We’re just about a year on from Graduation 2016 (which also means we’re looking forward to another graduation in just a few short weeks!) We thought it’d be good to catch up with a couple of our students, 12 months on from graduating. As a staff team we visited Charles where he is now working at the Wild Olive Tree cafe in Glasgow City Centre – of course, we couldn’t go without sampling their soups and scones (all of which we wholly recommend – the choc and nut scone was a real treat!)

I asked Charlee a little bit about what he is doing now and he shared a little about the work of Wild Olive Tree café

The Wild Olive Tree is an exciting project in Glasgow’s most central church building, right in the heart of Buchannan Street, St George Tron (SGT). After one congregation left the CoS, a new minister was drafted in to revitalise the place and cast it in a new light. SGT now functions as a ‘Kingdom Station’ in the city, housing Workplace Chaplaincy, Street Pastors, an internationals’ church, ex-offenders Bible Study groups, and has very strong links with Bethany Trust, Tear Fund, The Glasgow City Mission, and many other Christian and Third Sector agencies. The Wild Olive Tree project is a way of opening up the space as a place of hospitality and welcome and retreat to the public. We actively encourage a pay-it-forward scheme, use local producers and suppliers including Freedom Bakery (a prison enterprise teaching inmates and offenders new skills). My role is to cook one or two days a week, provide close mentoring to vulnerable persons looking to gain kitchen and work experience, to provide pulpit supply, and occasional strategic advise on operations.

This role ties in well with my ‘Portfolio Job’ which includes widespread preaching invitations, a day a week with Glasgow City Mission, and as part-time interim pastor at Alexandria Baptist Church.

It’s been a busy year for Charles being involved in these roles and opportunities but I wanted to know how he had reflected on SBC after a year of being away from the College environment and how that has shaped his thinking over the past year.

I entered year one having spent 15 years closely involved with a house church movement which had created tensions about literal interpretation and practical application. The SBC setting and modules enabled me to work through these tensions, find a language for them and the theological tools to connect it all up. It has anchored my thinking, led me to healthy and varied voices to partner with (authors, academics, teachers etc). It has helped me to utilise my inherent skills as well as supplying me with new ones.

If it were up to me I never would have left!!

We really enjoy seeing where SBC graduates end up and the impact of the College and it’s alumni (of course, we realise it’s not all down to us but we still like to think that our students carry a little of the SBC community with them wherever they go!) If you’re thinking of coming to join the SBC ‘family’ I thought it’d be good to find out from Charles what advice he’d give a prospective student coming in to the College.

Put more in, get more out! I really don’t think it pays to do the bare minimum. It isn’t all about the final grade, though that is important, but the final grade does not necessarily reflect formation. Being immersed in the reading, the Moodle (online learning environment) projects week to week, going to the non-compulsory lectures and seminars, taking up pulpit supply opportunities. All of this is very important in my opinion.

Finally, as we continue to cheer on our alumni, we asked what we could do to support Charles and I am sure you will join us in doing so too!

Please pray for continued discernment of purpose, direction, and equipping. Thank you!

And I’d add, go in to Wild Olive Tree and see what’s going on for yourself – when we were there we got to experience their midweek worship, as well as speak to their resident artist (whose take on The Last Supper is on display and worth seeing). A fascinating and enjoyable (and tasty) experience!