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AU News

My AU Summer: CCS Students Take London

September 16, 2019
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Students from the Anderson University College of Christian Studies spent part of their summer touring the United Kingdom.

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Anderson University students stepped into Westminster Abbey on a Sunday morning in July. 

Royal brides have crossed the same doorway in wedding gowns. World-famous men and women rested beneath them in historic graves. Organ music sounded and sunlight blazed through the stained glass as they experienced a culmination of centuries of history on the Abbey’s grounds. 

Westminster Abbey was one of many memorable stops on Anderson University’s study abroad trip to England this summer. The course, titled “Faith in a Post-Christian Age,” explored the religious history of London, Oxford and Cambridge.

“We wanted students to experience both the contemporary culture of the United Kingdom as well as its religious history, and doing those things in view of answering this question: how do we articulate the Christian faith in a world that has, in many ways, moved on from Christianity?” said Dr. Chuck Fuller, a professor of Christian Studies and the Honors Program director who led the trip alongside College of Christian Studies Dean Dr. Michael Duduit.  

Anderson University College of Christian Studies London Study AbroadThe group stayed at Spurgeon’s College in London, where they examined the intersection of theology and culture with Dr. Joshua Searle and Rev. Seidel Boanerges, professors at the college.

“The fact that we could stay in their residence halls for our time there and interact with their faculty added a strong and engaging academic dimension to our time there,” Dr. Fuller said. 

The classroom portion was integral to their understanding of the religious and cultural contexts of England, but much of the trip was experiential. 

“We didn’t want this to merely be a trip where we go sit in classes in another country. We needed to get out and taste the food and see the culture and experience the city and see the countryside,” Dr. Fuller said. 

The group took a bus tour of London, ventured to the Tower of London, enjoyed a picturesque boat ride on the River Thames and watched the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. In addition to worshipping at Westminster Abbey, they heard a sermon from renowned Old Testament scholar Christopher Wright at All Souls Church. 

One of their most notable stops in London was the Buckingham Palace. They unexpectedly entered a significant moment for the British government: Boris Johnson, the new Prime Minister, was meeting with Queen Elizabeth II. The students caught a glimpse of Johnson, and after many students hurried to their next stop with Dr. Duduit, Dr. Fuller lingered at the palace and saw the Queen. 

“We did, admittedly, do lots of ‘touristy’ things, but in the evenings, walking around the streets of the city where William the Conqueror meets Brexit, the atmosphere of London came into view,” said Laura Kelly, a junior Christian Studies student. “London juxtaposes a history shrouded in cathedrals and Reformation martyrs with postmodern thinkers of the 21stcentury, wrapped together with cuisine and culture from nearly every country in Afro-Eurasia.”

Though the group stayed in London, the trip also included day trips to Oxford and Cambridge. 

Dr. Hal Poe of Union University led them on a tour of Oxford. They journeyed to St John’s College, Martyr’s Memorial, River Cherwell and Bodleian Library. They also visited Christ Church College, a set for the Harry Potter films. 

They saw The Eagle and Child, the famous pub where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien and the Inklings pored over literature. The lamp-lit “rabbit room” where the renowned literary group met was the origin of many of the 20thcentury’s classic works. 

Dr. Michael Quicke, the former pastor of St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church and principal of Spurgeon’s College, led the group on a tour of Cambridge. As he guided them through the ancient streets, he combined the religious history with the scientific advances of the city. They visited St. Andrew’s Street Baptist Church, where Charles Spurgeon attended. They toured Emmanuel College, where the early English Reformers met. And they even peered at the tower where Erasmus translated the Bible. 

History was made during their visit to Cambridge. The U.K. experienced one of the hottest weeks on record during their trip, and the highest temperature ever recorded in the U.K. was confirmed in Cambridge on July 29, the day they toured the city. Dr. Fuller lamented that his favorite gelato shop was closed because the gelato was melting, but the South Carolina students took the sweltering 100-degree weather in stride. 

Anna Whitaker, a junior Christian Studies major, said that the excursion to Cambridge was her favorite part of the trip. 

“As we traversed the streets where great warriors of God had gone before, I truly experienced the past in a transformational way,” Whitaker said. “At that moment, I was struck by the circularity of history and the impact the Reformers had on Christianity — these men changed the trajectory of the kingdom of God. Through my time at Anderson, I know I am being equipped to emulate a fraction of this, furthering the Lord’s will by my obedience.”

Dr. Fuller said that travel is a broadening and deepening experience, and college provides a unique time for students to travel. He said that the U.K. is, in some ways, ahead of North America. Studying and experiencing religion and the rise of secularism there offers students a preview of the cultural shifts that may impact the U.S. He believes students walked away with a new perspective on culture and religion. 

“Anderson University has given me the academic understanding and spiritual encouragement I needed to participate in the great orchestration of God’s intentions — the spread of the gospel and the multiplication of disciples,” Whitaker said. 

Now the study abroad group will spend the fall semester reflecting on their experience, studying Dr. Searle’s book “Theology After Christendom” and articulating what they learned.

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