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Speer Road Church

(United Reformed Church)

Thames Ditton

The Last Word

Last word – February 2020

On Monday January 20 th I went to the Festival Hall for the graduation ceremony of the Revd Dr Sukin Lee the Korean Minister who works in New Malden and Kingston. SukIn has been studying for a doctorate looking at the experience of North Koreans after they have escaped from North Korea and come to this country. It has taken a number of years to complete his PhD so Monday was a very special day.

If you have been to a graduation ceremony you will know that it is a grand occasion with the students wearing gowns, in this case each with coloured trimming depending on what they have been studying. There is an army of photographers to capture the graduates dressed up and then over a two hour period they walk across the stage in single file to shake the Chancellors hand and receive a scroll. SukIn had been studying at Kings College London and some 4000 students were listed in the programme who would go through this process over five days of ceremonies. Quite an operation to make sure the right name is read out at the appropriate time!

Kings College was founded in 1828-29 as a Church of England alternative to University College which had been labelled “the godless college in Gower Street!” It is interesting to think back how the church played such a role in Education in this Country and still has an influence today, though I did wonder how many of the students walking across the stage had any idea about the college’s foundation. The students came from all over the world and while it still has Church connections, I did wonder what its founders would make of the College today!


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