As many of you will know, I moved to Cambridge in September to take up the study of theology and formation for ministry. I feel richly blessed being able to live and study in this place. I live in a room in my seminary, Westcott House, on Jesus Lane, in the middle of the city. I am part of a lovely community of about 50 ordinands and a staff of circa 10. It is an interesting mixture of ages and academic and professional backgrounds. There are also some families with small children living here. We have our own chapel for the Daily Offices and daily Holy Communion. We also make of use of the big neogothic All Saints church, next door. During terms we share our meals and there is a Common Room to meet each other in spare time. All of the students are attached to churches around, many of them to college chapels. I am attached to Great Saint Mary’s, the university church in the middle of the city. In terms of style of worship it is comparable to HTC. Throughout the year there are a number of special services in this church, bringing in all kinds of dignitaries from both the university and the local authorities They may wear all kinds of fancy uniforms and colourful academic hoods. In the past months, for instance, we had a few ‘university sermons’. There was also a special, moving service focused on traffic accidents and a service for all who are working in the judiciary. On Remembrance Day the church was packed with service men and women in all kinds of uniforms and a former general in uniform was preaching. This is all very English. In the Netherlands we are not used to having an ‘established church’. But in this country the church plays an important and natural role in public life, which in my view is very powerful. Connected to Great Saint Mary is a ‘pioneering ministry’ in an old church which is divided into a café at the front and a chapel in the back. In this chapel all kinds of activities find place that are less fitting in the big church, such as a lovely service for toddlers and their parents on Wednesday mornings and services with a more informal or meditative style. I am happy to be able to gain a lot of valuable experiences with assisting and leading all kinds of services and of course with preaching as well. But studying theology is of course the main activity. Cambridge is a very good place for this, with fine scholars and excellent libraries around. Next year I will also do a number of social placements as part of my formation in church and secular contexts. The whole study will take me two years. And after that, I hope to start my curacy somewhere in the Diocese in Europe.
I do miss our community of Holy Trinity Utrecht. I regard you as my sending parish with which I will always feel a special connection and I keep you in my prayers. When I am visiting family and friends in the Netherlands I will try to join you in worship on Sundays. And if anyone of you happens to be around in Cambridge in the coming 1,5 year, don’t hesitate to contact me!