Shermara Fletcher – one of the Christians on this year’s Buxton Leadership Programme – is part of a pioneering chaplaincy team at the new London Design and Engineering University Technical College. The College is a secondary school next door to the University of East London in Beckton, and has a particular focus on technical and scientific subjects.
The Diocese of Chelmsford is a founding partner in the College, and has entered into partnership with the Centre for Theology and Community to develop a new form of chaplaincy, using the practices of community organising. At the end of the first term, Shermara explains how the work is going…
“It has been a challenging, inspiring and exciting experience. Students at LDE UTC have also had the opportunity to think about the positive and negative state of their communities and the role that they can play, ask questions about their own faith and explore the faiths of their peers in a safe environment. This exploration has consequently fostered mutual respect, understanding and preparation for their current and future engagement with the ever increasing diversity of the world.
“Faith and it’s important impact in everyday life, perception and reasoning has also been explored in the school’s Thursday morning ‘learning 4 life’ assemblies. Here, students are able to see the origins of different world faiths and the origins of their practice in the UK. Many students were surprised to know that the first mosque was built by two English aristocratic men!”
The range of activities being initiated and facilitated by the chaplaincy team is wide: a Gospel choir, a community organising society for people of all faiths and none, and weekly prayer groups for Christians and for Muslims. Around half of the pupils choose to spend their time on one or more of these activities each week! Inspired by the experience of organising in Citizens UK, the chaplaincy team believes that religion and belief should not be shied away from as a source of division. Rather, drawing more deeply on our beliefs, and understanding those of our neighbours, is vital to the building of a more just society in which all can feel at home.
Check us out on twitter @LDEUTCC for more information!