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Ministers of Word and Sacrament and Church Related Community Workers

Education for

Ministry Phase 1

Resource Centres for Learning United Reformed Church May 2013

Throughout this document the word ‘minister’ is used to identify those in the Ministry of Word and Sacraments and Church Related Community Workers (CRCWs)





The Choice of a Resource Centre for Learning for Education for Ministry Phase 1 (EM1)


Preparing for the Ministry of Word and Sacraments or Church Related Community Work


EM1 through Resource Centres for Learning

Northern College, Manchester

Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College, Glasgow


Westminster College, Cambridge


Training for Ministry





The Choice of a Resource Centre for Learning for Education for Ministry Phase 1 (EM1)


The United Reformed Church uses three Resource Centres for Learning for the education and training of student ministers before ordination as a Minister of Word and Sacraments. These are Northern College based in Manchester, Scottish College based in Glasgow and Westminster College based in Cambridge. Northern College has responsibility for the training of Church Related Community Workers prior to commissioning. Becoming a minister is a process of testing God’s Call, which is continued through the process of education for ministry. Preparing for ministry is a careful combination of gaining practical experience, pursuing academic qualifications and engaging in spiritual growth. For Ministers of Word and Sacraments the choice of which centre is right for which student remains critical. Consideration of the candidate’s vocational needs and circumstances is very important.


In addition to being available on the URC website, this booklet is sent to all candidates just before attending the Assembly Assessment Conference. A candidate may contact or visit any of the three Colleges before or after the Assessment Conference.


The United Reformed Church will only finance the training of candidates who have been accepted for training for ministry by the Assembly Assessment Board. A separate booklet is available which explains the financial support available during EM1.

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An adviser is offered through EMLOMA (Ethnic Minority Lay and Ordained Ministers Association) for any candidate or EM1 student who would like to discuss the processes they are undergoing with particular reference to Black and Minority Ethnic concerns. The current adviser (from September 2012) is Revd Malachie Munyaneza, who is currently the Convenor of EMLOMA. The adviser works in consultation with the Secretary for Racial Justice and Multi-cultural Ministry.


At the Assessment Conference, an Education and Learning Board meets each candidate to discuss potential training routes, and to make the final decision on that training. The minimum requirements to complete training are set out below at 2. It is important to note that the Board will reflect on each candidate and decide what training for them will best contribute towards providing a well-equipped ministry for the Church whilst also taking the needs of the student into account. To those ends the Board will have in mind the vocational needs and the circumstances of candidates as well as the distinctive elements of the Resource Centres.


Factors to be taken into account would include: a) The Resource Centre milieu which will best enable the student to develop personally and spiritually. b) Any family or financial restrictions for the type or location of residence during training. c) The programme of study most suitable. d) The size and balance of the student body at any particular time. A subsequent change of Resource Centre at the request of the candidate will only be recommended if good reasons can be clearly stated to all concerned. The Education and Learning Committee will consult with the Assessment Board, the Synod and the Resource Centre concerned.

Training for Ministry



The final decision is without prejudice to the admission procedures of the Resource Centre.


In the event of the Assessment Board accepting a candidate for training the candidate will be invited to a meeting with the recommended Resource Centre to confirm the detailed programme of study to be undertaken.


Training for the Ministry of Word and Sacraments or Church Related Community Work In order to obtain the minimum requirement for ordination, candidates are required to undertake: a) The satisfactory completion of an Introductory Course with a synod tutor including attendance at the ‘Our Church, United Reformed Church Ethos and History’ weekend; b) A programme of study through one of the Resource Centres for Learning which could be in full- or parttime mode but which ensures that students have reached a minimum of a Diploma of Higher Education or a Foundation Degree in Theology. c) Undertaken the equivalent of an 800 hour supervised and assessed placement. Students are also expected to attend at least one URC Summer School held at the Windermere Centre during their period of EM1, and every student is encouraged by their Resource Centre for Learning to take advantage of opportunities to experience the world church at first hand. The normal period of study is 4 years, either part-time or full-time. This may be varied depending on the previous theological education of individuals, or their potential to benefit from further studies. For many of those available to study full-time, their EM1 programme will include theological degree at bachelor level. For those over 30 with the necessary academic background and Christian experience a full-time course might be taken in three years.

Training for Ministry


Work towards a Master’s degree might be possible for those with a first degree in theology. Sometimes it is possible for a student to carry work forward from the initial training period and complete it after starting ministry, for example topping up diploma – level study to achieve a bachelor’s degree, or finishing off a dissertation. However this is not always a good idea. The early years of ministry can be fiercely busy, and the United Reformed Church has its own learning programmes (EM2 – see below) for supporting new ministers. Any work that runs on from EM1 would need to be discussed carefully with the relevant officer of the Education and Learning Committee and with the Training Officer of the receiving synod, for the synod is responsible for the new minister’s programme of learning. d)

After ordination/commissioning ministers will: i)

proceed into Education for Ministry Phase 2 for an intentional programme of learning in the context of their first (normally) three years of service; and ii) undertake appropriate subsequent training as Education for Ministry phase 3 throughout their ministry. For further information about training for ministry in the United Reformed Church, please contact the Secretary for Education and Learning, The United Reformed Church, 86 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9RT. phone: 020 7916 8635 email:

Training for Ministry


Northern College (United Reformed and Congregational), Manchester If you are preparing for a Ministry of Word and Sacraments (either stipendiary or non-stipendiary) or for a ministry in Church Related Community Work within the United Reformed Church, Northern College would be delighted to welcome you to share in our learning community. We offer a range of full-time and parttime study options from which we would seek to tailor your course to best suit your learning needs, and take into account your prior learning and experience, whilst meeting the requirements of the United Reformed Church. Our courses – working towards a diploma or degree in Contextual Theology – are taught alongside a programme of church and community placements developed in consultation with you and your synod in settings close to your own home. These practical experience placements form the basis for context-

Training for Ministry


based reflection and assignments, allowing a creative interaction between the theoretical and practical aspects of preparation for ministry. Course assessment is entirely by written assignments and class presentations. Wherever possible, course assessment tasks are designed to explore how your developing theological understanding relates to your practical experiences on placement and in life as a whole. Inter-disciplinary work and creativity (such as art and poetry) is encouraged where appropriate. In addition, all courses have a strong international dimension, with learning from the world church and other world faiths having a significant place in the curriculum. Many of our students spend some time (usually four to six weeks) experiencing church life in a setting outside the UK as part of their programme. Also, our weekday classes in Luther King House regularly include students from a rich variety of cultural and theological backgrounds from across the world church.

Tell me about Northern College Northern College was formed by the union of a number of historic, independent Congregational colleges. Today, we continue to serve the learning needs of the United Reformed Church and the Congregational Federation and also welcome students from the Moravian Church. We’re based at Luther King House in the leafy southern suburbs of Manchester yet we’re only a short walk from the fabled ‘curry mile’ restaurant district in Rusholme. In Luther King House we live and work in close cooperation with Northern Baptist Learning Centre, Hartley Victoria Methodist College, Unitarian College Manchester, Luther King House Open College and the research programme of the Urban Theology Unit. Between us, we share an excellent theological library and run a range of degree programmes in contextual theology and church-based community work validated by the University of Manchester.

Training for Ministry


What courses might I take? Diploma in Contextual Theology For church ministry students without previous universitylevel qualifications in theology, we offer a University of Manchester Diploma in Contextual Theology. This is taught by the in-house partners in Luther King House in a midweek format and also in a part-time weekend format. It normally takes four years part-time study or two to three years within a full-time URC study programme. The award is made at Higher Education level five and meets the requirements of the United Reformed Church for candidates for ordination. The Manchester Diploma course covers the following areas:

• • • • • • • • • •

Learning Theologically Together Encountering and Responding to Christ Biblical studies Worship, Preaching and Pastoral Care Mission Theologies and Ethical Thinking in Context Churches in Society Service and Leadership Understanding our Tradition Community work practice and development

There is also an option within the full-time programme to do an introductory study of Biblical Languages. BA – Bachelor of Arts (with Honours) in CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY Full-time church ministry students may wish to continue beyond Diploma level to honours degree level and complete a University of Manchester BA – Bachelor of Arts Degree in CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY. This can easily be accommodated within a four year full-time programme.

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On the BA course options include the following study areas:

• • • • • • • • • •

Christian Homiletics Old Testament Texts New Testament Texts Conflict Transformation for Churches Philosophy, Politics and Ethics Encountering Islam Modern Theologies Theology and Artists Research Methods A personal dissertation on a relevant topic

MA – Master of Arts in CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY For full-time or part-time church ministry students who already have a degree in Theology, or achieve good results in their first two years of full-time study, it may be possible to progress to study for a University of Manchester MA – Master of Arts Degree in CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY, also taught by the staff team here at Luther King House. The Manchester MA course offers the following possible study areas:

• • • • • • • • • • • • • Training for Ministry

Methods/resources in contextual theology Worship, hymns and liturgy Feminist perspectives on church and ministry Researching issues in urban theology The Bible in a post-modern context Enquiry-based learning module Spirituality Encountering Other Faiths Theologies of Mission The Ecumenical Movement Mission History Paul’s Gospel in Rome Reading the Bible Ecologically


CRCW students Community work ministry students (intending to be CRCWs), normally follow a specially-devised four year full-time pathway with both Theology and Community Work modules. It is possible to qualify with a Diploma or BA in CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY from the University of Manchester. The community work pathway through these programmes is recognised as a professional qualification in Community Development Work by the England Standards Board for Community Development Education, as well as being the required qualification for URC Church Related Community Workers. The Community work ministry course has been revised during the course of the year to produce more integration between the Community Work and the Theology and Biblical Studies. Students of this course will take modules that will include:

• • • • • • •

Introducing Reflective Practice Enabling Inclusion Communication in Text and Community The Value and Values of Community Work Urban Theology Facilitating Participation Public Theology and Cultural Engagement

Research Degrees The ecumenical staff team at Luther King House is also able to supervise students undertaking research for University of Manchester M Phil or Ph D degrees, should that provide you with a helpful and appropriate component of either initial or continuing ministerial education.

Training for Ministry


What will my time in college look like? If you are studying full-time A typical week for a full-time student would involve working for somewhere between 8 and 16 hours a week on church and community placements, normally near your home, and then to come into college on two of the first three working days of the week during teaching terms for classes, college time, tutorials, and shared worship. The Manchester MA classes are on Mondays; there are shared college courses for everyone on Tuesdays; and the level 6 programme is taught on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the level 4 and 5 (midweek) programme is taught on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Some modules involve block teaching when classes are held over for three or four consecutive days. Students who live more than 25 miles from the college are able to book overnight accommodation in Luther King House in single rooms with en suite facilities. This may be for one night a week, or possibly two depending on class times and the distance from home to college. Typically, most of your private study will be done in your own home, though there are good facilities in the library at Luther King House for those who prefer to work there and you will need to take some time to gather resources for study from the library when you are present in Manchester (although more and more key resources will be available on-line and books can be forwarded to you by post – the library catalogue is also available on line). If you are studying part-time United Reformed Church ordinands studying part-time take the Luther King House weekend programme leading to a University of Manchester Diploma in Contextual Theology. The course lasts for four years, and each year is timetabled to involve six residential weekends for faceto-face in-class learning.

Training for Ministry


You will do much of your work at home, and your course, like that for fulltime students, is centred around placements that will be arranged somewhere in your home area. You will need to be available to come to Luther King House in Manchester for the six designated weekends a year. Those travelling from a distance can arrive in Manchester on Friday evening, but weekend teaching begins at 9.00am on Saturday and ends at 5.00pm on Sunday.

What will my time on placement look like? Church ministry students (both full-time and part-time) normally have three placements: In the first year, a placement in a church of another denomination; in the second year a ‘secular’ placement such as a chaplaincy; and over years three and four a ‘major’ placement in a URC. The activities and responsibilities experienced during these church placements are individually negotiated between the student, the placement supervisor and the college tutor, to best fit the students learning needs and the opportunities offered by the placement setting. These church placements are expected to be for a minimum of 8 hours per week for full-time students in their first two years and a minimum of 12 hours per week during their major placement. Part time students are expected to accumulate a minimum of 800 hours on placement during their four years of preparation for ministry. Alongside these church placements, full-time students are asked to develop a related community placement (perhaps in a school, or with a community group or in some community chaplaincy), usually somewhere close to their church placement. The hours for these placements are included in the hours set out above. Full-time church ministry students are also encouraged to include an overseas placement of a few weeks duration and to spend at least six weeks offering ministry in a vacant URC pastorate in the UK – usually during the Training for Ministry


summer at the end of either their first or second year of preparation for ministry. Those preparing for a community work ministry (CRCW) will normally have two placements, each of two years duration. For more information, see the paragraph below.

What about Church Related Community Work? If you are preparing for a Ministry in Church Related Community Work, you will normally be studying fulltime, but your course will be organised rather differently from that for full-time church ministry students. You will be based in a substantial community work placement near your home, wherever that may be within England, Scotland or Wales. During your four-year course you will normally have two such placements, each lasting for two years. At least one of these will normally be in a churchrelated context. Your taught course work each year will be based around five or six blocks of four or five consecutive study days. Five of these blocks will include attending study weekends alongside part-time church ministry students to study the theology modules in your course. The theology weekends and all the community work modules are taught at Luther King House in Manchester. Your course is likely to take four years of full-time study, and your course work will be split roughly one third / two thirds between purely theological modules and modules that integrate community work studies with theology and biblical studies. The URC requires those preparing for a CRCW ministry to obtain the University of Manchester Diploma studying modules set out for the CRCW programme. It is possible for CRCW students to continue to university level 6 and obtain the Manchester BA or to level 7 for the MA in Contextual Theology within the four years of their course. Training for Ministry


Where will I live? Part-time church ministry students only study with us six weekends a year (plus, in a few cases, a summer school of about five days). Full-time church ministry students are only with us for two days a week, for about half the weeks in the year (though again, some may opt to add on a summer school of about five days). Community work students, though studying full-time, normally only study with us for five blocks of four or five days each year and one additional weekend. All of this means that most of those preparing for ministry with us continue to live where they were living before they started their course. To help you see what you might need to do, consider this. It’s entirely possible for part-time church ministry students and community work students to be based almost anywhere in England or Wales during their studies at Northern. Recently, Northern College students have been successfully based as far afield as London, Hull, Hampshire and South Wales whilst studying with us. Full-time ordination students may also continue to live where they lived before they began their course, wherever this allows reasonable weekly travel to Manchester. It has proved quite possible to travel in weekly from such places as Lancashire, Liverpool and the Wirral, West and South Yorkshire, the East and West Midlands and North Wales, even from London. Anyone who lives more than 25 miles from Manchester qualifies for overnight accommodation in Luther King House (single rooms with en suite facilities) for either one or two nights each study week. Other full-time church ministry students have moved to live either in Manchester or nearer Manchester to make the weekly journey manageable. Sometimes they still need overnight accommodation at Luther King House for one or two nights each week. In ALL cases we arrange your church and community placements as near as possible to your home base, wherever that may be. Training for Ministry


This is what three current Northern College students have to say about studying at Northern College: Ruth Watson is studying for Stipendiary Ministry: ‘Being a minister is something I always vowed I’d never do. Having only seen the negative effects of the stress involved. I started training as a Methodist local preacher at 16 and was happy with that. Moving to the URC, marriage and 2 children later I felt a call to ministry that was too strong to refuse. Being accepted for Ministry gave me a high I cannot explain, matched only by the shock of discovering I was pregnant! Deferring my training for a year was frustrating but worth it as the college kept me informed. I have now nearly completed my time at Northern College, am still married, and have 3 beautiful boys. It has been hard as every aspect of my life has been tested and questioned and juggling study and family life has strained every relationship but I wouldn’t be anywhere else for now! I always go back to Ps 121 – “I lift up my eyes to the hills where does my help come from. It comes from the Lord”. Indeed it does – always. Plus there’s always rock music…!’

Vicky Longbone is studying for CRCW ministry: Starting at Northern College meant a lot of life changes for me and my family. I gave up a job I loved, am regularly away from home for days at a time and felt totally out of my depth academically. My first term was particularly difficult. Whilst loving my placement, college was a different matter. Looking at the bible from different perspectives, learning about the establishment of the doctrines and doing ‘theory’ that didn’t seem relevant to my Training for Ministry


call to serve, all left me questioning every aspect of my faith. During this time the support from staff and students at Northern College was amazing. Without this support I know I would have given up, and I am so grateful that didn’t happen! At the start of my second term I realised that whilst everything else was being questioned, my relationship with God was becoming stronger. God’s strength and guidance, the one thing that I can be certain of! I’m loving being at Luther King House now and look forward to a future of studying and serving.

Stephen Best is training for stipendiary ministry, but is working on the part-time weekend programme: One should never say ‘never’. I finally let go of a 25 year unresolved call to ministry when I turned 50, yet three years later I found myself formally candidating – and accepted. Family circumstances and other issues, as well as an awareness that I was not now the sort of person who would easily return to fulltime academic life, meant that I was keen to explore, at least initially, the part time option at Luther King House, and I was particularly impressed by the flexibility to be able to change to full time study at a later stage, should this prove to be the right thing for me. Now that General Assembly has changed the age restrictions, I have also been able to transfer seamlessly to stipendiary training. LKH recognises that mature students have something particular to contribute and I relished the opportunity to bring my artistic and writing skills into a learning environment. Theology may at times be deep, but it is not stuffy. The six contact weekends per year of part time study at LKH are intense, but enjoyable. I undertake the rest of the formation training on placement in my home town. I find this method works really well for me; it has minimised family disruption and keeps me grounded, in that I can relate what I am learning to the real world and also put it into practice. I cannot do everything. I still work part time. I have to prioritise and make choices, but that is a good discipline in itself.   Training for Ministry


I am just coming to the end of my first year and have  forged deep friendships with my fellow students; we look after each other. My home placement this year has been on the Methodist circuit, which has taken me out of my comfort zone and has challenged me, after more than thirty years in my local church, to embrace a wider perspective. It has also been great fun. If I stay part time, then I commit to a total of four years, just for the diploma. But I am gradually letting go of any residual angst about being too old for this and am embracing the path as the goal, rather than looking to the end game. In that way the focus stays on the present and that is where I need to be. At a time when I’m receiving messages from old friends, saying they have had enough and are retiring early, I find myself wide awake on a whole new journey. It’s a great privilege and also rather humbling to find myself able to bring my own unique contribution to this process; and having it affirmed. 

I’d love to take a course, but it would be difficult If there is any aspect of our standard programmes that might make it difficult for you to study with us (e.g. distance / cost of giving up work to study full-time / family commitments) we would be happy to consider with you, your synod and the Education and Learning Board at your Assessment Conference whether there are ways in which we could better adapt the training to your personal circumstances. You could make contact to start considering possible solutions to particular requirements through your Synod Training Officer or directly with Northern College as may be appropriate at any stage of the process. Obviously, any DECISION about such matters would remain the responsibility of the Education and Learning Board that would meet with you at your whole-church Assessment Conference and would be taken in the light of the most appropriate learning possibilities on offer Training for Ministry


from all three URC Resource Centres for Learning that offer programmes for Education for Ministry, part one (EM1) as well as other factors, as indicated elsewhere in this booklet.

For more information, or to arrange an exploratory visit with us in Manchester, please contact: Revd Dr Rosalind Selby, Northern College, Luther King House, Brighton Grove, Rusholme, Manchester M14 5JP phone: 0161 249 2506 (college) 0161 249 2530 (Principal) fax: 0161 248 9201 email:

Training for Ministry


Scottish College, Glasgow Scottish United Reformed & Congregational College Our way of developing theological education has distinctiveness in the close connection between the college and the URC synod. Studying with us is to become part of a learning community that is much wider than an ordinand community. Our educational philosophy and practice reflects the best in contemporary education practice with specialist adult education and community work input. We are dedicated to integrating the learning of ordinands with that of the whole people of God – learning together with and from one another. Our commitment to scholarship in theology and biblical studies is matched by a strong interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning – courses draw on history, literature, social sciences and a range of other perspectives and experiences. We combine traditional approaches to scholarship with more radical perspectives on learning.

The main elements of Education for Ministry 1 ‘Scotland-style’ Studying at university We deliver part of our formational programme through partner Schools of Divinity in the Scottish universities, particularly Edinburgh and Glasgow – though we currently have one of our students at Durham University. For others, including part-time students, there is an ecumenical option through the Theological Institute of the Scottish Episcopal Church, serving the three partners in EMU (Episcopal, Methodist and URC).

Training for Ministry


• • • •

Those who come to us without a prior degree generally study for a BD at university or may take an ecumenical course for a diploma in theology for ministry with our Episcopal partners. If you’ve a first degree other than in theology, then it may be for a graduate diploma – a fast-track qualification for graduates taking them to honours degree level in 2 years part-time. Theology graduates often follow a taught MTh or MA in ministry which is designed for people in or preparing for ministry. There are also postgraduate research options in some of the most distinguished universities in the UK. The university divinity schools in Scotland remain important centres of ecumenical theological education. They are of the highest international reputation and draw students from all over the world. Arrangements can be made for study at another university, however, including those in other parts of the UK, if that is a more viable option. We have a proven ability to partner with other higher education providers. As we don’t have to teach for the qualifications of a particular educational partner, a high degree of flexibility in choice in institution and programme is possible.

In the college community The college is at the heart of the formational experience for ordinands. In studying and talking together, in shared regular worship and through bringing placement and other experience back into the college community, we nurture knowledge and understanding, prayer and reflection, skills and imagination – intended not only to prepare you for ministry but to grow personally and spiritually, discovering more and more of that abundant life to which you are called. Our modules are currently studied on Thursdays in Edinburgh and most are open courses when we welcome elders and members of churches, ministers undertaking continuing education and others. The college is a diverse Training for Ministry


group, enabling a rich mutual learning experience. Our integrated approach is intended both to capitalise on that range of experiences and perspectives and to prepare ordinands for being collaborative ministers in the widest sense. We seek to help in the breaking down of barriers between different roles and responsibilities in the life of the church. We are keen, as Edicio dela Torre says, to help “birds learn to swim and fish to fly!” To give you a glimpse of our approach to teaching and learning, here’s an outline of a recent module which addressed a key pastoral area from a range of disciplinary perspectives and sources. BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN A multi-faceted exploration of grief and mourning in contemporary society

• • • • • • •

A minister with experience in the Lockerbie incident and with the World Council of Churches, helped us think through the issues around a major community trauma In ‘If it is for this life only...’, we explored our and others’ understanding of life eternal. Using case studies from pastoral experience, a local URC minister helped us address the challenges of pastoral support and funeral planning today, particularly where the culture is predominantly secular. End and ending of life issues of assisted suicide and living wills were the subject of current debate in society. What values and concerns are in play – and what are Christian perspectives? Appreciative inquiry is proving an important approach to organisational development – drawing strength from positive life-enhancing experience – but does it offer a useful contribution to working through grief? We went to the Lyceum Theatre to watch the play Every One. It explored the lives of an ordinary family – raising children, growing up, growing old. But all of this changed when Death came calling. With a hospice chaplain and medical staff, we learned how End of life care is developed for those in the closing stages of life.

Training for Ministry


On other Thursdays in the past year, we’ve learned about skills in children’s and youth work, contextual Bible study, handling difference in church and society, making sense of experiences, exploring The Trinity... As well as the Thursday teaching programme in college, we encourage ordinands to participate in the wider URC synod of Scotland educational programme and this includes a significant spirituality and retreats dimension. Students themselves also play an important part in the design and delivery of learning and spiritual events for the wider synod community as well as participating in learning events for synod ministers. Our study tours recently have included visits to Orkney, Wales and Denmark. Placements are undertaken throughout EM1 in a variety of settings – local church including ecumenical settings, hospitals and schools, prisons and workplaces. As the URC and its partners move to develop a shared online learning environment, we are working to take full advantage of a mixed economy learning environment. We are very fortunate to have on our staff a colleague who combines an understanding and skill of these things alongside a creative mind! With the distance between the most northerly and the most southerly churches of the Synod of Scotland coming in at nearly 300 miles, we need to take seriously the needs of those who are not on our doorstep. We are in a theological education federation with ecumenical colleagues in the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Methodist Church in Scotland. As well as those URC students formally on the TISEC course, we share as students and staff in their annual summer school.

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Who we are Our college was formed through a concern of early Scottish Congregationalists for an educated ministry and the development of the whole people of God in ministry and mission. Our roots like in radical movements in Scottish political, social and church life. We hope that we continue to exercise that radical ministry, following in and moving on in a tradition that. We believe in education that is rooted in life and for life, that is participative and interactive, that draws on the experience and wisdom of the participants, that is radical in its thinking and in its action. We stand in, affirm and seek to live out a tradition that:

• • • • • • •

believes in developing an educated ministry but within a deepening discipleship of the whole people of God holds that faithful discipleship is rooted in a continual questioning draws on the wisdom in each person and community understands the calling of Christian people to be a calling to live and share the abundant life to which the Gospel testifies recognises the radical nature of the Gospel of Christ is deeply rooted in and related to the life of the Church but stands in critical interaction with the institutional life of the Church seeks to form and grow inclusive community is committed to ecumenical journeying together.

Our strengths Academically and professionally, we have significant interest in such fields as:

• • • Training for Ministry

Fresh approaches to Biblical study Ministry with older people Community work and development and grassroots movements


• • • • • •

Story and narrative approaches in worship and education, pastoral care and organisational growth Interdisciplinary ways of doing theology Church development Adult learning Political and social theology Engagement with civil society in dialogue and in mission.

An important aspect of our college community life is the close connection between the work of the college and the life of the synod and its churches. The college acts effectively as ‘training officer’ for the synod and is the education arm of the synod. As our students prepare for university qualifications in parallel with their college studies, we are able to have a freshness and flexibility that comes with the freedom of not teaching to the regulations and restrictions of a degree programme.

Jake Tatton is studying for the Stipendiary ministry: I started my ministry with the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), where I was ordained in 2006. The MCC has always had strong links with the URC, and it felt like a natural progression to begin the next part of my ministry journey with the URC, after I moved to Helensburgh in 2009. In December of 2010 I was accepted as an ordinand with the URC, and began my studies in the January. As I already held a Bachelor of Divinity (BD), the Scottish College has encouraged me to undertake a Master of Theology (MTh) by research at the University of Glasgow, and I am currently working on a dissertation on Marriage in the Reformed tradition in Scotland. My hope is that this research will prove to be of value to the Synod, as well as the broader conversation within the denomination. Alongside the MTh, all Scottish College students attend weekly classes together, along with other Synod members and adherents. Here we benefit from a broad and challenging syllabus, sensitively designed to complement Training for Ministry


our university studies, engage with our placement experiences and open our minds to ever deeper theological and ecclesiological perspectives. This time not only offers wonderful fellowship, but creates an exciting and demanding base from which to explore ourselves, our callings and the church into which we are committing ourselves. I hope to be ordained into a URC church early next year, and to continue learning and growing with the Scottish College throughout my ministry!

Penelope Smirthwaite is studying for NonStipendiary Ministry: The training I am undertaking through the Scottish College is uniquely tailored to my needs. Without the flexibility of distance learning, the determination of the staff to work around the difficulties of my location, and the skilled piecing together of that training it would not have been possible for me to have considered going forward for ministry. One year on I am aware that many people work extremely hard for my call to NSM to become a reality. Living in the Highlands of Scotland has never been seen as a disadvantage or a problem. I am taking a three year Diploma of Theology with the Scottish Episcopal Church’s initial training course (TISEC) and this is combined with one college day per week with the URC Scottish College. Although my training is described as part-time, in reality placements, travel, residential weekends, summer schools and seminars give it a full time feel and I am grateful that the employment I do is highly flexible. I am the only URC ordinand in the SEC system. They are extremely welcoming and although their Church structure, authority and theology are different from ours, I have found like-minded people with diverse views. I am enjoying the challenges that learning in an ecumenical environment has thrown up and a three Training for Ministry


month placement in a Church of Scotland is giving me a very wide view of what Church is. I feel very cherished and valued by the staff at the URC Scottish College and their support and encouragement has been invaluable. They are keen to put my learning in the ecumenical arena into the context of the URC and with the support of a URC spiritual director I feel that I will come out of this time of formation ready to face the changes in ministry that is affecting all denominations.

The college staff The Revd Dr Jack Dyce has been in ministry for over 30 years. His PhD is in adult education and he previously served as Regional adult education officer in Strathclyde region. His current principal research interest is Scandinavian studies in which he has an MLitt. As principal of the college, he is also training officer for the synod of Scotland. The Revd Fran Ruthven has come to Scotland from the USA where she served with UCC in a range of pastorates, including periods in interim ministry, as well as being a faculty member in several universities. She serves in a Special Category ministry to specialise in ministry with older people including the frail elderly. The Revd John Young retired from the pastoral ministry of the URC. A former convener of the Assembly Doctrine Worship and Prayer committee and a former librarian, he has a particular interest in liturgy and worship and in poetry and literature. The Revd Jan Adamson serves as field officer for local mission and development for the URC synod of Scotland, having trained for ministry after many years in management and is a Fresh Expressions trainer. Mr Stewart Cutler is the Children and Youth development officer for the synod in Scotland and is a trained adult Training for Ministry


educator and youth worker. He has strong interests in fresh expressions in church life and worship. The Revd John Butterfield, in ministry both with the United Reformed Church and the Methodist Church, acts as college chaplain.

But Scotland is so far away... (unless of course you live in Scotland already)

Yes, Scotland is different. It has its own theological traditions, its particular church and ecumenical life, its culture and history, its distinct institutions, greater political devolution and a renaissance in much of its life. We face many of the same challenges as other nations, but we have our own slant on how to address them. It’s an exciting and ever-changing place to be. Some things change less quickly. We enjoy a good quality of life – even our cities are wee! Very close to our urban areas are picturesque and culturally distinctive places and communities.

Contact: Jack Dyce can be contacted on 0141 248 5382 or at

Training for Ministry


Westminster College, Cambridge WESTMINSTER COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE is a resource centre for learning and is here to serve the United Reformed Church. It fulfils this role as part of the Cambridge Theological Federation, an ecumenical community of ten members and associate members, working in partnership for theological education. The Federation works with the University of Cambridge and with Anglia Ruskin University, and will soon be working with the University of Durham too as new arrangements for ecumenical preparation for Christian ministry come to fruition. In recent years there have been about 50 people pursuing academic courses with Westminster – mostly from the United Reformed Church, with a few from other churches and parts of the world, and most, but not all, preparing for ordained ministry. For some years now Westminster has worked with part-time and full-time, distant and resident students, working flexibly according to students’ needs. Many members of the URC also come to Westminster to attend conferences, meetings and events as they deepen faith, learn together and develop their skills for a variety of ministries. Westminster is developing its life and expanding the range and scope of its work. The staff are involved in much work around the churches and in the Synods, and the college welcomes an increasing number of groups, conferences and committees. At the lunch table each day you might find people here on sabbatical, fellow students, a group which has come for a time of reflection, or some lay preachers’ learning together. Westminster’s building is about to undergo a major refurbishment, but the work of the college, both on site and around the churches, continues! We look forward to having a building that will serve our new purpose as a centre for the whole church.

Training for Ministry


Aims and hopes The United Reformed Church is a diverse community, and Westminster is glad to serve all of its members. We believe that any kind of Christian service means being prepared for a future as yet unknown and in a church changing fast, so we seek to equip and prepare people to be resilient and faithful, strongly rooted while confident enough to face the challenge of the new. Westminster provides a strong Christian community, prayer together and sharing life together, as a context in which to prepare for Christian service, while also being engaged in all sorts of ways with the diversity of local churches, with the world church, with the ‘secular’ world and with university courses. Education for ministry has a strong focus on personal development – connecting the experience and insight students have and will gain, with the deepened understanding of the ways of God that reflection and learning can offer. Through a variety of placements the college works to integrate practical experience and theological study. We aim to hold together the insights that come from working with people in church and community with the wisdom gained from reading and from teachers, from seminars and classes, discussions and writing. We take seriously the Church’s calling to mission, to serve God and make Christ known among our neighbours. Theology involves an understanding of human community, and an imaginative vision of God’s varied ways of working in the world.

Training for Ministry


Christian partnership The college is committed to Christian partnership and to deep engagement and dialogue with those of other faiths. Along with Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic and Orthodox colleagues, and with those involved in the study of world Christianity and of inter-faith relations, Westminster belongs to the Cambridge Theological Federation, which links ten institutions, in the city and across the Eastern region. So Westminster is one part of a large, close and strong community. Students can borrow books from the libraries of other institutions and, when in Cambridge, worship in their chapels, and eat in their dining rooms. Most of the teaching is planned and delivered jointly, drawing altogether on the expertise of some 40 theological teachers and serving more than 600 students; many classes are attended by students from around the Federation. Cambridge based members of the Federation meet regularly for worship and to share community life. The ecumenical experience at Westminster, of learning, prayer and hospitality, is a daily reality and is both richly exciting and deeply challenging. We enjoy having the Henry Martyn Centre (which specialises in World Christianity and mission) sharing our site with us, and we are looking forward to the Woolf Institute (which specialises in inter-faith relations) coming onto our site in the near future. Most of the other Cambridge Theological Federation members are also with easy walking (or cycling) distance.

Centred in worship Every working day in Westminster includes, for those in Cambridge, two short times of worship, led by a student or staff member. Prayer is at the heart of each day and meeting with God together is the heart of our life as a Christian community. We also enjoy worship within the Federation regularly during term, so that we discover the breadth of the ecumenical church at prayer. Training for Ministry


Personal support Westminster has five teaching staff – all specialist teachers and committed to the church’s ministry, and all involved in the wider life of the United Reformed Church as well as in Cambridge. So the college offers not only teaching, but also the kind of personal support and care that can help students develop their strengths and confidence for ministry. Many student spouses, partnes, families and friends play an active part in the life of college.

Learning choices Westminster offers the benefits of a small and intimate community, where individual needs matter, along with a diverse range of academic programmes that can respond to those needs. The Federation is linked to two very different local universities – Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin, and will also soon be linked (for purposes of validation) with the University of Durham). There are several main Federation tracks – all designed and taught with ministry in mind – and various other possibilities in the universities. Bachelor of Theology for Ministry (BTh) This is a basic programme of ministerial education, leading to a Cambridge University degree. To gain access to this programme students need either to have a good previous degree or excellent A levels, OR, to do a year of study here first to demonstrate that this degree would suit them well. The two years of the BTh course (which would often follow an initial year of study here) are based in Cambridge, and include both classroom and practical work. A further year – a requisite for United Reformed Church candidates – is spent on our Living Ministry Programme, in supervised experience and theological reflection with a local church and its minister.

Training for Ministry


Foundation degree (Fd/A) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Christian Theology This degree course is awarded through Anglia Ruskin University. Some of the patterns of learning and assessment are more flexible than at Cambridge University – for example, it is possible to study parttime, and there are distance-learning possibilities too. Students whose period of study is not long enough to finish the degree before ordination will be able, if they wish, to continue it part-time in the early years of their ministry. Previous theological work can enable a student to enter directly into the second year of study, or indeed into the third year. Students who enter on this award at the time of writing, are likely to be transferred at a later date onto the Diploma or BA presently being prepared through the University of Durham (in partnership with Anglican and Methodist partners) – the‘Common Awards’. So students who start out with Anglia Ruskin will likely be transferred to Durham. The transition, to a degree with similar flexibility, will be handled for students and, we hope, as smoothly as possible.

Master of Arts (MA) in Pastoral Theology This higher degree course, also awarded through Anglia Ruskin, is meant for people who have experience both of theological study and of Christian service. There is a wide choice of modules and all of these intentionally link theological thought to the practical side of church life. The MA can be taken full-time over one year, or part-time over several years. It attracts both serving ministers, and students in training who have done some theology elsewhere.

Training for Ministry


BA in Theology and Religious Studies (Tripos) Where a student has a strong academic record, and seeks an intensive taught course in the more traditional disciplines of theology, Westminster can use the BA programme at Cambridge University. This programme is always supplemented by pastoral studies, organised by the college.

MPhil and PhD degrees are also available at both universities, so that a theological graduate can pursue a specialist subject of interest to a high level, and add to the total wisdom of the church. At this level too, there are parttime and distance-learning possibilities.

Where will you live? Where you live may depend upon your family circumstances and the course that is best for you. There are many and varied patterns among our students. Some students come to Westminster from Monday to Friday during term time periods and occupy one of our single residential rooms (soon to be suites), but return to home and family at the weekends and in ‘vacation’ periods. In such cases church placements can be arranged near home. This pattern gives an opportunity to participate in the community life of Westminster, Federation and Cambridge while also keeping home life going. Some students, on part-time programmes, commute as they need to from home, staying overnight in Cambridge as necessary. Some students move to Cambridge for the whole period of their education for ministry. Some rented houses and flats are available through Westminster. These are either on the college site or within easy reach. They vary in size, and can suit singles, couples or families. There are also opportunities to rent accommodation in the city more widely and the college can help you find what you need. Training for Ministry


This is what three of our present students for ministry have to say about the experience of being part of the increasingly diverse Westminster community of students. “I am now coming to the end of my second year of training and can honestly say that being at Westminster College is a true blessing. Studying is hard work but then I never thought it would be easy. Teaching allows the opportunity to question things previously taken for granted and; in the ecumenical learning environment there is lots to talk about with friends and colleagues from other denominational training colleges to gain ecumenical perspective. The teaching staff at Westminster are a pleasure to learn from and generous and enthusiastic in all they do. The support staff are very patient and understanding of students – how they put up with us, and keep smiling, I don’t know! Being at Westminster makes me feel part of a diverse, nurturing and wonderful family. A family, like any other, that has some problems - but in spite of these one that I am delighted to be a part of and wholeheartedly recommend.” Ruth Wilson “When I started my study at Westminster it was for non-stipendiary ministerial training. It was decided that I should work on the Anglia Ruskin BA in Christian theology because it had a level of flexibility in the way that I could work through the modules required. I worked part-time and studied for two days a week. Every other week I travelled up to Cambridge, during term time, to be part of the community, attend lectures where possible and have private tutorials. For the weeks in between I met with a local tutor who supported me as I worked independently through the module handbooks, rather as I had done when previously Training for Ministry


attending the TLS course. It was undeniably tricky to balance work, college and family life, but college were always keen to make things work for me and it was actually really good to have the support of a local tutor too. In the second year I re-applied to become a stipendiary minister, returned to the assessment board and was accepted. At this point I stopped working, so technically became a full-time student. However, with the demands of family life, college were able to facilitate me working from home for a couple of days a week as long as I could attend the lectures and tutorials relevant to the modules I was studying. I was also able to get more learning support as I am mildly dyslexic. The staff have actively encouraged me to use and develop my art skills throughout the course as another way to both consolidate and communicate my learning. I am shortly to complete final year of my BA and I will become minister to a pastorate of two Churches this summer. Overall my learning experience at Westminster has been great. There has undeniably been a lot of travelling to do and sometimes being at such a distance from my family has felt very hard. However, it has been an absolute privilege to be part of the Westminster College community. I have grown spiritually, been challenged theologically and have been equipped for ministry both intellectually and practically (though I realise that this journey will be lifelong!). Kay Blackwell Living and studying in Cambridge is something that I thought I would never do and as I walk through the University Colleges to go to a lecture or just in to town I still cannot quite believe I am here. The last couple of years have been an amazing experience, although at times very challenging. To be taught within an ecumenical setting as well as academic means not only have I been challenged about who I think God is, but also about what it means to be the Church. As I am following the BTh programme of study, I get the contrast of being taught Training for Ministry


within the Federation and the University Divinity Faculty, which I have really enjoyed. However, ministerial formation is not just about the academic study. I have been privileged to be working with one of the city centre churches and its sister church in a local village, giving me experience of worship leading and the many aspects of pastoral care. Living in the place where you also study and to some extent worship can be very intense. But the Westminster community is so diverse and changes from term-toterm, that there is never a dull moment nor is it short of interesting people to meet, and not just from the local area but also from the wider church nationally and internationally. Elaine Colechin

Finding out Westminster is always ready to respond to people who ask about its work, and about how they might fit in. Particularly at present, as the college’s remit expands to include more distance learning, we look forward to hearing from enquirers and ministerial candidates around the country, to talk about how our programmes could connect with yourparticular needs. College staff will gladly arrange to meet people who want to discuss these questions and concerns.

Write to: The Principal, Westminster College, Cambridge CB3 0AA phone: 01223-741084 email:

Training for Ministry


Training for Ministry


Bible image: Š ryanking999 - Back to school concept: Š Vesna Cvorovic - Produced by communications graphics office on behalf of the education and learning committee.

Education for Ministry Phase 1  

Education for Ministry Phase 1: Resource Centres for Learning, URCpublication