Sanctum at Colchester Sixth Form College – Tuesday and Wednesday

The level of enthusiasm and involvement from students and staff continues.

DSC_0809 On Tuesday we had lesson visits from two "Theory of Knowledge" groups from the College IB course. Both groups were moving from discussion about scientific knowledge to an exploration of the role that faith may play in understanding and knowledge. We had a great morning with these groups, talking about faith in general, our faith in particular, and introducing them to Sanctum. Kathryn, our Chaplain at the college, also shared her story of how she became a Christian from a very sceptical background and the experience of God that completely changed her life. These groups were a real privilege to connect with and some of the students subsequently came back to spend more time at Sanctum

As with Monday, the prayer space in the college quiet room continued to fill with prayers on all four walls. There is already a strong movement to keep it open in its current form beyond this week, such is the enthusiasm for a constant prayer space within the college.

On Wednesday we once again had a steady stream of visitors – we think we're getting about 50 a day. The most accurate way of gauging attendance is by counting the number of people in the photos we take of them at the beginning of their visit, though there are always others who are making a return visit. We take the photos as part of a fancy dress activity introducing them to the idea of a life journey. These photos are printed out and pinned to the Chaplaincy notice board to demonstrate that we're part of a community on a journey together. Obviously these photos are taken with permission of the students (only 4 have said no so far!) and are not for any other use, so I won't be posting them anywhere.

But here's an example, showing our Chapain, Kathryn (unrecognisable as Mickey, or is it Minnie, Mouse!) and our friend Ruth who was helping today. Also, Aslan, who is helping us for the week.

DSC_0772In a first for us, this Sanctum has a definite start and finish point for each visitor. The fancy dress photo is the introduction and writing your name on a luggage tag is the start. Students then circulate among the six activities (the fewest we've had, but limited here by space) before checking in with one of the team again to do the final 'value cards' activity, described on Monday. This is a guided activity and it's defintely giving Sanctum so much more depth in creating opportunities for some amazing conversations and, for some students, a kind of basic life-coaching. It feels as though we've stumbled upon something really powerful and I'm looking forward to developing this in the next Sanctum we run, which is back in a secondary school. 

Sadly, the College has been rocked by the tragic death of a student in an accident on Monday, and today the whole college observed a 2 minute silence. It's been a privilege to be in the college, to be able to share in the grief, and to have team members available, Kathryn in particular, should any student (or member of staff) want to chat, even if briefly. Some have, and a few prayers have appeared in the quiet room prayer space.

Here are some of today's visitor book quotes:

  • "I will try to express problems in more comforting ways and look at everyone in a positive light."
  • "Really helped me reflect on what's happening. Made me think."
  • "Gave a good insight into who I am and who I want to be."
  • "Touched me in ways I've never felt."

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