"This was the place where I felt, Yes, my calling is affirmed"
Gavin Peacock returns to his ministry training college Ridley Hall
In the latest episode of the BBC's 'My Faith and Me' series, former professional footballer and Match of the Day pundit Gavin Peacock discusses faith and football with Ridley Principal Michael Volland.
"This was the place where I felt, Yes, my calling is affirmed" Gavin Peacock, speaking of Ridley Hall
In the hour-long programme, which is available on iPlayer until January 13th, Gavin Peacock retraces his steps from his first goal at his primary school (off the knee from half a yard) through his 18-year career in the sport, into the media as a pundit working alongside the likes of "Motty" (the commentator John Motson, who also features in the documentary) and on to Ridley Hall to pursue his new calling to ministry in the Church.
Sitting in the office of the current Principal of Ridley Hall, Michael Volland, the former Newcastle United and Chelsea player draws Michael on questions of faith and football, and the role of a college like Ridley.
"When you go into a Premiership match" says Michael, "you go into a big stadium... and the atmosphere is electric, and that blows people away, and I think that's what becomes addictive.... It's amazing to be part of something bigger than yourself."
"Everyone, whether they acknowledge it or not, is seeking after something to put in the centre, aren't they? And it's what you put in the centre that ultimately is the question."
"We're worshipping beings, right?" replies the former Premier league footballer.
"Yes, so as a Christian, as Christians, you and I would say, actually, we’re made by God to worship God, and until you come to that point of knowing God and worshipping God, you’ll always have a sense that there’s something missing.... In the end it’s God that people are looking for. And the love that God offers – the unconditional love that God offers to us – once you’ve encountered that, you find that you’re at home."
Being relevant in the world of today
Just as in football, the position of faith in wider society is changing. So Gavin is interested to find out how the teachings at Ridley Hall keep pace.
"We need to be relevant for now" continued Michael Volland, "and in order to be faithful, you’ve got to meet people where they’re at."
"So you’ve got to be aware of how culture is, how society is, today. And our students obviously arrive from that society. They come here from being police officers or accountants or carpenters."
"But our hope is that it trains them to be able to share the love of God relevantly, in a way that people can engage with and understand in the world of today in order to make a difference."
Called from pitch to pulpit
After his discussion with the Principal, Gavin Peacock is filmed outside in the college courtyard, reminiscing on his time here.
"It was at this time that I knew I was going to give up the media and go into full-time study for a while in preparation for ministry."
"So, if you like, this was the place where I felt, ‘Yes, my calling is affirmed’ ...and I made the decision during this time to actually leave the BBC."
The third episode of Series 1 of "My Faith and Me", with Gavin Peacock, was aired on Sunday 16th December 2018 and has been made available on BBC iPlayer to watch or download for 28 days.