First Impressions of University Chaplaincy
One of the many wonderful parts of our circuit family is the community that we're connected to at the University of Birmingham through the work of our Chaplain, Reverend Mindy Bell. This year Mindy has had Josh Askwith, a Pioneer Development Intern with the Methodist Church working with her and he has shared his first impressions of university chaplaincy below.
This letter was first published in the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy Newsletter of the University of Birmingham.
Chaplaincy is new to me. It might be new to you too, or if you are a regular reader of this newsletter or visitor to our building at St. Francis Hall (global pandemics permitting), then you might be quite familiar with it. I began as an intern with the Methodist Church in Birmingham at the start of September and have been working at the university chaplaincy as part of my role since then.
I graduated from the University of Birmingham a few years ago, so going onto campus again to meet students in Welcome Week felt familiar to me. Playing table tennis and talking with first years and returners was largely what I had expected from chaplaincy, making conversation with students and raising awareness of the service and support that is available to them. Most were happy to just play table tennis, but some were interested in talking a little about faith and spirituality.
Joining in with regular events such as Midday Prayer and student faith society meetings on Zoom have shown me how important the chaplaincy is. Both informal and formal gatherings to provide time away from our day-to-day lives and focus on faith has been so welcome for me, and I have relished being a small part of it for others. I now have an awareness of some of the work that the chaplains do and an insight into how valuable they are in serving students and staff.
As part of my work for the chaplaincy, I have organised a few events to provide an opportunity to discuss faith and spirituality in a relaxed way. Leading ‘Spirituality on the Big Screen’, it was exciting to see the conversations drawn from the deeper meanings of the film Groundhog Day. Using this classic film to reflect on our own lives and beliefs lead to some funny conversations, as well as some that were surprisingly profound!
My first impressions of chaplaincy are of how wide the range of meetings are between chaplains and students or staff. From religious festivals to passing conversations and everything in between, chaplains are available to meet each person and discuss life and spirituality on their terms, whether they have a faith or not. I am looking forward to seeing how things develop this coming year as part of the chaplaincy team!
Josh Askwith – Pioneer Development Intern with the Methodist Church
Thank You and More Information
Thank you to Josh for letting us share this letter. If you'd like more information about University Chaplaincy or if you're a student at the University of Birmingham and want to get in touch, please do contact Reverend Mindy Bell on firstname.lastname@example.org