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Roger Standing inducted as new Principal of Spurgeon’s College

Tasked with inspiring a new generation of leaders 'to take risks and to be adventurous for God', the Revd Dr Roger Standing was inducted as the new Principal of Spurgeon’s College this week (Tuesday).

Roger had preferred the event to take place in the daytime on a day when the College community was gathered from around the country, and the result was a packed chapel and an overflow into the largest lecture room as he became just the 12th person inducted to the post in the College’s 157 year history. In addition to the staff and students of the College, there were many representatives of churches and the wider life of the Baptist Union, as well as some of Roger’s family and friends.

RogerLeading the service, the Revd Dr David Coffey OBE, the chairman of the College Council, read from Revelation 5. He brought greetings from Roger’s predecessor the Revd Dr Nigel Wright, now the Principal Emeritus of the College, and said that following Roger’s appointment we were now seeking his anointment by the Holy Spirit. As this was also the opening of year service, he particularly welcomed the many new students.

Picture: Marion Standing, Stuart Davison, Roger Standing, Rupert Lazar, Lynn Green, Paul Hills and Geoff Andrews

The opening hymn was ‘I cannot tell why He whom angels worship’, the words of which were written by a past Spurgeon’s College graduate, W. Y. Fullerton. The Scriptures were read by tutor Dr Stephen Wright (Isaiah 6:1-9), student Martin Hatfield (1 Timothy 4:9-16) and the chair of the College Governors, Mrs Sarah King (John 20:19-23).

Part of the service included the commissioning of the College’s newly formed Leadership Team.  In addition to Roger, this features Dr Peter Morden as Vice Principal, Dotha Blackwood, Linda Campbell, Chris King and Dr Pieter Lalleman.  Dr Joshua Searle was also welcomed as the new tutor in Theology and Public Thought.

The sermon was by the Revd Lynn Green, the new General Secretary of our Baptist Union of Great Britain. Based on 1 Timothy 4, her theme was ‘Be an example’. She said that with his team, Roger will shape and nurture the next generation of Christian leaders. In speech, in love, in life and in purity he is called to be their example.  Lynn quoted Mother Teresa of Kolkata, who famously said ‘God has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful.’

The actual act of induction as Principal of Spurgeon’s College was led by the Revd Geoff Andrews, the Regional Minister Team Leader of the London Baptist Association.  He also involved Roger’s wife, Marion, by asking her to pledge support for Roger’s ministry in the context of her own demanding role as head of a local primary school. Geoff commented on the strategic position of the College for all the London churches, not just the Baptists, and he urged Roger to train and then release the next generation of leaders from among the BME churches.

Lynn preaching Subsequently Roger received an array of original presents from different people.  A towel symbolising servanthood was presented by Harin Fernando (Spurgeon’s Finance Officer) on behalf of the College Community as a sign that Jesus calls us all to be servants and that the one who is first must be the servant of all.  A candle was given by Helen Stokley (2013 graduate) as a sign of the light and wisdom of Christ which the College staff and students seek as they study.

The Revd Paul Hills, the Regional Minister Team Leader of the Eastern Baptist Association, gave a Bible as a sign of the commitment of Spurgeon’s College to the study of the Scriptures and to preaching and teaching the Word of God so that the Body of Christ is equipped for works of service.  Another Regional Minister Team Leader, the Revd Stuart Davison of the South Eastern Baptist Association, presented a holding cross as a reminder of the College motto, Et teneo et teneor (I both hold and am held).

Prayers of intercession were led by the Revd Rupert Lazar, who was Roger’s colleague as minister of West Croydon Baptist Church.

Lynn Green commented that Roger’s character and integrity will be decisive for the success of the College. ‘True authority comes from character,’ she explained. ‘In challenging times Roger needs to inspire the new generation of leaders to take risks and to be adventurous for God.’

Roger described leading the college as a ‘humbling privilege’. ‘Spurgeon’s has been a brilliant place to be over the last six years,' he said. 'We have amazing students, fantastic staff and a tremendous sense of community and common purpose. There are great challenges ahead for the church in the UK over the next generation.  It is a humbling privilege to lead the College as it plays its part in shaping the rising generation who will need to meet those challenges.’

Sarah King, chair of the Governors, added, ‘The governors are delighted to see Roger inducted as Principal of Spurgeon's College. This is the start of what will be a positive and constructive period, as Spurgeon's continues and develops its work of ministerial and church leadership formation and theological education, both for the Baptist movement and the wider church.’
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