7th September 2017

Over 100 former staff and students travelled from as far away as Australia, the United States, and across Europe to attend a reunion at Newbold on the first weekend of August.

The event, which attracted over twice the number of attendees as the 1960s reunion in 2013, featured a concert from the Wedgwood Trio, a sermon by former Newbold Principal and former General Conference President Dr Jan Paulsen, and a boat trip on the River Thames, as well as many opportunities to reconnect and reminisce.

The weekend opened with a campus tour hosted by College Principal, Dr John Baildam, 363801752826_75480361b5_owho pointed out recent renovations and campus developments, including the installation of biomass boilers, and spoke about planned improvements and enhancements to the campus. He also updated attendees about what each building is currently used for, the programmes we offer and where they are housed.

The Friday evening programme opened with a welcome from Dr Baildam, who spoke about the College's current leadership since 2013 and updated the group on Newbold's partnership arrangements with external universities as well as the College's accreditation awarded by external bodies. He detailed some of the challenges the College is facing, as well as plans to meet those challenges – including enhancements to current programme areas. Dr Baildam also spoke about recent campus renovation projects, several of which had been made possible through donations and bequests from friends, alumni and a former colleague, and he announced plans for the refurbishment and upgrade of the ground floor of Moor Close to provide improved dedicated conference facilities (subject to approval from the Listed Buildings authorities) – also thanks to a bequest. He closed by thanking everyone for being a part of the Newbold family.

Dr Jerry Hoyle, 1960s alumnus and President of the Newbold College Council, also spoke to the group. He outlined the 355911189754_29ed033078_o12inception of the Council, which exists to advise and consult with the Principal, to assist in the development and the enhancement of the College, and to promote Newbold as a higher education institution. Dr Hoyle noted that activity between the College and the Council, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, had stagnated, but that both the Council and the current College leadership hope to breathe fresh life into it by inviting new membership. Dr Hoyle also outlined several projects at the College that had benefited from funds supplied by the Council, including Moor Close Lodge and the Smith Centre.

During the Friday evening programme attendees also had the opportunity to share their memories with the group, with stories ranging from a Mini on the stage in Salisbury Hall to Marmite being mistaken for chocolate spread. Big Day and Ingathering also featured as memories that the entire College was involved in, being taken in coaches to the surrounding areas to spend the day at the task.

A special round of applause was given when the group realised that Dr John Woodfield, former Head of the College's English Department, who will celebrate his 101st birthday this month, was in attendance.

Sabbath was opened with prayer and praise through song, performed362893140001_75715e924d_o by Valerie Fidelia (née Westwood) and accompanied by Mark Bond, a musician visiting with the Wedgwood Trio. This was followed by a meditation about leaving home and coming home from Helen Pearson (née Cooper). Helen drew from the Hebrew scriptures to highlight the importance of 'home' among God's people, of the ideas of rootedness and the values of family, heritage and identity, and of the equal importance of leaving home to experience a foreign environment and of living without the comforts of home. She closed by pointing out that it is important that we know where 'home' is to us, but also that we know what the Jews knew, and 'still know', that home is not where you are, it is the story you tell about your history and your life.

Attendees had a choice of Sabbath School classes with Barbara Abrahamian (née Beavan), or with Helen Pearson, and during the formal Sabbath School programme Garth Anthony spoke about his time in mission service, giving examples of the way that various communities he had worked with had created their own missions, and emphasising the need to rethink mission.

The main 3628931111301_5159cd0286_oservice was held in the Newbold Church Centre, with Dr Jan Paulsen as guest speaker. Dr Paulsen spoke about the background that brought him to Newbold, then used stories to introduce the topic of how to relate to and deal with unsettling things in the Church.  He asked the question, "if the Church is on hold, what happens to Christ?" He gave examples of discontent and conflict and the need to see ourselves as pilgrims here temporarily, explaining that the Church is a house for sinners and all belong as we search. Dr Paulsen warned the congregation to be cautious with the hearts and minds of people, reminding them that today is the day of salvation, and asking them whether they recognise how generous God is. "He will teach you if you don't construct roadblocks [such as criticism, anger, perfectionism etc]. The Church is meant to be a place of healing, safety and security", he said. "Discovery and truth is a task God gave to all of us.  We need openness, freedom, mutual respect and a safe place to learn.  God is a God of second chances." Dr Paulsen closed by cautioning the congregation not to put the Church on hold but to move boldly to make a supportive, growing community.

The service also featured special music from a choir made up of around 25 alumni, led by Dr Sandra Rigby-Barrett, Head of Newbold's Department of Business and Humanities, and from 355911512114_e7a5f5f750_o1Seka Becejac (née Dedić), former Music teacher at the College, on organ.

A downpour of rain on Sabbath afternoon slightly delayed the traditional afternoon walk to Virginia Water, but the sun made a spectacular reappearance and the outing was much enjoyed by all who attended, some of whom had made the trip to Newbold just for the Sabbath activities.

Iconic Adventist musicians, and Newbold 1960s alumni, the Wedgwood Trio – Jerry Hoyle, Bob Summerour, and Don Vollmer, accompanied by Mark and Conna Bond – gave a concert on Saturday evening which was open to all. The first-half of the concert was held in a worship style, but after sunset attendees were also treated to a wide selection of lively music.

On Sunday the group travelled to Windsor for a boat trip on the Thames, as the weekend came to a close after lunch.

[Kirsty Watkins]

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