In 2014 Sue Willard wrote:
Peter and I have just spent an exciting, inspirational and thought-provoking week at the first ever Summer College run by the William Booth training college. The theme of the week was Mission, and 47 delegates attended from all parts of the UK, most of whom are Salvationists.
The week started with welcomes and worship â€“ a chance to get to know each other and invite God to journey with us. Subsequent days were filled with a mix of Bible study, lectures and outings. Each day began with prayers, often with a picture or song to reflect upon. Then followed lectures covering aspects of Salvation Army history (where we have come from); mission studies (what we are doing); and doctrine (what we believe). The college staff made sure that lectures were never dull, and their teaching was interesting and relevant. Several times my eyes were opened to something new â€“ or to something I hadn t thought about before.
One of the sessions that surprised and inspired us was when we watched a film called â€œThe Wayâ€, and followed it with discussion. It is amazing what elements of faith, and Christian concepts can be drawn out of an ordinary mainstream film…
We were able to choose from a variety of places to worship on the Sunday evening, giving us a different experience, and we went to Holy Trinity Church, Brompton. By a strange â€œcoincidenceâ€, Katie Millest (daughter of Andy and Julie from Gillingham corps) was preaching, and she was just inspirational!
We had a guided tour of the East End of London, walking in the footsteps of William Booth and ending at Abney park cemetery where we sang â€œO Boundless Salvationâ€ over his grave!
On another day we visited Faith House and Springfield Lodge, two Salvation Army social centres, where the staff talked passionately about how they come alongside people in their local communities, forming relationships and transforming lives. We heard wonderful stories about what they do, and how they rely on donations and money from the Annual Appeal to fund their work. We found these visits very moving.
During the week there were plenty of opportunities to interact with our fellow delegates, either in organised discussion groups or just chatting informally over cups of tea. We met up with friends we had met at previous events, and made some new friends too.
Friday came all too soon and we met in the assembly hall (itself steeped in history), for a final worship session led by David and Jane Alton. Time was given for people to share testimony, or poems and stories composed during our week at the college. A fitting end to a wonderful week.
Steve Dutfield, who organised the event, is already planning ahead â€“ and next year s Summer College is from 1st-7th August. Why not give it a try?