Thanking God for our wonderful inaugural World Christianity Summer Institute

Theme: Grief, Resilience and Hope amid the Pandemic’

Henry Martyn Hall, Cambridge, 18-22 July 2022

Our first ever residential World Christianity Summer Institute in Cambridge fell during the hottest days on record (temperature wise) and there were many travel disruptions that week too due to strikes and weather. However, we can and we did praise God for many answers to prayer.

“Grief, Resilience and Hope Amidst the Pandemic” was a great theme to examine during our sessions in the Henry Martyn Hall, a historic mission building in central Cambridge.

The Institute began with a keynote address by Revd Dr Jooseop Keum, General Secretary of the Council for World Mission, Singapore. Our speakers during the sessions (in person and online) came from or had specialist knowledge of Hong Kong, the UK, India, the West Indies, Nigeria, Brazil and Korea so we had a truly global picture of how the world had been affected and responded to the pandemic, how the Christian church had helped (or hindered) efforts and how this experience can be shared and improved. The lectures followed a well-planned journey through the institute’s title and we were happy to open up Professor Charlotte Summers’ talk at the Divinity Faculty on the Wednesday evening to the general public. Prof. Summers is Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at the University of Cambridge and had led our city hospital and university’s response to the pandemic, so was uniquely qualified to give a personal and fascinating perspective.

The participants for our inaugural Institute came from Brazil, Zimbabwe, India, the UK, Kenya, South Korea, South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria. Sadly six prospective participants did not receive their visas in time. However, a still very engaged, diverse and interesting cohort came together and we are thankful that in these, still rather uncertain times, the week was able to go ahead as it did.

We enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Rose Castle Foundation (a UK based reconciliation charity) who facilitated two helpful story telling workshops, and with the Theological Education in the Anglican Communion (TEAC) and with multitudinous other partners too. 

The visit to the Cambridge University Library which kindly organised an exclusive exhibition for the Summer Institute participants on Bibles and rare books, the heritage walk, an evening at the home of our Librarian as well as the outings and services at King’s, Pembroke and St John’s College Chapels were also appreciated and enriched the week enormously.

We are so grateful for you all, and for your energy (those involved) and commitment to this inaugural residential event. They were five very full and unforgettable days. Also, thank you very much to those who prayed for the Summer Institute, we really believe your prayers made it possible. We are also grateful to those who kept the Centre Library open whilst the entire team were involved in the programme.

A particular highlight were the dinners under the trees in the beautiful grounds of the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology on the first and final evenings.  Our hospitable friends at Lyn’s House kindly allowed us to use their home and facilities and we had outside caterers deliver the food.  On the Monday evening one of our host families said it was “a taste of heaven”!  It doesn’t come much better than that!!

Our sincere thanks to everyone – individuals and institutions – who have supported and worked for the success of our inaugural Institute.

We certainly also learned a lot of ways we can do things differently/better and plans are already afoot for next year’s Institute (3-7 July 2023). Watch this space!