Rev Kirsty Borthwick was training for ordination in the Church of England when she studied for a Certificate in Advanced Studies in Ecumenical Studies at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey. Kirsty’s ecumenical experience happened before the Snelson Fund was set up. She was sponsored by the Ministry Division of the Church of England. Here are some reflections from her post-study report:
The thing I was most looking forward to at Bossey was living in an intentional, international and ecumenical community, and I was most hoping to make friends. Five months later, and I am sure I have made friends for life. Community life, as anywhere, had its delights and its challenges. And as well as learning from living alongside others, I was encouraged to stretch myself academically in the classroom and to take the risk of seeking deeper encounter with God and with my peers in our prayers together in chapel.
In terms of specific ongoing ecumenical commitment, as I turn my attention towards my Title Post, I’m keen to think about opportunities for ecumenical encounter locally, both within the parish and in the deanery. From what I understand, there is only a small amount happening ecumenically in the area where I’ll be ministering in the Diocese of St Albans, so I’d be interested in trying to develop that. More broadly within the UK, I have also joined Churches Together in Britain and Ireland’s Bossey Network and Society for Ecumenical Studies. I’m also part of a group working on an edited volume on social activism amongst young Christians which will be deliberately ecumenical in approach (I’m writing a chapter on feminism), to be published with SCM Press early next year.
Above all, in terms of my priestly vocation, Bossey has gifted me an increased awareness – learned by living with those from other traditions – of what it is to be Anglican, and within that (because I’ve realised all the more that they really are not to be just equated) a member of the Church of England.
I will certainly be recommending this placement to other ordinands. I have grown as a disciple in ways I could never have imagined, and am grateful for all I have experienced – the joys and the challenges.
The biggest gift at Bossey was the community, and particularly the friendships I have built with many of the other students, friendships I expect will continue for many decades to come.
I was already passionate about ecumenism before going to Bossey, but having added some in-depth learning to that passion, I’m now deeply committed to exploring how I can serve the ecumenical movement in my future ministry. I’ve noticed since returning, that in conversations with peers and in classes, I find special delight in moments of ecumenical awareness and deep frustration at comments that lack ecumenical thought. My horizons have certainly been broadened and I hope to be a faithful ambassador of that.
Rev Kirsty Borthwick is a Priest in the Church of England and currently serves as Assistant Curate at All Saints’, Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire. Alongside her ministerial training, Kirsty is in the final stages of completing a PhD on the Doctrine of Prayer through the University of Cambridge.