Diocese of Portsmouth

    We will train our own ministers

    9 July 2015

    CHURCH of England ministers will be trained in the heart of Portsmouth for the first time from September.

    The Rev Dr James Grenfell

    Our diocese has joined forces with leading theological college, Ripon College Cuddesdon, to create a new centre for training clergy and lay ministers.

    The new Portsmouth Pathway course will be based at St Luke’s Church in the heart of the city. It will cater for up to 15 trainee clergy and 20 lay Readers, who will be taught theology locally – without needing to be sent away to theological college.

    It will give students the chance to put their theology into practice in parishes in inner-city Portsmouth as they learn. And it will also allow trainee clergy and Readers to train together for the first time, modelling collaborative ministry.

    And its first director has now been appointed. Our diocese and Ripon College Cuddesdon, have appointed the Rev Dr James Grenfell as the first director of the Portsmouth Pathway.

    James is moving in August from his role as director of mission engagement for the Christian charity Us – formerly USPG – ready for the first intake of students in September.

    Bishop Christopher said: “I’m excited about the fact that we’ll be offering this training within Portsmouth, which allows us to root the training in the culture and context of our diocese. It will be high quality theological training and will allow people to train on parish placements throughout their course. It will be both academically rigorous and very practical. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to appoint a director of James’s calibre and experience.”

    The course has been named ‘Portsmouth Pathway’ to reflect the fact that all who study are on a journey of discipleship. Most of the sessions there will take place in the evening or at weekends, meaning those who work during the day can attend.

    The initiative is a partnership between our diocese, Ripon College Cuddesdon, where Bishop Christopher is chairman of the board of trustees, and Durham University. The three-year course will lead to diplomas or certificates in theology. Students will study the Bible, preaching, ministry, mission, pastoral care, worship and Christian ethics.

    Previously, those who wanted to become clergy from our diocese would spend two or three years at one of the residential theological colleges around the country, or would train part-time on the Southern Theological Education and Training Scheme (STETS), based in Salisbury.

    The Rt Rev Humphrey Southern, Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon said “We are particularly blessed to have recruited James Grenfell to lead this venture. He brings rich experience as a teacher, trainer and parish priest, particularly in Sheffield where he collaborated with the College a decade ago in the oversight of ordinands in training there.” 

    Ripon College Cuddesdon is one of the largest theological colleges in the Church of England, with some 150 ministers in training on its various pathways in Oxfordshire and the West of England. The Portsmouth Pathway represents an exciting new departure for both the Diocese and the College.