Thursday, February 07, 2013

News from Southampton CU: Students convinced of the need

The Southampton University College Evangelical Union was formed in October 1931 with six members at the suggestion of the president of the Students Union.

Its inception was an answer to the continued prayer of the two or three students who were convinced of the need of such a witness to Christ in the College.

Their mission continues today.

They met to pray and to discuss the formation of the constitution in various rooms (including labs) until they were recognised by the College Union, and allowed the daily use of a lecture room. Having decided that a president was not necessary they elected Mr K.A. Lewis as secretary.

About a fortnight after the foundation of the Union, Dr. Howard Guinness came down for an afternoon, to encourage and give them suggestions as to how to carry on.

They continued daily Prayer Meetings and started weekly Bible Readings, taking the Epistle to the Romans as their subject.

The first public effort was made in March, when Coffee Squashes were held in both men's and women's halls, with Dr. B.F.C. Atkinson and Miss J.B.Strain as the speakers. As a result, the Union was made more widely known, some were brought to Christ and membership increased.

The session, 1932-33, was begun with a Freshers's Squash, when Mr. T.B.L.Bryan addressed about a hundred freshers, who constituted two thirds of the incoming students. He presented the aims of the Union - to unite in a Fellowship those who already knew Christ and to witness to the College to the power of His gospel. He then gave the simple message of Christ and Him crucified, and throughout the meeting the presence of the Holy Spirit was greatly felt.

Miss A. Blakely took on the leadership for the year, and Prayer Meetings and Bible Readings were continued with an additional missionary study circle started by a fresher (Miss Donald). For some time the possibility of having a UCCF preacher at the College Sunday Service had been considered. At the suggestion of Miss Blakely, the Professor of Education who arranges the services invited Mr Kenneth Hooker to come down for a weekend in the Easter term.

Having preached a very helpful sermon in the morning, he addressed a men's meeting in one of the halls in the evening. The number of men in the Union up to this time was less than that of the women, and more witnesses in the men's halls were greatly needed.

During the Easter vacation three representatives were sent to the UCCF conference at High Leigh, whereas in the preceding year there was only one. Not only those who were present, but all the members found that High Leigh was a great help and strength to the Union.

At the beginning of the summer term, Mr Hooker again visited Southampton, this time with Miss Strain. Squashes were arranged for men and women, and a joint Lunch Hour Meeting, which was well attended. Although there was no increase in numbers as a result, yet it is certain that God will show the fruit of those meetings in His own good time.

A meeting particularly arranged for those graduating was the last special effort of the year, when the claims of Christ were brought once again before those leaving the College.

The guidance of this small Union during its short existence and its recent increase in numbers are reason for great thankfulness. The attendance at prayer meetings has grown from sometimes as few as two to fourteen.

A special branch of activities has been a missionary prayer meeting held in the Women's Hall on Sunday afternoons, when letters have been read from works in the field. These are sent from the headquarters of the Action Biblique in Geneva, by the suggestion of Mary Cutmore, one of the founders of the Union, who has since leaving College, attended a course at this Bible School in preparation for missionary work.

Secretaries: K. A. Lewis (1931-32), Miss A. Blakely (1932-33), Miss M.E. Donald (1933-34). From Christ and the Colleges, Donald Coggan (1934). Current Southampton CU Secretary Henry Pearson shares the original CU minutes pages from 1931, the source of Miss Donald's 1934 report no doubt.

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