Evangelism and Students Meeting Point
The CTE General Secretary, Rev Bill Snelson, welcomed the 24 guests to the office of Churches Together in England, saying that this was a very important and timely gathering. The Government hope that 50% of young adults will be in some form of further or higher education, and for CTE it was a 'privilage to have you here' as representatives from nearly all the major Christian groups were together to network and consider the common concerns.
After prayer and an Introduction to the days theme by the GfE moderator, Rev Dr David Spriggs, Rich Wilson of Fusion spoke to a paper called 'Students, Churches and Chaplaincies' and Agencies'. Hugh Shilson Thomas, speaking for the Chaplains from his position at the Church of England, agreed with the main points made and further described the chaplains role in a College Institution. As 'faith is on the agenda', and 'religion is often in the news' in the current climate he sees the main issue being the tension between equality and diversity.
Will van der Hart from St Mary's Bryanston Sq in London described his work with a student congregation of 2000 and challenged the wider church to invest in student ministry, while Caroline Fielder from the China Desk of CTBI spoke of the number of Chinese students in the UK, often here because they could not get a place in China, with particular pastoral needs which cannot be met in an English context.
Bryan Knell of Global Connections continued the theme of people travelling to study and learn, adding the value of short term exchanges, while Emily Mingay of the Salvation Army spoke of the new initiative of the Army called 'AloveUK'.
Peter May of UCCF brought the group up to date with the issues facing Christian Unions under the heading 'Freedom of Speech' and the legal advice it is seeking in various places at present. Liam Purcel of SCM added insights about student work on and off campus before all the other guests added their contributions in discussion groups and plenary sessions.
Some of the people present had not met before and everyone agreed it had been a worthwhile gathering in;
getting to know one another
exploring some of the issues
considering how to build on each other's work for the common good.
It was particularly timely to meet as the long planned day happened to fall on the day the Government issues Colleges with guidelines about religious fundamentalists and the threat of terrorists being recruited on campus.
Some discussion took place about follow up how local church leaders can have material which might help;
their own young people going to college
the local congregation be aware of the ministry possibilities with students
build appropriate links with local collegs and agencies which might be able to further 'share the good news of Jesus Christ together'.
This website will keep you up to date if any resources for the local church are produced, but in the mean time do visit the websites of the dfferent agencies who were represented on the day, some of which are linked in the text above.