I’m on placement this year at Hild Bede College, Durham University, with the chaplain, Tim Ferguson. This is the first of four short blog posts telling you what I’m up to, and why (2, 3, 4).

The college chapel has a fine acoustic, and is a ‘rare example of art deco architecture’. Here’s what it looks like on the inside:

Hild Bede Chapel

Around half of my time on placement is spent in chapel – at communion on Sunday mornings, or at choral evensong on Wednesday evenings. (More about those before long.) But a lot of my time is spent here:

Hild Bede Brunch

Why is the eating of baked beans such an important part of a chaplain’s ministry?

One of the things that attracted me (back) to the Church of England was its sense of rootedness. The Church of England is rooted in the Bible, in the church down the ages, in the church around the world, and in English culture and society. It is difficult to go anywhere in England without being reminded of that. This resonates strongly with the good news of a God whose ultimate purpose is not to whisk us away to some ethereal paradise, but to make his home among us, here on the earth.

Chaplaincy serves as a visible reminder of the presence of God in every area of life. For the Christian students, the chaplain’s presence reminds them that their studies and their social lives are all part of their discipleship. Meanwhile, for the non-Christian students, the chaplain’s presence might point them to the God who came near to us in Jesus Christ.

Eating with students – whether after chapel, or at other times of the week – helps to build relationships that can provide a context for people to encounter the love of God.