Bristol University Student Faith Trail
1st May 2019
On Wednesday 13th March, a group, which included Anglican Reverend Ed Davis, Coordinating Chaplain of the University of Bristol, lecturers and students from different faith groups from Bristol University paid a visit to Bristol Central Seventh-day Adventist Church.
In an email sent to local Pastor Royston Smith, Reverend Davis indicated that this was a planned visit for the group who would be embarking on a faith trail for that day. They would be visiting three other churches/faith groups and their final stop was Bristol Central. Reverend Davis explained that ''the aim of the Faith trail was to focus not so much on history and belief systems but to understand more about living faith communities - their identity, experience, and focus''. He further stated, ''what is unique about the Faith Trail is the chance to hear from a person of faith who is active in their community, about what it is like to be part of that faith in the city we all share''.
The group was welcomed by Pastor Royston Smith, Mary Philip the Community Ministries leader, Leandra Philip-Chipulu, Assistant to the Adopt a Student initiative, Albert Gardiner - Adventist Youth Leader, Florence Chibowa - Women Ministries Leader, and Rani Pawar - Health Ministries Leader.
Pastor Smith started off by informing them about how the Advent movement began and when the Adventist Church was established in the St Paul’s area of Bristol. During the presentation, there were several questions regarding SDA beliefs and practices; as well as the challenges the denomination faces in contemporary society. Pastor Smith aptly explained some of the Church’s fundamental beliefs, as well as made several references to Ellen G White’s writing- acknowledging the Bible as our primary source of light. He highlighted one of the challenges that faces the church is the fact that it can be too small for large functions and sometimes the hall cannot be used for certain events, which means hiring a bigger space. However, he informed them of plans to expand the church within the next few years.
Community Ministries leader, Mary Philip spoke to the group about the Adopt A Student project, which was she initiated in February 2018. Philip explained how the project would benefit University students and hoped that Bristol University would introduce it to their students. This initiative had been well received by the University of the West of England as a pilot that can be rolled out in the UK. Mary also informed them of the annual Life Colours health event, which is specifically targeting the community by educating and raising awareness of how to live a healthier lifestyle. Albert Gardiner informed them about the Church’s youth programmes, projects and initiatives, which is gaining momentum among the youth of the church. Florence Chibowa introduced the Women's Ministry department and how the Church plans to support students in different ways. While Rani Pawar explained how the Church encouraged members to follow a vegan/vegetarian diet and to live and dress modestly, in accordance with Biblical principles.
Whilst some of the visitors had to leave early, those who were able to stay were treated to light refreshments after the presentation then posed for a group photo. One of the students commented to Leandra, that they were very impressed with the presentations and how the church was so involved in the community. A member who participated stated "it was a wonderful experience for Bristol Central Church to have an opportunity to work in collaboration with the university, students and other faith groups in the community."