Oak Hill Theological College is one of the colleges which trains people for ministry in the Church of England. We recently received this postcard from a visitor to the college:
There is, seemingly, a distinct christian tradition of hospitality and welcome for friend and for stranger. Its the kind of generally unquestioning generosity shown by Abraham, by Mary and Martha and by countless Christians throughout the ages. When travels took me to Oak Hill theological college in Southgate therefore, I felt sure of a warm and hospitable welcome. Walking through lovely and neatly ordered grounds to the main building, alas, I was surprised by that which followed.
After numerous comments to myself and my (male) colleague, that “guys and girls do not sleep on the same floor here,” we were shown to rather ‘retro’ (read neglected) rooms, in the dark shabby corridors of a hollow feeling concrete box. Before our host made a sharp exit, we enquired what time breakfast would be available, “Oh, I’m not sure what happens about that. There’ll probably some of the guys on your corridor who might give you something from their fridge….” No living thing (apart from some gruesome football boots) was seen in any corridor throughout the duration of our stay. There was no breakfast. After my companion and I said mattins in the cold, cluttered and fusty smelling chapel, the Lord guided us to the warm hospitality of Wetherspoons.
Sadly, Oak Hill was probably one of the most inhospitable feeling places I have ever stayed. A place where daily the bible is studied, where there is prayer and worship, men and women training for ministry in God’s church yet little care for the stranger in their midst. A thought for us all.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that, some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)