WEST’s thanksgiving service, which marks the end of the school year, was held on Saturday 22 May, on a beautiful sunny day in the pleasant Bryntirion grounds.
The marquee (with all its sides turned up!) was full with 200 students, staff and supporters. WEST’s Chairman, Peter Milsom, led the service; David Ollerton, Director of Waleswide, preached; and Principal Jonathan Stephen reported on an eventful year and interviewed several leaving students.
Bernard Lewis, member of staff and pastor of Emmanuel Evangelical Church, Newport, read and prayed. The principal paid tribute to outgoing trustee Bill Capper, who had made an outstanding contribution to WEST, and honoured another, Professor Nick Fiddian, who had recently gone to be with the Lord. His wise counsel and godliness will be sorely missed.
The student body had been swelled by a record intake of undergraduates, but so far applications for future courses were short of that bumper crop. Finances were looking healthier but, in these recessionary times, churches are cutting back and WEST had been forced to make savings.
A new partnership with SaRang Community Church, Seoul, was imminent and they have made a generous donation to the school. Structural changes in higher education in UK had meant degree validation would in future be with the University of Chester (undergraduates) and University of Wales (UW), Trinity St David (postgraduates) – formerly UW Lampeter.
Paula Harris would be working part time for St Mellon’s Baptist Church for a year, while undertaking deputation work and fund-raising to serve with UFM Worldwide in Brazil. Jim Day had been appointed pastor of Ingleton Baptist Church in North Yorkshire. He is marrying Louise-Joy Souillot, WEST’s academic registrar (undergraduates) in the autumn. Tibbie Kendall (John’s wife) will be her replacement.
Paul Donovan spoke warmly of the missions training he had received. For two years he is to work as assistant pastor at Hurstpierpoint Evangelical Church, with a longer-term view to serve in Papua New Guinea with UFM.
Eduardo Zarate Caceres from Peru is one of several students whose wives have given birth in recent months. He, Esme and their little son plan to go to Peru in 2011, again with UFM. Chris Parry has recently been appointed assistant pastor at Baglan Community Church, Port Talbot.
Simon Patterson (plus Kirsty and their newborn baby) would be church planting in Ogmore Vale. Andy McKenna had been appointed assistant pastor at Minster Church Centre, Cardiff. Paul Daniel would be working for a year as evangelist at Bethel Evangelical Church, Clydach. Richard Penn and Kofi Boafa were still seeking the Lord about the next move.
David Ollerton preached on ‘my gospel’ in Romans 16:25 (and 2 Timothy 2:8). He asked why the gospel of God was referred to in such a surprising way. He said it was because – ‘by this gospel I was saved; it strengthens me; and it is my responsibility to share it’. He finished by exhorting us to revel in the gospel.