Friday, February 01, 2013

News from Sheffield CU: God's quiet work

The origins of Sheffield University Evangelical Union provide yet another illustration of the marvellous workings of our God.

His instruments for the founding of the E.U. were remarkably brought together in such a quiet, unostentatious way that the Union, as it were, just happened, and yet there was not the least doubt in anyone's mind that the power of God was behind it.

A Methodist minister who was taking a degree course at the University, a Church of England vicar of the city, a University lecturer, a doctor of medicine, and two students, one at the end of his third year and the other at the end of his first, united in this venture.

Neither of the students knew each other before June, 1932, but God had been working beforehand and the way was prepared. Both had been led to pray for an E.U. in Sheffield some time before. Then at the beginning of 1932, the third year student met the Rev J.I. Brice of Cliff College, Calver, in the Varsity, and spoke to him about the possibility of an E.U. As both were very busy working for exams, it was arranged that, if another should be brought into touch with them who was also eager for an E.U. it should be taken as a sign that something definite must be done.

Two terms passed, exams came and went, and then the two students were introduced at a Bible Class in the city. Incidentally, it was not by any means a regular occurrence for either to attend the Bible Class. Again, some time elapsed and the second of the two students met a Christian doctor and a lecturer from the University in Fulwood vicarage. They were both found to be eager to see the formulation of an E.U.

It was learned that Dr. Howard Guinness proposed to visit Sheffield to investigate what could be done for Christ in the University. Subsequently events moved quickly. The two students met frequently for prayer. They opened communication with one keen lecturer whom they knew. They met several times in her house,  where Mr Brice joined them, and there all the plans were made, in conjunction with their Unseen Leader, to arrange a meeting for Dr. Guinness.

Eventually in November, Dr. Guinness arrived, and held a small squash in the Men's Club and a larger open meeting in the Varsity. He did not stay in the city two full days but left behind him an E.U. ten strong.

From then onwards, the S.U.E.U. experimented. The first year was spent almost entirely in consolidation. There were still ten members at the end of the year, June 1933, and the Union had been officially recognised and had been promised a room exclusively for the E.U. on the Varsity premises.

The first birthday, November 10th, marked a great decision. Hitherto little had been done with regard to corporate witness, and it was then decided that this must be rectified. The first men's squash was held on November 24th. Although the number of outsiders present was small there is reason to believe that a beginning was made which will issue in great things being done for God.

Report from CU President, J.S. Turner (1933-34) in Christ and the Colleges (Donald Coggan, 1934)

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