I am blessed by every single person in this picture – the 2019 MCYM undergraduates, some newbies, some back for their second or third year. We have just had our community week, named that for a reason. It is easier to learn together and we learn so much feom one another. I am full of admiration for our students and the stories behind this picture. God has blessed us with a passsionate, diverse and wonderful group of people.
At MCYM we started a new academic year on Monday, each one starts with a community week. Today we finish with Communion. At that service we like to present achievement awards to two of our graduating student and we value the two different awards equally. Choosing one is easy – it is the person with the highest average grade. Choosing the other one is much tougher, it is for personal achievement and that can mean all different sorts of things. That it is tough to decide reflects the challenges many of our students go through to get to graduation. We have a very diverse group of students from 18-50 something, some career changers, others who have felt they have always failed in education and some who choose to do a second undergraduate degree because they appreciate the course structures and learning styles. On the first day we have a session on ethos where we talk about our seven strands and they are all important: community, ministerial, spiritual, academic, personal, theological, professional. It reminds me of Paul’s analogy of the body of Christ and his discussion of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13. We are a community of learners, staff included and we bring different gifts but together we are stronger. As one graduating student emailed me, I didn’t do this on my own!
Yesterday we said goodbye to our third year Midlands Institute for Children Youth and Mission students. I am always proud of each group that leave, the journeys of growth and development they have been on but this group have overcome more adversity than most. Some from way before they ever started on the course, others from things that happened while they were on the course and some in between those things! It is the personal achievements I am proud of, there is some amazing academic work accomplished (which is not all about grades) but there are many lives changed because of the work these students have done.
I am so grateful to God for allowing me to be a little part of their journey and for the wonderful staff team I work with who offer so much support and encouragement to enable students to fulfil their potential.
Love the picture with the empty front row – some things never change!
Yesterday in our morning worship session Nigel Roberts helped us to reflect on covenant. The picture shows us taking off our shoes and placing them around the cross to signify our commitment to God talking about the verse how lovely are the feet of him who brings good news and how in the story of the prodigal gave his returning son sandals, he was no longer a servant. We recited the Methodist covenant prayer before we took bread always an immensely challenging and powerful prayer which can be quite difficult to say fully:
I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you or laid aside for you
or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty;
let me have all things, let me have nothing;
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it
And the covenant now made on earth may it be ratified in heaven.
A lovely friend has edited a book on teaching – one I read with eager anticipation, this is one of the passages that stood out for me and I think resonated because this is what we try to do at MCYM:
If’ we as Christian leaders do not allow for space to be made for new voices and new ways of thinking and believing, then education can become merely the transfer of raw data, or, even worse the silencing of new insights from the students by which the teacher and other students can grow p16.
Yesterday I was able to sit in on part of one of our professional and ministerial development days. Len Kageler from Nyack College did two sessions, one on mistakes youth workers make and the other on soul care. He was really clear that while he hoped we would learn from his input it was equally important that we learn from one another. I heard new voices and new insights today and have come away with much to think about. One of the greatest privileges in my job is to be part of a community of practice and to learn from others with fresh perspectives and other experiences.
From Jeff Keuss Developing a Theology of Education in Terry Linhart ed Teaching the Next Generations Grand Rapids Baker Academic 2016 14-21
As Sally wrote on Wednesday, our year three MCYM students spent a day last week drawing together the key values, principles, practices for their leadership and ministerial formation. They produced some inspiring ideas and commitments. I have chosen this picture as it reminds me of much of what I do at the hospital which is making connections to things that are important to those I am working with – theologically reflecting on the everyday.
This was a prayer in my daily notes last week that drew together much of what we sought to express:
Prayer of Claude de la Colombiere SJ
Jesus grant that I may die pursuing you, that I may die loving you, that I may die for the love of you.
A prayer for those of us who pursue an honest and aspirational Christianity.
I am always blessed and inspired by the final day of the MCYM Year 3 Leadership and Ministry Module. Our students get to present their vision and foundations for ministry and all of us get to engage with what others have created. There were so many profound insights, creative connections, and so much of who the students were in what they did. We were later encouraged to summarize our vision in a sentence – they did this too. I came away with a great sense of hope and pride in those God is calling into work with children and young people and am so privileged that my calling is to support them in exploring theirs.