An open forum discussion for students on a specific issue from a faith perspective
Our Forum on Wednesday evenings this term is called Christian Approaches. There is not just one way of being a Christian, but many ways. We approach our faith and the world in general from different directions, and at the same time we have some things in common and other things we can learn from each other’s approaches.
The first session, on October 10th, is called Christian Approaches to Belief. Two of the Chaplaincy team, Fr Gareth Leyshon and the Rev Ray Vincent, are planning to start it off by talking about their own, quite different, approaches.
“I’m not from a Catholic family. My parents didn’t hold any strong beliefs, but at my grandfather’s insistence, they sent me to a Christian Sunday School. So I learned about God from a young age. But God only became real to me when I was 11 years old. My grandmother died, and that drove me to pray in a way I’d never prayed before. For the first time in my life I sensed that there was Someone who was real and who was there for me when I prayed.”
“Having connected with this Someone, I started reading the Christian Bible more seriously. What I read made a lot of sense, and the Jesus of the Bible seemed to match the Someone who was there when I prayed. And in the Bible, Jesus invited people to celebrate His Last Supper in communion with His body and blood. That suggested that I should be in a church which put the Eucharistic Communion service at the heart of worship, a centrality I found most clearly in the Catholic Church. As I read more about Catholicism, the more it made sense as a web of beliefs coherent with each other and with what Jesus taught on the pages of the New Testament. So in 1990 I became a Catholic, in 1999 I entered a seminary, and this year I was ordained as a Catholic Priest.”
Labels are very difficult. I think I am ‘Evangelical’ in the sense that I believe Christianity is good news and worth sharing, but not in the sense of believing every word of the Bible and having a particular type of ‘born again’ experience. I am ‘liberal’ in the sense that I believe in freedom, respecting other people’s beliefs, and being open to different ideas. But I don’t like the idea that it doesn’t matter what you believe. I’m quite passionate about what I believe. I like to think I am a ‘radical’, going back to the roots – but this word seems to have changed its meaning recently, and makes people think of militants and fanatics.
Am I just a follower of Jesus? Just?! what a claim to make! If I do follow Jesus, it is at a great distance. I like best of all to think of myself as ‘a Jesus fan’. I think he’s great, and I try to be like him, and I think the one sure way of knowing God and learning the meaning of everything is through him – not just his teaching, but his character and his whole story.
This series of open forum discussions are suitable for those who are unsure of their belief and are curious about what others believe. Also for those who are committed to other faiths but who have an interest in understanding what Christians believe and want to contribute their point of view, and for Christians who wish to explore their faith further.
A buffet tea will be served each week. Please contact the chaplaincy by email or phone if you would like to come along, we need to book people in for catering purposes.