When I joined St Mellitus College (SMC) back in 2008, working under the founding Dean, Graham Tomlin (now Bishop of Kensington and President of SMC), as part of a small staff team that included Jane Williams and Michael Lloyd, I don’t think I had any idea how significant a role the college would play in my life. Now, 12 years later, as I move on to be the next Bishop of Sherwood in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity that I have had to be involved with SMC. It has been the greatest joy of my life.
When I started, the college was still a fledgling institution, having begun only a year earlier as a partnership between the Dioceses of London and Chelmsford and Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) following the bringing together of North Thames Ministerial Training Course and St Paul’s Theological Centre (SPTC). There were a relatively small number of pioneering students who had bravely chosen to purse the innovative full-time context-based training route for ordination that we had begun to develop alongside the more established part-time training pathway. In 2008 we had 80 students in training across our London and Chelmsford teaching centres. Things have developed a little since then!
I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity that I have had to be involved with SMC. It has been the greatest joy of my life.
This remarkable growth couldn’t have happened without the involvement and generosity of a number of people and organisations, particularly Bishops, HTB, individual donors who have given generously to support the college over the years, Ministry Division of the Church of England and our accrediting Universities, Durham and Middlesex. When describing St Mellitus College to others, I have often said that it is a place of joy, marked by the energy and life of the Spirit, and a place which embodies hope: for the Church and for the world. This has been my experience. The college has always been passionate about the Gospel, about forming healthy and effective church leaders, both lay and ordained, about church planting, and about the expectation which arises when the church in all its diversity, across cultures and worshipping traditions, comes together to learn from one another and work together for the sake of Christ. The emergence of the college’s value of Generous Orthodoxy, which seeks to embrace this missional identity, has been one of the most encouraging signs of vitality at the heart of the college. It has been a privilege to nurture the formational journeys of the students, and I have thrived in the fun and friendship we have shared together.
I am so thankful for the willingness of the board and the staff team to take risks for the sake of the gospel, most notably in developing the different regional centres which has made training accessible to many areas across the country and transformed SMC into a national college. The more recent development of the Peter Stream, seeking to support candidates from under-represented groups in their vocational journey and training, is a vitally important task that aims to ensure that the future leadership of the Church reflects the true diversity of the people it ministers to. While we still have a very long way to go, the growth in the number of BAME staff and students at the college over recent years has been an encouraging sign.
When describing St Mellitus College to others, I have often said that it is a place of joy, marked by the energy and life of the Spirit, and a place which embodies hope: for the Church and for the world.
I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve as Dean over the last 5 years and for the support, trust and encouragement I have received. To work in such an exciting and dynamic college as SMC has been inspiring, stretching, faith sustaining and hope building. Being able to journey alongside students and see them grow in their faith, their confidence in the gospel, their conviction for mission and passion for ministry has been a huge blessing, and I have hugely appreciated working with a brilliant, diverse and talented staff team.
The passion, the joy, the hope, the fun, the huge commitment that the students and staff bring to the community is what makes it such a special place. I'm indebted to the remarkable and incredibly hard-working staff team and the creativity, dedication and love they pour into the college, and I've been so inspired by the student body, the stories of how God has brought them here to study and train with us, the formational journeys undertaken during their time at college, and the varied and diverse ministry that they go on to offer after graduating.
It is going to be very hard to leave, I will miss so much about the college, but I am also hugely looking forward to my new role as Bishop of Sherwood in Southwell & Nottingham diocese and will continue to pray for and support SMC and all it is involved with