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“We do not presume….” 17 September 2013

Posted by Dr Moose in Chaplaincy, Church, Life, Ponderings, University.
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… are the opening words of a prayer in the Church of England service of Holy Communion, but you might not know that. In fact there’s an awful lot that you might not know. (Just like there’s an awful lot that I know I don’t know!) This was something that I especially noticed this weekend, and was reinforced last night.

This week at University, in the East Midlands University Town (EMUT) that is not to be named (to protect both the innocent and the guilty), is Freshers’ Week. Over the past Weekend several thousand students arrived on the premises, with a greater or lesser number of parents, siblings and relatives in tow, to enrol, find where they were living and experience all the excitement and anxiety that comes with it. I’m always delighted to be able to work Welcome Weekend, spreading a little humour and giving away something that should be useful to each new student who comes through the enrolment process. (This year it was a pen: previous years have seen us giving away rather wonderful bottle-opener keyrings, but austerity is to blame this year for a shortage of funds. No matter, it makes a positive initial impression.)

I’ve occupied the same place in the enrolment path for several years now and have noticed that there is always something missing from the script that the Student Welcome Team use at their station near me. “Your next stop is the Restaurant, for your course information packs”. The exact script may differ, and it may be accompanied by a wave of the arm, but that’s the gist of it. Sounds good. Except often the team member and new student are in a position where the Restaurant cannot be seen, and of course, there is the implicit assumption that said new student will know what the Restaurant looks like, or is not so overwhelmed by all the goings on that they will actually read the sign over the door that says “Restaurant”! I find the addition of the phrase “that glass monstrosity over there” comes in helpful at this point.

At least at this time of the year the new students, no matter how self-assured many of them appear, are rather more open to gentle enquiries about whether they would like some help than will be the case in a few bare weeks, which makes my days even more enjoyable on campus. For once in a while I can actually be a pastor, guiding the lost sheep!  They are more open to trying the new, discovering for example that the free hot drinks we offer in the Chaplaincy Centre really are free and that we don’t all have multiple heads, or want to convert them to a different faith (not that many have a clue what Chaplaincy is or what a Chaplain might be…)

And the reinforcement I mentioned last night? An enlightening conversation with my Father-in-Law on the phone yesterday evening when over a space of some 20 minutes I was able to tell him something off the work I did in Multi-Faith Chaplaincy, work which obviously he had no idea about, other than his own memories of university life over half a century ago. This got me thinking, wondering about how many of my local clergy colleagues had a similar lack of knowledge or understanding. “We do not presume…” But do we? Time for a report, or a visit to Deanery Chapter or Deanery Synod, methinks…..

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Comments»

1. colezoe - 18 September 2013

Hello! I loved reading your blog about freshers, brought back so many memories! I’m now going into my last year and am trying to find the right way to prepare myself for 7 nights non stop again. I’ve followed your blog so I can keep an eye on your next posts 🙂 I’d love it if you could check out my blog http://mylifemybubble.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/fresh-once-more/ xxx


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