At Westcott House we have just finished our first term of the new training for ministry year. And what a fantastic first term it has proved! In late September, our returners warmly welcomed our new ordinands and exchange students from America and Australia into the Westcott family. The men and women who are training at Westcott this year are an inspiring cross-section of Christians whom God has called to Anglican public ministry and mission. Our crop of students range in age from early twenties through to people in their fifties. They have come from a wide range of social, occupational, and educational backgrounds: police officers, cabbies, parish assistants, diplomats, lawyers, executives and teachers. Together, we form a living representation of the Body of Christ. We live, eat, pray, learn, and serve together in the name of Christ in order to set all God’s people free for witness to God’s transformative power, as well as for the good of the world.
The induction to life in the House focused on how the time all students spend at Westcott revolves around developing what we called the ‘priestly imagination’. Different local clergy gave daily addresses to the students on aspects of the Ordinal in light of their own experiences of ministry and mission. Over the course of this past term, ordinands have embraced capturing this priestly imagination and their formation into Christ-like ministry and mission. The daily Westcott House rhythm of worship, study, and stimulating student placements in a variety of ministerial contexts frames how we live and work together to serve God’s work of the Kingdom. Through this lively rhythm, our students are enlivened by the Holy Spirit and are being equipped for the realities of ministry and mission, sensitive to context and a changing world. Such formation is of course busy, but a sense of joy, community and being conformed to the image of Christ permeates through our common life.
Two pieces of Scripture physically encapsulate our daily life and formation at Westcott over this past term, and always. The bell which calls us to prayer is inscribed with the words from 1 Thessalonians 5:24 – ‘The one who calls you is faithful’. The chapel icon of Christ includes our Lord’s words to his disciples in John 15:16 – ‘You did not choose me but I chose you’. These two texts remind us every day that we cannot bear the weight of our calling alone. Our certainty and confidence rather comes from the grace of God drawing us in the Spirit to conform with the image of Christ. So it is that we live, and move, and have our being in God in the shape of formation at Westcott House. After all, taking part in God’s mission is at the heart of our entire formative enterprise in the House.