Last week we had our farewell service in chapel and some of the leavers spoke about their experience of university and chapel community. Here are the reflections of our very own Hannah, a fourth year English Literature and Spanish student.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus says that ‘all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another’. If I had to summarise my experiences of chaplaincy while at university in one word, it would be love. In my first week of university, I got overwhelmed by the size of the campus and ducked into Chaplaincy House to seek refuge and it has acted as a safe harbour ever since. Even if it’s empty, the love stored in those walls makes me feel calmer and less frantic and less argh. At the core of all the memories I want to share is a sense of community, friendship and fellowship.
I was the only first year to regularly attend chapel in my first year and when I think back, I feel like I was kinda the baby of chaplaincy? That’s not to say that I was babied, but I think chapel community has a way of letting that sense of fellowship and love wrap around the youngest ones? You’ll probably have to ask the current first years how they feel. I was particularly looked after by someone called Hannah, who was studying a PGCE, and a third year Geography student called Christa, but really, everyone in chapel community cares because, as Christians, we love each other.
Of course, the biggest demonstration of the community showing me their love was that time I got baptised. That was pretty cool. The nicest thing, obviously aside from actually being baptised, was the number of cards that had someone’s name followed by the words “chapel community” in brackets. I think the fact that multiple people thought “you probably don’t remember who I am exactly, but I am thinking of you and wishing you well on this day” demonstrates the love inside this community.
I also really liked the Chaplaincy trip to Liverpool that happened in my first year. Three Hannahs and two Sophies went on the chaplaincy trip to Liverpool in 2016, because that was the year of Hannahs and Sophies. If you didn’t know someone’s name, guess one of those and you were probably right. It was a lot smaller than the trip to the zoo we just had but the sense of fun and feeling of community were exactly the same.
Second year was bookended by pretty massive displays of friendship and love: the first service of the academic year had us announcing our engagement. Joseph told me he vaguely remembers that happening in the first ever chapel service he went to, so we do envelope everyone from the beginning. The other big Moment of friendship was definitely that time these two first met.
Peter and Vicky had guests over that day, guests who never got a word in at the dinner table because the history nerds got into a discussion about the Byzantine Empire. And why we shouldn’t call it the Byzantine Empire. For about four hours.
And then that weekend, we went away and it was sad! But then we came back! And there were new people, and suddenly I was the grown up in my fourth year of study taking freshers under my wing. And I was one of those final year students hanging around Chaplaincy House discussing my dissertation. And there were new things I’d never done before, like mobile ashing and baking. I started going to Faith & Food. There were more Chaplaincy trips. That sense of community grew stronger, like I’d never been gone. Sure, some people are gone and some people are new, but the love remains. Only faces ever change, the core of who we are as a community remains the same.
May we all strive to follow these principles of worship, learning, mission and friendship throughout our lives, but the greatest of these is friendship. The greatest of these is love. A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you. Amen.
By Hannah Buchanan