19 May 2021

Praying in Lent and Easter 2021:
92, Westcott House, Cambridge

The chapel and buildings of Westcott House appear to form visual cloisters for neighbouring All Saints’ Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During the Season of Easter this year, I am continuing my theme from Lent, taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

This week, we are in an ‘in-between week’, between Ascension Day and the Day of Pentecost. My photographs this week are from places I associate with the life of USPG. Earlier in this series, I introduced the Chapel in the USPG offices in Southwark and its stained glass windows (20 March 2021).

This morning (19 May 2021), my photographs are from Westcott House, Cambridge. This Anglican theological college on Jesus Lane was the venue for a residential meeting of USPG trustees in November 2015. I have also taken part in seminars in Westcott House organised by the Institute for Orthodox Institute for Christian Studies, which is based across the street at Wealey House, Jesus Lane, and I have visited Westcott House regularly when I have stayed around the corner at Sidney Sussex College.

During the residential meeting of USPG trustees in Westcott House, we met in the Knight Room, facing on one side onto Jesus Lane and out across the gardens of Jesus College, and on the other side onto the Front Court of Westcott House. We also took part the Community Eucharist in the college chapel.

Westcott House was founded in 1881 as the Clergy Training School by Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901), then the Regius Professor of Divinity in Cambridge University and later Bishop of Durham.

Westcott was one of the Cambridge Triumvirate of Biblical scholars, alongside Joseph Lightfoot (1828-1899), who was Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity at Cambridge and who preceded Westcott as Bishop of Durham, and the Dublin-born Fenton Hort (1828-1892), Hulsean Professor of Divinity in Cambridge. Together, they produced The New Testament in the Original Greek, which lead to the Revised Version, the Revised Standard Version and eventually the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible.

William Derrick Lindsay Greer (1902-1972) became the first Irish-born Principal of Westcott House in 1944. He was educated at Campbell College, Belfast, Saint Columba’s College, Rathfarnham, and Trinity College Dublin. He was the Secretary of the Student Christian Movement (SCM) in Britain and Ireland (1935-1944) before becoming the Principal of Westcott House. He later became Bishop of Manchester (1947-1970), and died in 1972.

Staff members over the decades have included many important Anglican theological minds, including Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury; John Habgood, Archbishop of York; Hugh Montefiore, Bishop of Birmingham; Alan Webster, Dean of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London; and, of course, Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. Others include Charles Freer Andrews, a missionary, educator and social reformer in India; Canon John Collins, a leading figure in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Anti-Apartheid Movement; and the theologians Don Cupitt, later Dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Mary Tanner, Angela Tilby and Harry Williams.

Among the Irish alumni was Dr Maurice O’Connor (‘Con’) Drury was (1907-1976), who was an ordinand for just a year before he left Westcott House. Con Drury became a friend of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, while he was an undergraduate at Saint John’s College, Cambridge, and was instrumental in arranging Wittgenstein’s various visits to Ireland.

Inside the chapel of Westcott House (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 17: 11-19 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 11 ‘And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.’

Preparing for the Community Eucharist in the chapel of Westcott House (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (19 May 2021) invites us to pray:

Let us give thanks for religious communities, and the people who devote their lives to worship. May they have strength and peace in all they do.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

A quiet corner near the chapel in Westcott House, Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The bell at the chapel in Westcott House (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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