Ridley Chaplain the Revd Ian Adams looks back over a rich tapestry of events in our ordinands' spiritual formation programme over this past Michaelmas term.
Spiritual Formation in ordination training
We have enjoyed a rich and varied series of Spirituality Lectures, Bible Readings and Creative Theology Art Project events this term at Ridley Hall. Under C19 restrictions, our lectures and readings have been shared online, then followed up with a live conversation on Zoom – an innovation that has worked very well.
In our Spirituality Lectures we invite speakers to reflect with us on a stream of Christian spiritual practice in which they are grounded and knowledgeable, to encourage our ordinands and staff to deepen in prayer, and thus to reshape us for the Christ-following life.
Our first lecture this term The Spirituality of St George-in-the-East was given by Revd Richard Springer & Revd Alanna Harris, rector and curate (and former Ridley ordinand) at St George-in-the-East in Shadwell, East London. This was a compelling lecture, opening up a vision for local parish ministry rooted in discernment, prayer and action as a church community.
Our second Spirituality Lecture this term was given by Revd Canon Dr Andrew Goddard, who teaches Ethics at Ridley Hall. in his lecture Speaking (and Seeking) The Truth in Love – Pointers to a Spirituality for Theological Disagreement Andrew provided a series of imaginative principles for approaching and guiding others through areas of theological and ethical disagreement. Those principles will be a lasting gift to our ordinands.
In our Bible Readings we invite speakers take us deeply into a portion of scripture in which they are well-versed and which is inspiring them, and thus to encourage our own engagement with scripture, and receive and to share its gifts.
Our first Bible Reading this term was given by Dr Alison Gray, Tutor in Old Testament Language, Literature & Theology at Westminster College, Cambridge. Alison’s reading on Numbers 6:24-26 : The Priestly Blessing insightfully set that blessing in the wider context of the Old Testament, and encouraged us to receive and share God's blessing now. Alison memorably blessed us in closing with the Priestly Blessing, spoken over us in Hebrew.
Our second reading – on Isaiah 43:14-21 : What’s new? – was given by Revd Prof Jeremy Begbie, Professor in Theology at Duke Divinity School, North Carolina, and former tutor and Vice-Principal at Ridley. In his inspiring reading Jeremy encouraged us, with Isaiah, to see and participate in the new thing that God is doing in the midst of the old. ‘If you want to start something new in the midst of the old it will happen as we love each other more deeply and declare the praise of God unashamedly.'
Each term the chaplains facilitate a Creative Theology Art project, a series of opportunities for ordinands, partners and staff to work prayerfully and creatively with a theme from scripture. This term’s theme Face to Face drew on the story from Genesis 32 of Jacob wrestling with the divine being. It proved to be a rich theme, opening up experiences of struggle, blessing and the nature of God. This focus on prayerful engagement with art is vital for life and for mission, nurturing each participant, and contributing to the vision of the Church. Thus our aim is for every ordinand at Ridley Hall to have, through the project, a positive experience of engaging with the arts to take with them into future ministry.