Graduations normally take place in early July but with a slight delay due to on-going restrictions, summer graduations are taking place in late August. However, we didn’t want to miss out of celebrating some of our upcoming graduates. In the first of two interviews (the second is here) we hear from Chris Townsend about life at College and what the future holds.
After much reading, writing, and learning, you’ve arrived at your graduation, looking back over the 4 years at SBC what are your highlights?
A genuine highlight for me was the Trinity module in 3rd year, especially around week 5 when I realised I was beginning to understand what the assignment questions were even asking (though it took a fair bit more hard work to find a way of answering them). Before coming to college, attempting to do a sermon series on the Nicene Creed left me feeling very exposed, and engaging with the most difficult concepts in theology has therefore been exciting, comforting and challenging all at once. I also have very fond memories of my first year, when a truly once-in-a-lifetime combination of SBC students gave rise to some particularly lively debate in class and really imbued the place with a sense of (sometimes anarchic) fun.
You did some excellent work for your final dissertation projects – can you summarise what you looked at and why you think it was good for you to look at it?
Thank you! At the root of my dissertation was a desire to challenge such ideas as that you can’t go into depth from the pulpit any more, or that culturally challenging Scriptures are best avoided. That idea found expression in my study of cinematic storytelling techniques, particularly those of the Hollywood summer blockbuster, and some proposals for the ways those techniques can be adapted for use in a spoken-word sermon. A cinema audience is prepared to be immersed in a fictional world for two hours or more on a Saturday night. While I wouldn’t argue for the return of two hour sermons on a Sunday morning, I do believe that if we can find ways to immerse our hearers in the world of Scripture, we will find ourselves in a position to lead them through everything it has to say, no matter how challenging.
A lot can happen in 4 years, when you started the degree did you envisage where you’d be at the end of it?
Well, I came to SBC to train ahead of entering accredited Baptist ministry, and I’m taking up a vacancy at the beginning of August, so in a sense I’m exactly where I knew God was calling me to be. What I didn’t have any foreknowledge of is where I would be called to. I was absolutely delighted to discover it would be at Central Baptist Church, Paisley, which is literally a stone’s throw from the College classroom window. I promise not to throw stones, but I may occasionally bring biscuits.
What comes next? Do you know your next step or are you still waiting for the next opportunity?
So, the next thing is to find out how to translate 4 years of classroom learning to service in a real, living church that’s called me as their minister and is looking to me to fulfil that role from day one. Alongside that, we have to scrub up our house to sell, and then move down to Paisley. Swapping a lochside forest for an urban jungle will be a shock to the system, and other than the catch-all title of “ministry” I really don’t know what the next few years will bring, but we have the assurance of knowing we are where God has been preparing us to be for some years now.
Well done, Chris! We look forward to seeing you graduate and step out into your next chapter!