Saturday 17 May was a beautifully sunny day and the SaRang Thomas Centre was nearly full for the Wales Evangelical School of Theology (WEST) thanksgiving service. This was led by the principal, Jonathan Stephen. Pastoral and church theologian, Phil Hill, read Acts 20:13-38 and led in prayer.
WEST now owns the freehold of the Bryntirion campus (the Evangelical Movement of Wales is in excellent facilities elsewhere in Bridgend).
A major new initiative has been the development of ‘learning communities’ which bridge between the academy and the local church. The first is with the North-West Gospel Partnership, through former student, Andrew Evans, of Christ Church, Liverpool.
From September 2014 ministerial trainees there will be able to do the WEST Graduate Diploma by distance learning, studying part-time locally together over two years with accredited mentors.
They will have the option of progressing to a master’s degree. Agricola College, Finland, will be involved in something similar. PhD student, Sean Rossi, who leads the OM (Europe) team is the coordinator of this initiative.
On 22 June, a special missional academy called Union is due to be launched at All Souls, Langham Place, with the programme due to start in September 2015. A short video gave an insight into this ‘academy into missional church’ venture.
A number of leaving students were interviewed, all of whom were enthusiastic about their WEST experience. Doug Clark is waiting on a church members’ meeting to see whether he would be appointed assistant pastor at Worthing Tabernacle.
Paul Crolla is being considered for a church post in a deprived area of Wales. Gwydion Emlyn is looking forward to marriage in August and the prospect of being assistant pastor at St Mellons Baptist Church (dependent on a church vote in July). Gethin Jones asked for prayer regarding his future ministry. Lloyd Pritchard is being actively considered by a South Wales city church.
Raj Sangha is seeking ordination in the Anglican Church. Andy Taylor is waiting for a Magdalen Road Baptist Church, Oxford, vote on whether he takes up the post of assistant pastor from September, while Mike Viccary is completing his binary course studies and being considered by a church in Guernsey as their pastor.
Jonathan Thomas of Ammanford Evangelical Church preached most helpfully from Acts 20 on Paul’s farewell speech. He challenged the students as to whether they would be able to say something similar when their ministry ends. Paul’s ministry was passionate, full of preaching, protective and pastoral, and the key to this was prayer.