I was at Coulsdon College last Thursday for the Topping Out Ceremony to mark the end of structural phase of the new building and the transition to the finishing stage. Representatives of the contractors, Willmott and Dixon, were there with staff members from the College and other community representatives. As I arrived the College Principal asked me if I'd say a few words and give a blessing after the explanation of the Topping Out Ceremony. It turns out the Topping Out is a very ancient practice in the building trade and is based on the invocation of tree spirits and fertility spirits in order to bring good luck. I wasn't sure to how follow that up, but I did speak about the place of the College in the life of Coulsdon, and the links that the church has been able to encourage through the celebration of our 750th anniversary.
We have been collecting Good News stories around the parish, and I was able to say that the College is a good news story for Old Coulsdon through its work in the formation of young people.
Afterwards, over a cup of tea, one of the staff asked me to come and speak to some of the students about faith issues. This is just the opportunity we have been waiting for in the church, and I thank God that when the time is right the opportunities present themselves.
It's such a privilege to make contact with groups in the community on behalf of the church, and to have the authority to bless what is good.
The new college buildings are fantastic, by the way, and you can see what they will look like by clicking on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FP_SFbKK9Yk&feature=player_embedded