Relational ministerial formation during Covid
Northern Baptist College's vision of growing leaders for a changing church in a changing world has proved prophetic in a year of restrictions
This year we have continued to provide ministerial formation that is, at its heart, relational whilst having been under almost continual lockdowns which has given us the opportunities to try new things. Most of our leaving students settled into a range of ministries while we were delighted to welcome a gifted cohort of new ministers in training (MiTs). Our Baptist Leadership Programme has temporarily moved online, and we have enjoyed virtual weekends together exploring Marks of Ministry, Myers Briggs, Baptists Together and Diversity Awareness.
Our vision of seeking to grow leaders for a changing church in a changing world remains prophetically relevant as we have begun working together to discern our priorities for the next five years. We remain committed to working in partnership with others including Urban Expression, Rural Ministries, The Centre for Theology and Justice and have been particularly blessed by being part of the partnership that has put together the Creating Sanctuary Resource.
Central to our way of working is our partnership with our various Hubs: Luther King House, The Light College, St. Hild and Cranmer Hall. These hubs enable our students to undertake their academic work geographically closer to home while we all gather together at regular points through the year through the Baptist Leadership Programme.
At Luther King House moving validation arrangements from Manchester to Durham Common Awards has led to new opportunities e.g., an MA in Chaplaincy and modules in Intersectionality and Theologies from the Majority World. Zoom classrooms have enabled our relational and interactive styles of learning, and our weekly community worship is a highlight. We are considering including more online teaching in the future.
Our new partnership with The Light College is overseen by Rob Beamish and supported by the Mission Forum and NWBA. This exciting new venture has started well and promises to draw on, and support, the increased interest in pioneering ministry reaching those beyond the church.
At St. Hild some students have really thrived on digital college, while others have missed the face-to-face interaction. Developments include a Baptist student place on the college council; Sally Nelson, our hub tutor, taking research leave; and two MiTs being on chaplaincy/pioneering pathways.
We have been delighted to welcome Ian Galloway as the newly appointed Director of the Free Church Track, at Cranmer Hall working with Linda Donaldson our hub tutor and Roy Searle who has been covering for Linda’s sabbatical. Core to this has been our weekly Baptist discipleship group encouraging and praying for one another.
Lastly, we had an encouraging start to our first ever online Edifi course for local leaders exploring Corporate Discernment, engaging with leadership teams from twelve churches. Three additional Edifi events looking at Listening to God in Lockdown, Being Church beyond Lockdown and Preaching in a Time of Crisis were a particular highlight. We look forward to offering a wider range of online learning opportunities starting in the next academic year.
A shortened version of this article appears in the 2020 Annual Review of the Baptist Union of Great Britain