Students, staff and supporters gathered on 12 September for the Wales Evangelical School of Theology’s dedication service to mark the beginning of the new academic year.
Principal Jonathan Stephen explained the values underlying the work of WEST and Union, in four themes. The first was ‘Delighting in God’: we desire to know, love and enjoy God, so glorifying him. The second, ‘Growing in Christ’: we long to be more fully alive in the truth, goodness and beauty of Jesus.
‘Serving the church’ came third: we are a ministry of the church, for the sake of the church, that she may be fit for Christ. Lastly, ‘Blessing the world’: we join God’s mission to fill the earth with the glory of Jesus, as we are led by the Spirit.
Iwan Rhys Jones, Hebrew and Old Testament lecturer, was given a special presentation for 25 years’ faithful service. Cor Bennema, who has just taken on the role of academic dean, interviewed five of the 30 new undergraduate students. Each one declared his commitment to prepare for ministry, whether in Wales, the rest of the UK, or as far afield as Thailand.
Three representatives of the International Foundation Course were also introduced, two from South Korea and one from France. Phil Hill, WEST’s pastoral and church theologian, was the preacher. He spoke from Colossians 1 about theological training, which today must be for cross-cultural ministry, even in our own society.
The apostle Paul here identifies a vision of servant leadership which harmonises service to Christ, the church and the gospel.
Mr Hill identified three imperatives for Christian workers. First, we must know our place in the world, as we are under the command of Jesus to preach the gospel. Second, we must know our place intheology:as servants, not masters, of the truth. Third: we must know our place in the church, called to be shepherds, not sheepdogs.