Ministerial Formation

The aim of our training programmes is to prepare the whole person for mission and ministry in today's world. Courses in both mission and ministry help to develop an understanding of the mission of God and the tasks of ministry, and courses in human development and pastoral practice equip you to know what it means to live a fully human life and how pastoral care is responsibly exercised. There are additional optional courses in pastoral psychology, covering topics such as group dynamics, conflict, sexuality, mental health issues and human identity.

What we do is rooted in far more than simple skills-based learning. We aim for wisdom and a robust spirituality.
Mark Chapman

Church Placements

On Sundays during term-time students go on placement to a local church, perhaps of their own tradition, perhaps to a church very different from previous experience. First year students are expected mainly to observe and reflect on their experience, second and third year students to preach and lead worship on a regular basis.

During the summer, students go on a four week parish placement. Usually this is an important time of transition from lay to ordained ministry. Students both shadow their supervisor, usually the vicar of the parish, and work on their own initiative. Summer placements may take place in the local area or in inner cities, in your home area or in another part of the country, and a few go overseas.

Placements give a rich variety of experience to become familiar with the range of worship styles represented in the Church of England, through pastoral care in different contexts, the challenge of unfamiliar situations, and practice in attentive listening, practical service, preaching and leading worship, and responsible initiative and theological reflection.

Community Placements

Usually one afternoon per week is devoted to a community-based placement. There is a variety of placements available, such as in a hospital, school or prison, working with asylum seekers, homeless people, or with the elderly. The choice of placement follows discussion with your Placement Tutor.

Listening Skills

Good listening – to God, to oneself and to other people – is the foundation of effective ministry. Courses are offered in the skills of attentive listening at both a basic and an intermediate level, taking into account previous training and experience.

Theological Reflection

This is the skill of applying theory to practice, and in a manner that is theologically informed. Although unfamiliar at first, most students quickly get the hang of theological reflection and use it enthusiastically to help them get the most out of their placements. 

Preaching

A course in communication focuses on some of the important areas of preparation for the ministry of preaching, such as the nature of communication in contemporary society, Biblical interpretation, authority in ministry and the preacher’s relationship with the congregation. Next, a series of workshops  looks at various aspects of sermon preparation, such as structure, visual images, the language of the preacher, introductions and conclusions. This is then all brought together and practiced in small preaching groups.

Themed Study Weeks

Four times each year, a week is given over to focussing intensively on one particular aspect of ministry. Everyone takes weeks on communication; leadership; sacraments; the use of the Bible; and death, dying and bereavement. Additional options include rural ministry; inter-faith dialogue; marriage and family life; faith and work; congregational studies; financial leadership in the parish; community mission; and working with children and young people. The range of themed study weeks is constantly developing to meet current needs in ministry and mission.

Spiritual Formation

Regular spiritual direction is expected throughout your time in college and help is available to find spiritual directors. We also regularly bring in external spiritual directors, male and female, ordained and lay. An introductory course in spirituality in the first term of training gives focussed experience of prayer and begins to provide tools for establishing a sustaining prayer life. 

Each term there is a Quiet Day, and there is a six-week 'Retreat in Daily Life' in the Hilary Term which builds on what has been explored in the introductory course. Our chaplaincy team are available to listen, and to help you discover and develop spiritual practices to sustain your ministry.