The 1960s

1961

The Fortieth Anniverary of the foundation was celebrated on 5 May 1961. A Lecture was delivered by the Revd Dr Henry Chadwick, Canon of Christ Church and Regius Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford. The subject of the lecture was "The Spirit and Forms of Liberal Theology". The Chairman of the Governors, the Revd Walter J Noble presided. Among those present was the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor H Butterfield, Master of Peterhouse (himself a Methodist and a Governor of Wesley House). In the evening Dinner was served in Hall to a number of University and other guests.

(WF Flemington writes: At previous Commemorations the students had taken their meal earlier and only the college Chairman had been invited to join the guests at Dinner, at which dinner-jackets were worn. In 1961, however, all resident students shared in the Dinner, and lounge-suits were worn.)

The appointment of Michael Skinner to the Tutorship in Systematic and Pastoral Theology was significant - in Michael's own words:

 

'I had no pretensions of being academically front line. I had never envisaged doing this kind of thing. I was very happy being a Circuit Minister despite its frustrations, it's what I imagined I was going to do with the rest of my life. And it was just because I was reasonably competent to teach and the fact that I was in love with the local church as it were, at a time when other people weren't. I'd seen this happen in other colleges and I had heartily approved of this - that at least one person on the staff should be someone with experience of Circuit work and someone who was in love with it, after all, you're going to train most of your people for this ministry.'

 

Society was changing rapidly. New questions were being asked, old roles challenged, and in education new models were developing. In terms of ministerial training careful consideration was being given to the study of pastoral work and to the development of an inner spiritual life that would sustain a lifetime in ministry.

 

Austerity and the counting of every penny was still of utmost importance at Wesley House and Flemington took on a lot of this himself. He did much of the college accounting and book-keeping himself and went around the college emptying the gas meters three times a year. A student arriving in 1964 found the black-out curtains from the war still up in the bedrooms. 

 

In 1963 John Robinson, a member of the Divinity School, published 'Honest to God' a radical and revolutionary work which mirrored many of the questions being asked in other departments across the university and in other areas of life. This ferment of ideas found a resistance to change in Wesley House - its teaching and life. There was a growing sense that the world had moved on and Wesley House had not moved with it. 

 

In the summer of 1968 Flemington retired having been a member of staff at Wesley House for 30 years.

 

The new Principal was someone who had extensive experience of the college, was a scholar with an international reputation and had already proved himself to be a firm favourite with the students, Gordon Rupp. It was quite clear to him that immediate changes needed to be made within Wesley House in its day to day routine and ethos, in the training that was provided and in the fabric of the college buildings themselves. The 1970s were to be a period of significant change.

Eyewitness

WF Flemington

Wesley House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge, CB5 8BJ

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