Whilst the Christian Academic Network (C-A-N.- was formally created at our 2003 conference) it is not something totally new – but rather the next step in an evolutionary process.
UCCF has been active in Christian witness within the UK in Universities and Colleges for over 75 years. Since 1968 Agapé have also been working in this same mission field. And both organisations are now jointly sponsoring the creation of this C-A-N-
UCCF have, for many years now, had a number of professional groups. The ‘Association of Christians In Higher Education’ group (ACHE) was one devoted, as its name implies, to Christian witness in Universities and Colleges. In recent years it has become conscious of a need to grow and develop the ACHE ministry.
More recently Agapé identified a need to extend their ministry in the UK beyond the student body into the wider academic community. In the USA Agapé have a well developed ministry to the wider academic community (Christian Leadership Ministries), so they invited some of its members to visit the UK in May 2001 to carry out some research amongst Christians working in academia. The team sought answers to three questions:
What is it like to work on campus in the UK?
What daily struggles to Christian staff face?
What resources do they wish for?
Both prior and subsequent to this research Agapé kept UCCF fully informed of what was being done. This started a process of the two organisations praying, thinking and working together. It soon became evident that by combining the strengths of UCCF’s experience in the UK with ACHE and Agapé’s experience and contacts, especially in the US, God was giving a fresh vision for a combined ministry to the wider academic community.
A conference was convened in October 2001, and it was so successful another was organised in November 2002. The vision was shared informally and received with enthusiasm. This encouraged both UCCF and Agapé to press ahead with calling a third conference in November 2003 along similar lines to the previous two, but to make it a launch pad for a jointly sponsored venture in the UK – the “Christian Academic Network”.
Preparatory work was undertaken to develop a constitution which would enable the vision to become a reality. They have also been jointly praying for God to raise up a Leadership Team, to be in place by the end of the conference, to take up the vision and further bring it into reality.
So this is where history past ends – and C-A-N- is moving forward into history making. Its purpose is clear, its constitution is determined, you are now invited to join in this serving network (see the ‘join us’ section) and if we can help serve one another by enabling us to be a more confident, courageous and better equipped Christians working in the academic community, then we will have met our aim. That is what C-A-N- is here for.