24 July 2023 | Bracknell, UK [David Neal]
Anticipation is in the air as assembled families and friends gather together in Salisbury Hall on the campus of Newbold College of Higher Education (NCHE). Immediately outside in the reception area and straddling the staircase, academic staff and graduating students line up for the Processional. Emotions are high – relief on the part of students that the final exam has passed, the thesis accepted, and academic study for a while completed. There is a job to go to – a career to begin, or concern that the post Newbold future isn’t as clear as perhaps it should be.
But for today – it’s a time to celebrate the achievement. Years of intense study, long hours, wrestling with the process of faith deconstruction and reconstruction, thrifty living, combined with a keen and intense ambition to ‘get out there’ and change the world – this day has come at last. But wait – for many of the 2023 graduating class, many are already ‘changing the world’ not least through denominational employment. Others are graduating and entering pastoral ministry as a mid-life new career pathway. Today’s graduating class has changed a lot from what it used to be.
Refurbished and modernised and well equipped to serve the needs of today’s learning community, the Salisbury Hall ambiance feels smart, up to date, conveying an image of excellence and opportunity. And yet, perhaps it is best identified as ‘the’ structural symbol of Newbold’s continuity. In this set of classrooms and assembly hall, tens of thousands of aspiring ministers, bible workers, musicians, teachers and perveyors of the English language, have wrestled with their respective academic disciplines preparing themselves for a life of service to build the Kingdom of God.
In this report we bring to you the Awards Ceremony highlights.
The Principal’s Remarks
Dr Stephen Currow has been the NCHE Principal for just over a year, and as he describes, “This year has continued Newbold’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.” Watch the Principal’s report in full here:
As president of the Trans-European Division (TED), and NCHE Board chair, Dr Daniel Duda’s interest in the college is deeply rooted having once served as a member of the academic staff. During the ceremony he was called on to honour and recognise the contribution of longstanding NCHE lecturer and Ellen White Estate director, Dr Radisa Antic.
“Today is an immense honour indeed to introduce a luminary in the field of theological studies, an individual whose dedication, scholarship and profound understanding, has significantly shaped the lives of students at Newbold, and inspired countless other students in the countries of the former Yugoslavia as well as around the world…”
Duda went on to welcome Antic as ‘Theology Lecturer Emeritus”.
Watch the full citation and Dr Antic’s response here:
Why Did the Mayor Need No Briefing Notes?
When the invitation to attend the 2023 Newbold College of Higher Education Awards Ceremony arrived in the hands of Councillor Naheed Ejaz, the recently appointed Mayor of the Borough of Bracknell Forest, it triggered a 20-year-old memory. Of all the hundreds of invitations the Mayor receives annually to visit to the many global corporation and industrial sites located within her UK Silicon Valley borough, the invitation to the Awards Ceremony is not the first time she had connected with the Newbold Community.
Discover how Mayor Ejaz first connected with Newbold.
Why Did Professor Ivan Browne never attend Newbold?
Guest speaker for the Awards ceremony was Professor Ivan Browne, Director of Public Health for the City of Leicester, England, and who was at the forefront of leading the city through the COVID-19 pandemic, and its extended lockdown period. Leicester born and bred, he is the son of two proud ‘Windrush generation’ West Indian parents and is closely linked to this local community as well as many others. Ivan has been in public service for over 35 years. As a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, Browne has been awarded the President’s Medal for his contributions to Public Health. He is an Honorary Professor in Public Health Practice within De Montfort University Leicester, where he is also one of their Pro-Chancellors.
Born and raised a Seventh-day Adventist Browne has served the Church in multiple roles including those of Deacon, Elder, Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Leadership. He played a leading role in the establishment of a church plant in Leicester that has now been running for over 20 years. He regards his public and spiritual life to be inextricably interlinked, and considers that his job gives him the chance to occupationally put into practice many of the elements that are core to his faith and to his Church. Occasionally, he has been heard joking that he is one of the few people who can claim both pay and power to encourage Adventist lifestyles to the wider population.
“As a boy there would have been no greater pleasure for my father, than had his boy ‘gone to Newbold’. Watch Professor Browne’s speech in full to find out the intriguing reason as to why he did not!
Presentation of the Graduating Students
While the speeches inspire – the moment the graduates have been waiting for is to recieve the well-earned degree, diploma, certificate or award. The presentation of the graduating students is led by Ms Serena Santona (Academic Registrar), Dr Laszlo Gallusz (Head of Centre for Ministry and Mission), and Dr Anthony Wagenersmith (Andrews University representative and TED Adventist Mission director). The ‘Charge of the Graduating Students’ was given by Dr Kayle de Waal (Governor and TED Education Director).
Watch here as the Graduating Students receive their awards:
The Student Response
With her newly received Mastor of Arts in Theology, the graduating class elected Marianne Thieme to give the student response. A former member of the Netherlands House of Representatives from 2006 to 2019, and ‘Party for the Animals’ political leader from 2002 to 2019. Theime’s journey into Adventism is in many ways unique, and was shared in the March 23, 2017 online edition of the Adventist Review.
In her speech on behalf of the graduating students Thieme shared how travelleing along with this ‘exceptional class’ (mostly via zoom), she “felt blessed and thoroughly privileged to have been able to use the time of Covid-19 lockdowns to delve deeper into the wonders, promises and depth of scripture.”
Thanking the NCHE administration for their consistent support, Thieme gave warm hearted thanks to the lecturers for their “extraordinary intellectual and spiritual generosity… and for providing an unforgetable teaching experience.”
Thieme ended the response by drawing attention to Mark 11:15-19 which records Jesus cleansing the temple, and noted that “Jesus alway chose the side of the weak, the poor, the downtroden. The invitation is clear, for this graduating class and all gathered, to be like the yeast in society.” (Luke 13:20-21)
Watch Marianne Thieme’s response in full here:
Thank you for taking the time to view these highlights of the 2023 NCHE Awards Ceremony.
[Photos: David Neal, Video: NCHE].