When I studied Marketing we discussed a couple of related concepts – resilience and robustness. Both terms related to how a business survives in a competitive marketplace – can they hold their place in the market when challengers come? Used in this way, these terms became combative – me against you, us against them – and as such they never sat particularly well with me. However, over the past couple of months, with all the challenges of Covid-19, I’ve found that the College is both resilient and robust – but it’s not been “me against you”, in fact, quite the opposite, it’s “you alongside me”. It’s been this sort of resilience that has meant we are still moving forward. Yes, there are real challenges for our students who have added pressures on top of their studies; but despite this the SBC community has drawn closer together. Our weekly rhythm of sharing Scripture and praying as a community has gone from being a healthy habit, to an important time of connection and building one another up.
We recognise we are in a fortunate position – there’s much pain and grief that’s been caused by the global pandemic. But we find ourselves fortunate for a supportive community; fortunate for good friends of the College; fortunate for a discerning staff team. We don’t think this situation has been caused by God and we don’t think it’s an opportunity to capitalise on suffering and hardship, but we do sense that we’re positioned well to equip people to participate in God’s Kingdom and this is all the more important in challenging times. Our graduates and students are finding themselves on the front line of public service. Some graduates are chaplains in hospitals (and we had three students on hospital chaplaincy placements this term); some in prison chaplaincy (and again three more students on placement with prison chaplains); many graduates are pastors caring for their congregations and often a first port of call when people need help or encounter grief. For us, this is not a time to shrink back, but to remain firm in our calling.
In that spirit, we’re forging ahead and planning for next term. And we’re becoming more resilient by partnering alongside others to be in the best possible shape for the upcoming academic year. This week, the College became a partner member of the Digital Theological Library – an online resource of over 600,000 theological books, which our students will have access to wherever they are. This places us in a better position than ever before to meet the challenges that may lie ahead. And we’re constantly innovating to provide for as wide an audience as possible, while maintaining our commitment to face-to-face teaching within a strong learning community. Dr. Steve Younger is planning to run our Chaplaincy and Schools course again starting in Sept. Moreover, he’s partnered with Christian Values in Education (CVE) to offer part-funding for the module. Dr. Andrew Clarke, who facilitates our Northern Hub and is the Continuing Ministry Development Lead for the Baptist Union of Scotland, will also be teaching a new class fully online – Paul and the Gospel of Jesus. This class will be recognised by the BUS as part of its commitment to Continuing Ministerial Development and is the first of a number of opportunities the College and the BUS will partner on to provide training over the next academic year. If any of this has piqued your interest, we’ll also be hosting an online Open Evening on Tuesday June 16th at 7:30pm and we’d love it if you would share this with anyone interested in studying with us. (Please email the College to register and get more details: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Of course, there remains lots of big questions: How will the pandemic affect universities? Will we be teaching online or on campus? But whatever lies ahead, we’re ready to continue equipping people to participate in God’s Kingdom and we hope that you will stand with us through praying for us and sharing about us.
Lecturer and Communications Coordinator