Dr Hywel Clifford, the Tutor in Old Testament at Ripon College Cuddesdon, coordinated a weeklong Consultation at St George’s College (Windsor Castle) in October, just before the university’s new academic year began. Entitled ‘The Old Testament in the Church and Beyond’, Hywel and two other Oxford University colleagues – Dr Deborah Rooke (Regent’s Park College) and Dr John Screnock (Oriental Institute) – took 25 conference delegates with at least 5 years of experience in ordained ministry and mission on an engaging journey through the canonical sections of the Old Testament.
Covering a range of enriching and challenging topics by means of lectures, group discussion, and text study, the delegates were invited to consider afresh foundational biblical ideas and their relevance today. This all took place in Vicar’s Hall, a setting conducive to learning; with each day framed by worship in St George’s Chapel, and time spent together over food and in conversation. The week began with recognition of the huge role the Old Testament has in Christianity and ended with reflection on how to take the insights and inspirations gained during the Consultation back into society.
It was naturally a real treat for everyone to be at Windsor Castle (the Queen returned there during the week) and to have the privilege of being resourced, by hearing from one another, within its iconic walls. The wider world is never far away: both Eton College Chapel and the busy M4 motorway are visible in the distance, as well as the market town of Windsor below. The delegates at Cuddesdon’s own weeklong Summer School in Biblical and Theological Studies in 2020 will be able to enjoy a tour of St George’s College – a ‘royal peculiar’ of evocative grandeur and centuries-long memory.