Over the course of this past term, I’ve been the Creative Missions class and two things in particular have struck about this class. First, has been my own opportunity to be a co-learner in the class. The class discusses our experiences of church, mission, and culture and explores the links between them, therefore hearing about student’s experiences has been key to reflecting upon my own experiences. Second, and related, it’s been excellent to connect with some of our recent graduates who are walking, talking witnesses to some brilliant missional practice.

In the past I’ve been involved in large evangelistic events attracting hundreds of people, but I’ve also been involved in church planting with just a handful of people trying to establish a consistent presence. “Mission” was understood quite differently in both contexts and the practice felt quite different in each. In this term’s class we’ve got students in island communities, in coastal fishing villages, and in urban city centres. I’m reminded that a one-size fits all approach doesn’t really work – not for mission but also not for culture. We can talk about cultural theory and discuss postmodernity, post-Christendom, post-secularism and any other number of “posts-“, and while these ideas might shape mission in part, when it comes to thinking about local mission, we ended up coining a phrase in class ‘think about the people on your “doorstep” and discover what is meaningful for them.’  

And this is where it’s been great to connect with some of our more recent graduates. Charles Maasz graduated just over 5 years ago and he returned to join us for a class to share about his experiences as CEO of Glasgow City Mission. He impressed upon us the need for meaningful engagement and genuine participation in people’s lives. This requires respecting the dignity of the people we engage with which often means looking at the long-term, rather than short-term “wins”. But what was most significant for in light of the class mantra was hearing Charles share about what it looked like to find people on your “doorstep” (often quite literally) and engage well with them in a way that witnessed to the life and example of Jesus. Glasgow City Mission provide a valuable and crucial service all year round, but particularly over these colder winter months. If you’d like to find out more, donate, or get involved then you can do so through their website: https://www.glasgowcitymission.com/   

Al Priestnall graduated almost 7 years ago and has set up a charitable organisation called Community Gift Exchange (CGX) in Ayr. It was brilliant to hear from Al about his journey from being involved in Work-Place Chaplaincy to CGX which supports people on the margins of society and looks to generate flourishing communities in Ayrshire. Community Gift Exchange has several enterprises from a bike workshop and furniture restoration to electrical good repair and a shop front to sell on these items. Al impressed upon us his hope of creating a welcoming and hospitable environment for all which not only restores goods but also people’s lives. Once again what was significant in light of meaningful engagement with those on our doorstep was the passion Al shared for his local community and for bringing meaning into the lives of those CGX engages with. CGX has some really inspiring projects in Ayr and if you’d like to find out more, support or volunteer then go to the CGX website: https://communitygiftexchange.com/

As a College, we’re so privileged to play even a small part in shaping the lives of our graduates and it’s great to see and hear from them a few chapters on. It reminds us that we exist for our students and we’re motivated by the graduates they go on to become. It brings us back to our vision statement: to equip people to participate in God’s kingdom through the church and in the wider world. If you’re interested in joining any of our modules, online or on-campus, or applying to our certificate, diploma, and degree programmes then please email graham.meiklejohn@uws.ac.uk