At Regent’s Park, we aim to form thoughtful, mission-oriented ministers, ready to respond to the challenges of church and kingdom in the 21st century.
Learning and formation in ministry is a lifetime’s work but initial Ministerial Formation in the Baptist Union takes approximately six years. The College course usually accounts for the first three years of this process; establishing patterns for personal and professional development, which continue when a student becomes a Newly Accredited Minister (more below) and beyond. Those who are preparing for ordained ministry need to be able to lead churches in mission as well as plant new churches, engage in pioneering or work as chaplains. The ministerial formation course at Regent’s combines these things together, developing understanding and skills and equipping students to encourage churches into new and creative ways of mission.
The word formation recognises that becoming a minister is not simply acquiring a set of skills, but about being shaped in new and growing ways as first a disciple of Jesus Christ, and as a minister who will serve the church and the world.
Ministerial formation at Regent’s has scope for all those considering ministry, whether in a church, or in pioneering and chaplaincy settings. The team at Regent’s has a wide experience that will be responsive to the discerned call upon your life.
Our ministerial students follow a course of theological study chosen in light of their experience and qualifications, ranging from diploma to doctoral level, as part of a wider process of formation, in which developing character and spirituality combine with gaining new knowledge and skills. All ministerial students have time and opportunities to study the Bible and biblical subjects and to reflect theologically on their experience of church and ministry. Our aim is that students will have the tools to think biblically and theologically about the variety of issues relating to the church and the world throughout their ministry, together with the character and spiritual disciplines to flourish.
Ministerial formation usually follows one of two basic patterns:
CONGREGATION-BASED FORMATION, where students prepare for ministry from a local church base; this is the pattern followed by the majority of students. Regent’s has been developing this pattern of formation for more than 30 years, building a number of strong partnerships between the College and the churches, which share an understanding that formation takes place in both contexts. Typically students take up ministerial duties in a church within a two-hour commute to Oxford – some much closer, some even further away. Students come into College on Tuesdays during term time, 25 weeks each year, and for four block weeks when students are accommodated on site. Block weeks provide ministerial students with vital opportunities for intensive periods of study, and for deepening relationships with other students and staff. In pastorate, the Minister-in-Training is regarded as the minister (sole or joint) in their church and carries out the full range of ministerial tasks. They will usually be paid a half stipend and expenses, and often live in the manse. Sometimes, if circumstances make this preferable, they may commute to the church from their home. Regent’s offers a range of support to students on this pattern, including frequent visits from tutors and the opportunity for members of the church to visit College. As part of their overall preparation, congregation-based students normally the BTh suite of courses, or an MTh in Applied Theology.
COLLEGE-BASED FORMATION, where students follow a full-time university course alongside placement work. These students usually study the BTh or the MTh, or another appropriate course. College-based students generally move to Oxford or commute from a sensible distance (generally spending three or four days each week in Oxford). Being in Oxford allows them to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by being part of the College community – social, sporting, and cultural! College-based students have a placement in a local church during their first two years, working alongside a minister, and then they work on a hospital Chaplaincy placement in their third year, to broaden their experience of ministry.
It is also possible to pursue either pattern on a part-time or bi-vocational basis, where time at College, private study and placement experience can be combined with other part-time paid employment or with other responsibilities, such as child-care.
Whichever path they take, our ministerial students do a great deal together and their different experiences enrich one another’s development. Teaching is highly interactive as students and staff engage in learning together, and there are frequent opportunities to reflect on the practice of ministry in placements, and for students to support one another and to pray together. Ministerial students are also members of the Middle Common Room (MCR), where they interact with postgraduate and mature students pursuing academic programmes across the University. Oxford is a great place to prepare for ministry: it is a stimulating environment for those with high academic aspirations, but it is also one in which those with modest academic achievements can find lots of support, learn in small groups, and flourish.
If you have questions regarding any of the information on this page, please contact:
The Revd Dr Anthony Clarke
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