It was held last Thursday. Gathered in the college were about 100 people, some of the Patrons (of which I am one, as Moderator of the General Assembly), representatives from the synods, from the Cambridge Theological Federation, fromWestminsterCollegeitself, possible future donors, past students and a host of others.
We began the evening in the chapel where we joined in a service of worship led by Rev Dr Susan Durber, the Principle. Susan told us how the appeal is now just short of £6 million and we heard her give thanks for the generosity of churches and synods, confess to feeling humbled by that generosity and acknowledge the responsibility this places on us all as we move forward with the plans for the college.
The service was followed by a reception and display in the library with an opportunity to chat to old friends and to meet new people, sharing experiences of the college from a variety of perspectives.
We were then ushered into the dining room where dinner was served. Remembering the founders of the college – the redoubtable Sisters of Sinai – the meal consisted of three courses with the menu reflecting their Scottish home background and their Middle Eastern travels. They, of course, looked down on the proceedings from their portraits, wearing their academic dress – testament to the bravery and forward thinking of these amazing women.
After dinner we had a brief speech from Dr John Sentamu – the Archbishop of York and also a Patron of the appeal.
The history of the college tells its own stories of vision and faith, the present tells of a place for study and deepening faith and the future is summed up in the final four lines from a hymn written for the college by Alan Gaunt:
As we journey on together,
let our faith and hope increase,
trusting love beyond all measure,
serving justice truth and peace.