On Wednesday 23rd March we joined together at Westbury Baptist Church for our Community Day, and celebrated the book launch of “The Story of Bristol Baptist College”. It was fantastic to meet in person after being unable to meet for the past few years.

If you were unable to join us, you can catch up with the recording on YouTube. The order of service can be found below, although sadly we are not yet able to provide drinks through a screen so you will need to provide your own refreshments!

On the day, old friends became reacquainted and new Ministers-in-Training were welcomed into the community. We gave thanks for and remembered those of the community no longer with us. In particular we remembered former Principal John Morgan-Wynne, and Anthony Cross, who had been working with Ruth Gouldbourne on the release of the book on our college history. As joy and sorrow mingled, we were reminded of the importance of community.

Steve Finamore (College Principal) provided an update of news in the college and the community, including staffing changes. Peter Hatton stepped down from his role as Biblical Studies tutor, and Helen Paynter joined the college full-time as a tutor and to oversee Academic Studies; she also leads the Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence. As Helen stepped away from our community learning programme, the college recruited Lindsay Caplen to lead the course (EMD). Fran Brealey retired from her role as College Manager after 13 years (although remains with us for 1 day a week), and Sophie Atkinson was promoted from College Administrator to fill this role. Abi Reid joined the team to fill the gap of College Administrator. Lis Pearce stepped down as our chaplain, a position that was initially filled by Eleanor Moffat. Eleanor became the tutor for a new Ministerial Formation hub in Exeter so left the chaplaincy role, which was filled by Sam King, who we were delighted to welcome to the team. Michael Docker stepped down from chair of Council, and has served tremendously; the role has been filled by Ruth Bottoms. All in all, there has been a lot of change and we continue to keep our eyes looking forward to God’s vision for the college.

This was followed by the book launch, which felt bittersweet in many ways with the passing of Anthony. We all knew that it would have brought him great joy to see the finished book. Helen read some words from his wife Jackie for the occasion. Ruth took us through the process of compiling the book and we are very grateful.

The excellent David Bebbington presented his keynote address regarding the history of the Bristol Baptist College, in particular: “The Significance of Bristol Baptist College”.

It was then time for lunch; the weather was glorious and it was a great time to connect with past fellow students and colleagues.

Nigel Wright next shared his keynote address “Theology and ministerial formation in the Bristol Baptist traditions” for food for thought. You can read a transcript of his address, including references and bibliography, here.

A panel Q&A followed, featuring: Ruth Gouldbourne, David Bebbington, Nigel Wright, and Steve Finamore (chair). Questions presented were related to: shifting culture to value theological training; how to teach evangelical/biblical theology to congregations that are used to learning through soundbites; is it helpful to have to have an ‘academic’ qualification to measure theology or is this a hinderance?

After a final refreshments break, we entered a communion service, presided over by Chris Ellis via Zoom (unfortunately he was unable to join us in person). Brian Haymes preached, challenging and encouraging us to remember and reflect on the vows made in our lives. Ruth Bottoms led the prayers, bringing to mind those in conflict and those displaced, bringing them before God with the peace that Jesus taught. We took communion and joined together in worship with a song written by Chris Ellis, to the tune of ‘Ebenezer’. After one final worship song, Steve concluded the service with a prayer.

What a fantastic day together! If you missed it or want to re-live it you can find the recording on YouTube.

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, “The Story of Bristol Baptist College”, please email Abi Reid at reida@bristol-baptist.ac.uk and an invoice will be sent to you . The books are £15 each plus P+P (usually £18.35 total).

10.00               Welcome      Steve Finamore
                                                                and Worship led by Rob Howlett

10.20               College Community News          Steve Finamore

10.35               Book Launch           Steve Finamore & Ruth Gouldbourne

11.15               Tea/Coffee

11.45               Keynote address    David Bebbington

12.30               Lunch

1.30                    Keynote address    Nigel Wright

2.15                    Panel Q&A   Ruth Gouldbourne, David Bebbington, Nigel Wright and                                   Steve Finamore (Chair)

2.45                    Tea/Coffee                 

3.05                  Communion

Presiding: Chris Ellis
Preacher: Brian Haymes
Prayers: Ruth Bottoms
Music: Rob Howlett and band

1600                 Close