Articles in the 'University' category

Stories From Our Community: Autumn Term 2016 (Part One)

To kickstart our new series, we’re looking at projects and events from link churches, which have been working this past term on projects to involve students, congregation members, and people from the local community to live out faith in concrete ways.

St Columba’s by the Castle: An Inclusive Ceilidh

St Columba’s by the Castle (Scottish Episcopal) is an SCM link church in the heart of Edinburgh, located near the university and part of a local ecumenical partnership with Augustine United Church (URC) and Greyfriars Kirk (Church of Scotland).

On 2 December, St Columba's by the Castle, Edinburgh held a ceilidh for St Andrewstide. What made it different was that residents from the local homeless hostel were invited. Over the years, the church has been supportive of the hostel, giving presents at Christmas and Easter, but this was the first time that members of the church and members of the hostel had met together. We shared food, music and dancing. It wasn't 'us' helping 'them' but all of us meeting as equals, and seeing each other as individuals, with names and stories, rather than as labels.

Hopefully we were all enriched a little by it - as well as having a great evening.  (Members of the local SCM group were also invited but weren't able to make it). This very much fits into our vision for 2017, when we are going to be welcoming Syrian refugees for a ceilidh around Burns Night, hosting a Night Shelter in the church hall for the first time in February, and opening up our church and our garden as quiet places for people at the heart of our busy city.

Revd David Paton-Williams

St Luke's, Southsea: Love Our Neighbour

St Luke's Southsea is an Anglican church in the heart of the diocese of Portsmouth - it has a heart for the local community and a vision of doing something radically different.

We are not a large congregation but we are definitely committed to engaging with our community with whatever resource we have, even as it shifts around us. As a brand new block of student accommodation has opened literally across the road, it’s hard to ignore the fact that students are now squarely our nearest neighbours! All 1100 of them.

So what could we do to “love our neighbour”? In an area where the have/have not divide is painfully obvious, how could we sow seeds of peace and build bridges in a diverse community?

A good place to start is a warm welcome, so…in the autumn term we opened up our car park on moving in Saturday, and with help from the CU and students from other churches, offered a moving-in service to help carry up boxes, as well as a refreshment table to recover from the whole process! The following day we held a massive BBQ and invited the community and the students to hang out together in the sunshine and enjoy a free burger (or two!). It was a wonderful start to the year, and we look forward to more opportunities to welcome and connect with students in Portsmouth.

St George and Our Lady Queen of Peace, Worcester: Youth Outreach & Alpha Ministry

St George and Our Lady Queen of Peace are part of the Catholic churches team in Worcester, which together with St Joseph Warndon, represent three parishes that serve the city.

It has been an exciting first semester for the CathSoc Plus group in Worcester. University students and young adults from the area have been participating in Alpha, using the new Alpha Film Series, which has been excellent. We have set up CathSoc Mums and Dads, a fantastic group of parishioners from our Catholic Worcester parishes who have cooked some fantastic meals for our hungry group.

The Alpha series has provoked some great conversation and thought about faith and life. We are looking forward to picking it up again after the Christmas break. Part of the group have been working with other parishioners in looking to establish a parish based youth ministry. We have already celebrated a Youth Mass, done some evangelisation work with a project called NightFever, and are getting ready for another Youth Mass for the Epiphany. In 2017, we are hoping to step up a gear, love Jesus more and be his missionary disciples in Worcester.

Fr Michael Glover

All Hallows Church, Leeds: The Syrian Kitchen

All Hallows Church is an inclusive Christian community in inner-city Leeds, exploring the meaning of faith in the 21st Century. The church seeks to respond to the challenge of loving God and demonstrating that love to all people.

All Hallows runs a Real Junk Food Cafe, which creates meals and community out of intercepted 'waste' food. In the last few months, the church has started including in this a weekly 'Syrian Kitchen' – every Thursday some refugee friends spend the day with us, cooking delicious Middle Eastern goodies and sharing Syrian life/culture with others in the kitchen and cafe.

The idea behind the ‘Real Junk Food Project’ is that people pay what they can, or help to cover costs by volunteering. The project has been up and running at All Hallows for the past two years, with the Syrian Kitchen recently established in partnership with a local mosque. The initiative gives opportunities for refugees to feel part of the community, contributing their skills and building cohesion. “The project has attracted a good (and growing) number of Christian and non-Christian local students, through both volunteering and sharing meals,” says Revd Heston Groenewald, the vicar at All Hallows.

Next term (Spring 2017), the church will be hosting a winter night shelter for destitute asylum seekers, which huge numbers of students are already signing up for.

Revd Heston Groenewald

Tags: Link ChurchStudent MinistryDeepening FaithChristianityUniversityChurches

Church Leaders Fear Negative Impact of University on Students’ Faith, New Report Finds

There is a significant lack of support for young Christians going to university, with some church leaders holding mixed views about the impact of university on a person’s faith, according to a new study published by SCM. The full report of the findings, which can be viewed here, was written by researchers from the St Mary’s Centre, a Christian research institute working in the fields of religion and education.

The survey of 118 respondents, from churches of varying sizes and denominations, revealed that many church leaders hold a negative perception of the university experience when it comes to faith. Only 17 percent of respondents felt that it was likely that people leaving their congregation to go to university would find another Christian community. 29 percent of church leaders said they thought the move to university resulted in a negative impact on people’s faith, with 52 percent saying the impact was mixed.

For people who have moved to a different city, their engagement with the Christian faith has dwindled, according to some. “They have become distracted and their faith has taken a back seat or even has been lost,” said one respondent. “Many who did not move away have continued to attend our church, but those who have moved away have found it hard to engage at another church,” said another respondent.

“This survey highlights the need for a more joined-up approach linking youth work with higher education work,” said Hilary Topp, SCM’s National Coordinator. “With such a negative perception of how university can impact a person’s faith, churches need more innovative and diverse ways to connect their young people with vibrant and active faith communities.”

Support for young Christians to continue engaging with faith at university is lacking. 45 percent of respondents said an online platform where students could find another local church or Christian community would be the most helpful tool to prepare young adults for faith at university. However, only 4 percent said in reality they directed people to an online listing (or something similar). Only 2 percent of churches said they would give young people in their congregation going to university a resource of any kind, despite 28 percent saying a ‘going to university’ style guide from a Christian perspective would be the most helpful way to prepare them for university. 22 percent of churches said they did ‘nothing’ for people in their congregation leaving for university.

Other key findings included:

  • For churches where there were no higher education students involved in their services, 23 percent said this was because the church was too far from campus. 16 percent said it was because there weren’t many other students or people of a similar age also attending. 45 percent said they did not know why they had no contact with Higher Education students.
  • A lack of capacity within churches is not met through university chaplaincies, who have their own priorities and time pressures and are not always able to engage with local churches. Only 15 percent of respondents said they would refer people going to university to the chaplain.
  • Only 4 percent of respondents from university-based churches (churches that have at least one campus within 5 miles of the church) said they were happy with their current student outreach work. The majority (85 percent) said they would like to involve more students and improve their ministry to them, but for various reasons (lack of personnel to focus on the work, perceived lack of interest in their church etc), feel they are unable to focus resources and attention on this.

According to one church leader, student ministry is strengthened when the focus of work is on bridging the gap from school to university. “The stronger the youth work at the home church, the more likely [students] are to at least try to find a base in university. It is good if home youth leaders can keep in touch,” said the respondent.

The impact of having someone working specifically with students within a church context has been significant, increasing the participation of young people, strengthening their ties to home churches, and enabling them to grow in faith: “They have felt more confident in their faith and Christian life whilst away at university. They’ve also found it easier to maintain links with their home church,” said one respondent. “[Having someone working with students] has enabled students to get to know others; it has helped to explain and deepen their faith; it has provided someone to turn to in moments of confusion or crisis,” said another respondent.

In response to declining student church attendances and a lack of support for student outreach, SCM launched the SCM Connect platform in June 2016. “We hope that this survey and the SCM Connect directory can be a starting point for further investigation into why churches might view university as a place where faith diminishes, rather than flourishes, for some young people. Supporting and resourcing this area of work is crucial if we are to help more students deepen their faith during the formative years of university,” added Hilary Topp.


The full report and analysis of the survey, written by researchers from the St Mary's Centre, can be viewed here. The St Mary’s Centre is a Christian research institute working in the fields of religion and education. For more information, visit www.st-marys-centre.org.uk.

Tags: ChurchesDeepening FaithUniversity

Freshers' Week 2016 - News and Events from SCM Groups Across Britain (Part Two)

Part two of our round-up of what's happening at SCM groups across Britain during Freshers' Week 2016. Whether you're coming to university for the first time, or looking to support groups and student leaders in prayer this year, have a look at what's going on as we welcome hundreds of new students.

Progressive Christians Essex

Simone Ramacci, Progressive Christians President

This year Essex Freshers’ Fair will be Saturday 8 October, and as usual we’ll be there with a stall. There are a few things to look out for when you come chat with us…

Be sure to get your hands on our handouts! We’ll have a selection of SCM resources as well as flyers for some of our partner churches.

Every term we pick a favourite charity, so be on the look out for any cake or candy you can get in exchange for a donation to whichever amazing charity our friends and members will have chosen!

Don’t be shy! You’ll find friendly, helpful people at the stall. We’ll be happy to help you learn all about the society, as well as guide you in choosing an ethical bank to bank with (if you don’t have one already), tell you about all the great volunteering opportunities on and off campus, and all the churches and places to check out in town!

Finally be an early bird when buying your society membership! If enough people join by the end of the week, we’ll draw a lucky winner for a copy of the book we’ll be using in our meetings: The Jesus Driven Life.

SCM Sheffield

Marie Lunt, St Mark’s church, Sheffield

Welcome to SCM Sheffield! Look out for us during freshers’ week, commencing 19th September 2016 at Sheffield uni. Here’s what we’ve got lined up:

Weds 21 September (morning) – meet us outside St Marks, Broomfield road, as you walk to uni. Come say hello, grab some free food, and see what we are about! We will have some resources to help with your transition to university, and you can chat to some current students to get advice over a bacon sandwich!

Weds 21 September (19.30) – an ‘Alternative Freshers’ event. Meet us at the church for a relaxed evening of pizza making, films and games, plus a chance to meet current students and ask any questions you may have.

Sunday 25 September – At St Mark’s church we will be hosting a lunch after the 10am service (at 12 if you don’t fancy/are too tired to attend the service). Come along to see what St Mark’s and our SCM student group has planned for the rest of the year!

Wednesday 28 September (19:30) – a second ‘Alternative Freshers’ event! Come along again for a relaxed evening of board games and food, learning more about SCM Sheffield and how you can get involved!

Exeter MethAng

Ryan Turner, Exeter MethAng President

The University of Exeter Freshers’ Week 2016 is from 12-18 September, and the Methodist and Anglican Society (known as MethAng) will be holding events on most days. Here are the events we are running:

Monday 12 September, 7.30pm (upstairs in the Old Library) – Board games night

Wednesday 14 September, 5pm at the Mary Harris Chapel – Evensong service followed by dinner at the pub

Thursday 15 September, 2pm on the grass outside Queen’s Building (upstairs in the Old Library if raining) – Picnic lunch

Sunday 18 September, 10.30am walking bus from the bottom of Forum Hill – Holy Communion at St Luke’s Chapel

Also don’t forget to find our table at the Freshers’ Fair in the Great Hall, all day on Saturday 17 September, where we will have some homemade cakes on offer! All our events will be posted on our Facebook group (facebook.com/groups/methang) and on the Exeter Students Guild website. We’re looking forward to meeting lots of new people!

Birmingham AngSoc

Rachael Banes, Birmingham AngSoc Publicity Officer

Birmingham AngSoc is an inclusive Christian Society, representing the Church of England on at the University of Birmingham. We will have a stall during the Freshers' Week on 23 of September, watch out for us wearing blue and yellow shirts with our logo! On 22 September we will be holding a Taizé service (followed by Tea and Cake!) in St. Francis Hall (Behind the Guild, O2 on campus map). And on Thursday 28 September we are hosting a Games night in St. Francis Hall again. We will also be continuing with our usual services during Freshers' Week, including midweek communion on Thursday at 1.15pm. Our Freshers Sunday Communion is at 6.30pm in St. Francis Hall on 25 of September, followed by a quiz.


This is part two of our freshers' 2016 round-up. Read part one - with news and events from Birmingham, Durham, Glasgow and Leeds - here.

Tags: FreshersUniversityChurches

Freshers' Week 2016 - News and Events from SCM Groups Across Britain (Part One)

Freshers' week 2016 is almost upon us and SCM groups across Britain are preparing to give a huge welcome to hundreds of new students. Here's our first round-up of what's happening, what to look out for, and how you can keep our groups and student leaders in prayer at the start of the new academic year.

SCM Glasgow

Debbie White, SCM Glasgow Co-Leader

Freshers’ Week for us is 12-18 September, and we've got a full week of activities planned in Glasgow, with something on every day, including a Monday meditation followed by lunch and fellowship, an Open House event at Wellington Church, a welcome service and introduction to SCM, a discussion evening on the theme of inclusive communities, a movie night, a pizza night and a church search!

We'll also have a presence at the Freshers’ Fair at both Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities (where we'll be promoting the Scotland Gathering as well as our programme of events for the year!) It's going to be a really busy week, and it's the first time we've tried doing something on this scale. Hopefully we'll be able to engage a diverse group of freshers and returning students and give them some insight into what SCM is and what student Christianity can be about.

SCM Leeds

Sarah Derbyshire, SCM Leeds President

SCM Leeds will have a presence at the University of Leeds Freshers’ Fair, with a stall on 20 September from 11am – 4pm. So be sure to look out for lots of free resources to take away and a chance to meet group members, who will give you a warm welcome and lots more info about what’s happening.

The new committee has also been busy planning the programme for the entire first term, here are a couple of the highlights:

3 October – joining the Leeds university chaplaincy welcome event, with an evening of entertainment lined up including a film or quiz, food and a trip to the pub.

10 October – An evening with Andy Flannagan, a Christian writer, speaker and singer-songwriter who is one of the directors of Christians in Politics. Andy is passionate about informing the church and society on making politics work for good, working with politicians from all sides of the political spectrum at CiP. Follow SCM Leeds on Twitter and Facebook for more info as it’s released.

Durham MethSoc

Suzanne Lees, Durham MethSoc President

Freshers’ Week at Durham University is 3-9 October. Look out for the Methodist Society (MethSoc) at the Union Fair on Wednesday 5 October and come over for a chat! We’ll be handing out flyers, with sweets too for extra encouragement!

We’re linked with the two Methodist churches in Durham so if you’re not too exhausted by the end of the week, we’d love to see you on 9 October at Elvet Methodist for their traditional family service at 10.45am or at North Road Methodist for their more informal service at 10.30am. Look out for details about walk-downs to meet others who are going. Our welcome event will take place after the evening service at Elvet Methodist Church. Again, there’ll be walk-downs for the service which begins at 6pm. This will be followed by a meal (yes, that’s right – free food!) and a MethSoc session led by our Chaplain. Another exciting event to look forward to is the candlelit procession to Durham Cathedral on 16 October – mark that down in your calendar now!

Our regular meetings are on Sundays at 7pm with guest speakers and sandwiches at Elvet Methodist, and Bible Studies on Friday evenings hosted by someone from the committee.

Birmingham MethSoc

Philippa Jefferies, Birmingham MethSoc President

Freshers’ week for the University of Birmingham is the week starting 20 September and MethSoc will have a stall at the society fair on Friday 23 September.

We will have cake, flyers, SCM information and a brand new welcome recipe book created by members of MethSoc! As per usual we will be doing a cake delivery service around all the first year halls during the weekend of Freshers’ Week. On Sunday 25 September there will be lifts available to Sellyoak Methodist Church for the morning service (also offered throughout the term) and all are welcome to join us and our chaplain Andrew for a pub lunch after church.

Our first MethSoc meetup will take place on Monday 26 September at 6:30pm in the Chaplaincy, which will involve a ready steady cook competition. We aim to be a friendly, welcoming group and are looking forward to meeting lots of new people.


This is part one of our Freshers 2016 round-up - catch up with more news and events going on in part two, including at Essex, Exeter and Sheffield.

Tags: FreshersUniversityChurches

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