Lecture at The King's School Canterbury

A very Happy Easter to you and a warm welcome to the first edition of the St Augustine’s College of Theology monthly newsletter.

As Lent comes to an end and we prepare to celebrate the season of rebirth that is Easter, it seemed like a fitting time to share our new monthly newsletter with you.

Here, you’ll find updates on some exciting events we have coming up. You can also catch up on what’s been happening on campus and beyond, and read a new case study story about one of our ordinands.

If you’ve subscribed to hear news and updates from the college, you may have already received these monthly tidings in your inbox. However, there are still some treats in store for you.

Read on to discover a brief write-up of this year’s Canterbury Residential Week and symposium, or learn more about our chaplain, Rev Harriet Johnson’s fascinating lecture on St Hadrian.

What events do we have coming up?

St Augustine’s Day

When: Friday 19th May 2023 (4:30pm – 9:30pm)

Where: St Augustine’s West Malling campus

For this year’s St Augustine’s Day celebrations, we’re inviting guests to join us at our West Malling campus for afternoon tea, a buffet reception, and an audience with a special guest.

This year, renowned theologian Professor David F. Ford OBE will be treating us to a lecture on the Gospel of John, drawing from his recently published commentary.

Principal of the college, Rev Dr Alan Gregory also promises that the event will involve “a rather absurd amount of cake”. What better way to celebrate St Augustine’s Day?

Lay Ministry Celebration Day

When: Saturday 13th May 2023 (10:30am – 4:30pm)

Where: St Augustine’s West Malling campus

Gather for a day of celebrating and reflecting upon Lay Ministry in the Church of England.

St Augustine’s will welcome a number of guest speakers, including keynote speaker Dr Jo Henderson-Merrygold (She/They), Head of Lay Ministries for the Church of England.

With a range of fantastic seminars on the topic of lay ministry, the event will no doubt be a spiritually enriching experience.

This event is suitable for anyone interested in or currently training for Lay Ministry; you do not need to be a current or former student of Lay Ministry to attend.

Finding St Eanswythe: The Life and afterlife of an Anglo-Saxon Saint

When: Friday 28th April 2023 (4:00pm – 5:30pm)

Where: Online (via Zoom) and in-person at St Augustine’s West Malling campus

In the summer of 1885, workmen decorating the chancel of St Mary and St Eanswythe church in Folkestone uncovered a hidden cavity.

Inside, half buried in the rubble, was a lead casket containing what looked like human bones. The history of this discovery and its meaning tell a story that throws light on the entire history of English Christianity.

Join us for a fascinating talk on Anglo-Saxon princess St Eanswythe – founder of one of the first Christian monastic communities for women in Britain – and explore why memory and history matter to our faith.

‘Easter People’ Audio Retreat

When: 4 weekly episodes (Sunday 16th April to Sunday 7th May)

Where: Online via the website and the college YouTube Channel

To celebrate and mark the Easter season, St Augustine’s is releasing a special four-part audio retreat on the figures of Easter.

“The imagined gifts of Easter – joy, peace and renewal of life – can feel distant from our own experience. Yet this was also so for those who met the risen Jesus: Mary, weeping in a garden; Simon Peter, unsuccessfully trying to go back to a former life; and the disciples gathered fearfully in a locked room. Joy, peace and renewal of life are real, yet not always experienced in the ways we imagine.”

Written and produced by Chris Chapman, Tutor in Christian Spirituality, this new audio retreat series will launch on Sunday 16th April. Look out for new episodes every Sunday!

What are we celebrating this month?

‘Feeling Our Way: Emotion, Science and Faith’ Symposium

A two-day event on the 1st and 2nd April to launch the college’s 2023 Residential Week

As part of our annual Residential Week, the College welcomed students and guests to a two-day symposium on ‘Feeling Our Way: Emotion, Science and Faith’.

St Augustine’s Research Fellow Buki Fatona, who attended and helped to host the symposium, reflected on the event:

“On the first day, which took place online, Dr Gena St David of the Seminary of the Southwest emphasised the importance of trust in learning. Prof Mark Wynn of the University of Oxford explored the epistemic role emotions have in religion; allowing us past the realm of rationality and language.

The second day took place at the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge. Guest speaker Dr Nathan Bossoh spoke on his personal journey as a Black British Christian, and how this informs his work as the London Science Museum’s first African Collections Research Curator.

‘This experience has necessarily meant confronting uncomfortable, and often neglected, topics,’ Dr Bossoh explained, ‘topics including slavery, racism, African erasure, and the colonisation and Westernisation of Science and Christianity.’

Finally, guest speaker Prof Thomas Dixon explored the history of emotions. Afterwards, he led participants through practical activities on identifying and understanding their own emotions.

The symposium’s focus on emotions and feelings allowed participants to explore the role they play in how we engage with science and religion – and how emotions shape and inform who we are as church leaders.”

After the symposium concluded, students and guests continued to gather for our annual Canterbury Residential Week. The College was particularly honoured to welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who spoke to attendants on Tuesday 4th April.

Hadrian; Man of Africa

For those who were lucky enough to attend, Chaplain Rev Harriet Johnson gave a wonderful lecture on the 7th century saint, Hadrian.

Beginning by specifying which Hadrian (or Adrian) she was referring to; Harriet went on to dive into his history according to multiple texts. From his beginnings in Libya, to his friendship with the Pope, to his journey to Anglo-Saxon England to become an Abbot of the Monastery of St Peter and Paul in Canterbury, there was plenty to talk about.

However, Harriet also examined Hadrian’s legacy today – or rather, how we perhaps fail to remember and rever him as much as he should be.

St Augustine’s Lentern audio retreat

Throughout the season of Lent, Chris Chapman and guests have shared five episodes of interactive audio retreats, mediating on the subject of Lent.

From reflecting on the experience of Jesus in the wilderness, to meditating what the Promised Land looks like for us in our day to day lives, there is something for everyone in this compelling five-part series.

Trainee Ordinand Nik Wright

Stories of St Augustine’s

Recently, we spoke to ordinand Nik Wright about his experience of being called to ministry, finding his people, and discovering new knowledge about himself.

“During my school days, I often had problems with learning and my teachers didn’t know how to help me. I still remember my careers master telling me that I would either be a career criminal or a dustman.

Because of that experience, there was a part of me that was concerned that the people at St Augustine’s college were going to judge me, or that I was going to fail.

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried about either eventuality!”