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Sarum College Uses The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition to Ignite the Spiritual Imagination in the Classroom and Beyond

On November 5th, 2023, one of 299 Heritage Edition volumes of The Saint John’s Bible found a home in Sarum College on the first stop of the 25th Anniversary Dedication Tour. Now, the Bible lives and breathes inspiration into the academic institution..

Posted April 15, 2024 in Religious Institutions

Salisbury, England — At Sarum College, a theological college with Renaissance-era ancestry located in Salisbury, England, the Written Word of God stands at the center of academic life and the college’s mission to nourish the human spirit. So, naturally, when the news came that a Heritage Edition set of The Saint John’s Bible would be gifted to Sarum College as part of The Saint John’s Bible 25th Anniversary Dedication Tour across England, the College welcomed the gift with open arms.

The gift of this Heritage Edition set was made possible by the generosity of Bruce and Elaine Culver.

The Heritage Edition arrived at Sarum College during the first stop of the 25th Anniversary Tour, a week-long pilgrimage that celebrated the 25th year since the commissioning of The Saint John’s Bible. During the pilgrimage, more than 50 creators and supporters of The Saint John’s Bible traversed the United Kingdom to reach some of the most renowned religious institutions and gift an edition of The Saint John’s Bible to each. Click here to read more about the dedication tour and the ceremony at Sarum College.

Sarum College is located within Salisbury Cathedral Close, which is believed to have been designed by renowned architect Christopher Wren in the early 17th century. Established in 1995, Sarum College paves the way for 70 men and women to become authorized lay ministers and ordained ministers in the Anglican Church each year. The College also offers a range of day courses especially in the study of Scripture and has more than 120 students studying theology at Masters and Doctoral level.

The arrival of the Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible ignited a full day of celebration from those at Sarum College and those who traveled the distance to be there for the occasion.

“It was a memorable day of blessings, celebration, and feasting with one another. It was wonderful to see the Heritage Edition placed at the front of the high altar, with people gathered around it, clearly enthralled and fascinated by the text,” said Woodward. “We all felt a tremendous sense of being blessed and enriched by the generosity of the community and the project of The Saint John’s Bible. This connection to the text and the volumes is our greatest gift.”

The Heritage Edition volumes are processed in Salisbury Cathedral in celebration and blessing of the volumes to Sarum College.

As the only educational institution that was gifted a Heritage Edition set on the tour, the life that the volumes will live on campus at Sarum College is quite unique. Not only will the Bible serve as a means of reflection and spiritual exploration, but it also will inspire deep academic insights into the Word of God.

“The gift of the Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible has had a profound effect on our learners and their work in theological exploration,” said The Revd. Canon Dr. James Woodward, principal of Sarum College. “The Heritage Edition aligns very neatly with our commitment to employing the Bible for the nature of spiritual learning and the flourishing of human life. We are made to smile, grow, and flourish in God’s love, and these concepts are beautifully captured in the dedicated craftsmanship of The Saint John’s Bible.”

Spreading the goodness of the Bible throughout community spaces and encouraging neighborly connection and conversation stands at the forefront of Sarum College’s values. In the few months since welcoming the Bible to campus, a number of events have already been held to offer the public the opportunity to view and interact with the Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible. More events are forthcoming, including three upcoming Open Days, from April 25 to April 28, for members of the public to experience the work of sacred art.

The Saint John’s Bible Creation Illumination can be found in the Pentateuch volume of the work.

“The public came to hear about the story of The Saint John’s Bible, but they also came to experience and interact with the text. We told them, ‘Touch the Bible, turn its pages, look at this beautiful gift of ours to share,’” said Woodward. “The text enlivens our human flourishing by showing us what creation and redemption really look like. We want to show people how to read it, how to use it, how to pray with it, how to be inspired by it.”

Honoring Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Prior to his current position as Principal of Sarum College, Rev. Canon Dr. Woodward was Canon of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, the royal residence in Windsor, England. During his time at the Castle, “It was a privilege to be part of the work of sustaining welcome and prayer in the Chapel,” said Woodward. “Our contact with Her Late Majesty was always life giving.” To this day, Woodward carefully treasures the many handwritten letters addressed to him from Her Majesty the Queen.

The Saint John’s Bible has been largely touched by the legacy of Her Majesty the Queen. Creative Director of the project, Donald Jackson, is the former Senior Scribe and Illuminator at the Crown Office in the House of Lords. Additionally, Lambeth Palace’s recently gifted Apostles Edition of The Saint John’s Bible was dedicated in her honor and memory. Given the ways that Her Majesty has inspired The Saint John’s Bible project, the Heritage Program wishes to honor her legacy with the words of The Revd. Canon Professor Woodward as we approach what would have been her 98th birthday on April 21st, 2024.

“I worked at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle for seven years and had the great privilege of supporting the spiritual life of the chapel and spending time with Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It was remarkable – she left an incredible impression on everyone she encountered,” said Woodward. “Her unending good heartedness was obvious to everyone who knew her. Her deep, abiding faith in Christ was admirable. We miss her dearly, and we bless her always.”

The Practice of Human Flourishing in the Classroom and Out

Sarum College plans to place the Heritage Edition volumes at the heart of the college, beside the grand staircase that centers the main body of the building, a decision that places the college’s dedication to theological education at the forefront of the space.

“We want the Heritage Edition volumes to be the first thing people see when they walk into our building,” said Woodward. “The Saint John’s Bible is a visual reminder of the centrality of place that is Christian learning at Sarum College.”

The presence of the Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible at Sarum College excites great spiritual imagination among its students. During intentional Christian theological teaching, the Heritage Edition volumes are brought to the classroom to aid in undergraduate and postgraduate study.

Seekers experience The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition at Salisbury Cathedral during the Blessing of the Volumes gifted to Sarum College in November 2023.

“When we read the Bible together, we have each Heritage Edition passage open so students can view the illuminations that have been captured and set out on the pages,” said Woodward. “We ask them to look at the Bible as we start our day and wonder about what is giving them delight and bringing them to life.”

The Heritage Edition places a special emphasis on illumination and artful expression, incorporating images and motifs that draw people in and facilitate powerful experiences. Illustrations run through each part of the Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible, filling the pages with animals, colors, and depictions of the Written Word. These creations of art bring Scripture to life by placing the Word in the context of modern times.

“Very little prepared me for my first encounter with the physical text of the Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible,” said Woodward. “I’ve been reading and writing books for 40 years, but no matter how The Saint John’s Bible was described, nothing could quite encapsulate my first experience with the pages of this illuminated manuscript. There is much to be admired of the faith and passion of those who sought to share the Written Word in a way that would bring its spirit alive.”

The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition: Facilitating Faith-Based Learning

To learn more about The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition, visit this page.

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