With thanks for article contributions from Wesley House, Cambridge; Rev. Dr. Amos Nascimento, WMC Education Committee Chair; and The World Methodist Council staff
Following a two year building project, Wesley House, Cambridge, has re-opened its doors to students and scholars from all over the world. The re-dedication took place on the 27 April with HRH the Earl of Wessex and the Presidents of the British Methodist Conference and World Methodist Council; Dame Mary Tanner, Chair of the Governing Council of the Cambridge Theological Federation; key donors including members of the Stanfield Family, one of whom is the oldest living alumnus of the college; and the great-grandson of the original founder, Michael Gutteridge among the guests. The celebration featured a visit from the Earl of Wessex, tours of the site, a re-dedication ceremony, Service of Thanksgiving, and a celebration dinner. The Re-dedication day was the culmination of a week-long celebration of “rebirth” for Wesley House, Cambridge, follow extensive renovations. Each day began with a moment of prayer in the Wesley House Chapel, followed by an academic event reflecting on Wesley and the people called Methodists.
The story so far
Established in 1921, Wesley House, Cambridge, is a community of Methodist and other Wesleyan scholars and students at the heart of the university city, and of the ecumenical Cambridge Theological Federation. Catering to about 50 resident and non-resident students each year, it is an international community of learning, prayer and common life, seeking to wrestle faithfully with the problems facing our world while resourced by the best Cambridge scholarship.
After the college was threatened with closure following a reorganisation of Methodist colleges in 2014, the trustees decided to extend the college’s remit to include lay people and the world church. To accommodate this new direction, the trustees undertook a complete renovation of the existing buildings along with the construction of new accommodation and academic buildings.
The vision for Wesley House, Cambridge is for a Methodist presence in Cambridge for the British and global Methodist church: a community of scholarship and prayer for visiting scholars, associate faculty and registered students for a thoughtful and transformative influence in the churches and cultures from which they come, whether as theological educators or as visionary church leaders or by collaboratively developing theological responses to the problems facing our world.
This is a continuation of the community’s founder, Michael Gutteridge’s original vision who believed that the Wesleyan Church needed:
- an educated ministry to match standards of education in general and so be effective in apologetics and mission;
- a ministry engaged with the big scientific, social and ethical questions of the day that can make a contribution to the shaping of society;
- a leadership formed where other Christian leaders are in also formation and where they might become colleagues and friends; and
- a leadership formed in Christian community with the love of God and of neighbour at its heart.
The college now offers en suite accommodation in the Greenhalgh Building, with 21st century fittings, wheelchair access and internet connectivity throughout. The new Gutteridge Building that fronts onto Jesus Lane houses the new library, archive, dining room and teaching rooms replacing the 1920s facilities sold to Jesus College.
The 1930 Lamplough Chapel remains at the heart of the college, supporting the daily life of prayer for the residential community and inspiring the work of the college in its distance, local and dispersed modes.
Presence of The World Methodist Council
The World Methodist Council had a sizable presence at the Wesley House Cambridge Re-Dedication event. General Secretary Ivan Abrahams, Mr. Kirby Hickey (Treasurer/CFO), Dr. Amos Nascimento (Chair, Education Committee), Dr. Tim Macquiban (Chair, Ecumenical Relationships Committee), and Dr. John Barrett (former Chairman), were among those attending, and Abrahams preached at the Service of Thanksgiving.
Dr. Amos Nascimento said, “This event was very significant not only for the local community in Cambridge, UK, but also for the British Methodist Church and, beyond that, the global community related to the World Methodist Council.” he went on to share that:
The re-dedication of Wesley House was an opportunity to see the historical importance of this institution, its vitality, and future prospects. Wesley House has become a global reference and is reopening its doors to serve the worldwide Church, offering opportunities for studies, sabbaticals, events, training sessions, spiritual formation, life in community, and many other experiences to Christians of various ages whether clergy or laity. Wesley House already has partnerships with Candler School of Theology in the United States, the Manchester Research Center in England, Kenya Methodist University in Kenya, Chung Chi College in Hong Kong, Africa University in Zimbabwe, Seth Mokitimi Theological Seminary in South Africa, and many other institutions around the world. As a reflective, cross-cultural community of prayer and study, Wesley House will certainly be an important asset to the World Methodist Council. Its doors are open to the entire community of people, churches, and institutions related to the WMC!
Bishop Joseph Ntombura, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church in Kenya, made a speech describing how his time at Wesley House had helped equip him for senior church leadership, and for wrestling with very complex contemporary issues in both church and world.
Preaching at the re-dedication service in the Chapel at Wesley House, Bishop Ivan Abrahams reminded the congregation that in dedicating the buildings, the college was handing them – together with all the labour which had built them – over to God.
In his speech at the re-dedication the President of the British Methodist Conference, The Revd Dr Roger Walton, characterised the college’s global vision, and international community of scholarship and prayer being built at Wesley House, as an example of ‘international Connexionalism’. He commended ‘international Connexionalism’ for its potential to enrich what Methodists mean when we talk about ‘Connexion’. The President spoke of the ‘generosity and patience’ needed for the continuing task of realising this global vision
(photos courtesy Wesley House, Cambridge)
For more information about Wesley House, Cambridge, go to http://www.wesley.cam.ac.uk.
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