New centre to train Church of England ministers officially launched in Portsmouth
A NEW centre to train our ministers in the heart of Portsmouth has been officially launched by Bishop Christopher at a special service.
Dozens of people including students, their friends and family, Clergy and diocesan staff gathered in St Luke’s Church in Southsea, where the centre is based, for the service.
It celebrated the beginning of the Portsmouth Pathway, our new centre for training clergy and lay ministers, which accepted its first intake of students in September this year.
The service was led by Bishop Christopher and included hymns, readings, prayers and the commissioning of the small team leading and supporting the centre and its students.
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.”
The centre is a joint initiative with leading theological college, Ripon College Cuddesdon, and will mean that students, trainee clergy and lay Readers, can be taught theology locally without needing to be sent away to theological college.
It will cater for up to 15 trainee clergy and 20 lay Readers at any one time.
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.
It is led by the Rev Dr James Grenfell. James most recent role was as the director of mission engagement for the Christian charity Us – formerly USPG.
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.