Greetings from the Principal
Greetings from the Principal
Patrick Mitchel By the end of October I will have been in post as Principal for three months. Of course I knew a lot about BBC before starting in August, but it is only from the ‘inside’ that you begin to appreciate all that goes on here. Let me share some initial impressions around three ‘C’s:
First CONTENT: At the ‘Beginning’ service at the start of the year, I talked about Acts 1:1 where Luke says “I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach”. What a great summary of the Gospel of Luke by its own author! And what a great summary of the call for every Christian – to be Jesus-focused; to know and tell the story of Jesus; to see how that story makes sense of the whole Bible (Luke 24:27); and therefore to be his disciples taking the good news out into the world. That’s a vision of theological education that excites me. One example of this is Noah, who grew up in France, and is here at College to be equipped to go back to France as a missionary where there is one evangelical church for every 33,000 people. These sorts of stories are why I feel it a privilege to take up the post of Principal.
Second CONTEXT. By this I mean how I’ve been struck by the focus on Christian community as the context in which students study and learn. Before the start of term, new and continuing students gathered in Castlewellan for a pre-term residential. Not only was it great fun, but it was deeply encouraging to hear some of the stories of what God has being doing in students’ lives and why they had come to BBC. One moment I really enjoyed was Tagle, a Cuban student, rejoicing in being able to fellowship with American students without being spied upon! – a reminder that the Church of Jesus Christ is a truly global place where boundaries are broken and reconciliation effected. Students and staff meet in weekly ‘Connect Groups’ for fellowship and prayer. There are also weekly ‘mission focus’ times in Chapel (which have so far included visits from the Leprosy Mission Nepal and WEC International). Every Tuesday has a teaching and worship service led by staff or guest speakers. There are student and staff prayer meetings several mornings a week.
Third CHALLENGES: I’ve also been struck by the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes in running a College the size of BBC – from all the teaching and administration, to running a residential campus, to meeting various onerous government regulations and so on. As a Christian College we receive no government funding and every year face a considerable challenge in fundraising. This year we have some significant extra costs for which we are thinking about some fundraising events. And on top of all the usual work, this year staff completely redeveloped our Cumbria undergrad degree adding in new strands of short study options and a new mission strand. Plans are afoot to develop new courses as we think and network as to how best we can ‘resource the Church for the mission of God through theological education’.
Do please join with us and pray for us in this strategic calling.