Nick Griffin is Tutor and Lecturer in Theology at St Mellitus College, South West. Below, he answers a few questions.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I have always lived in the South West of England. The rolling fields of Somerset, Devon’s dramatic coasts and the barren moors are so beautiful that I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!
Growing up, our household was not particularly religious. I once attended Boy’s Brigade but refused to join because I would have to attend church once a month! God had other plans and my Mother introduced me to the Lord by bringing me along to a ‘Free Church’. When I was 15, I attended ‘The Message’ – a conference designed to evangelise the city of Manchester through practical service. On my hands and knees scrubbing chewing gum from Salford High Street, I discovered the joy of service and soon allowed God’s call to permeate my whole life. I met my Wife at the same conference, so God was pretty busy that week. This sense of call shaped every major decision I’ve ever made and led me to study for my undergraduate degree at Moorlands College, and later an MTh at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. I was ordained as an Anglican at 26. I am just about to finish my PhD in Systematic Theology through King’s College London.
I combine my work at St Mellitus with the role of Associate Priest for the Blackdown Benefice, a group of six churches in the borderland hills of Somerset. Our churches are small but love the Lord! I am so excited to see how God will bless these faithful communities in the coming years.
What were you doing before you started at St Mellitus College?
For the past three years, I was University Chaplain at Plymouth Marjon University. Working with students and staff gave so many joyful opportunities for creative expressions of worship. We camped out in a cardboard refugee camp in the middle of the quad, held regular bonfires and developed a city-wide charity initiative bringing groups together to tackle child poverty. Chaplaincy offers enormous freedom of opportunity to explore the gospel in contextually appropriate ways. In particular, I learnt that everyone has a theology that underpins their worldview, whether or not God is acknowledged in their lives. Being a Chaplain meant giving people space to bring their, frequently unspoken, theology out into the open. Again and again I was reminded of the beauty of the gospel of Christ and how deeply attractive it is amid the egotism of contemporary culture.
What do you most hope for SMC South West going forward?
My heart is for the revival of the Church in the South West. One of the original visions for SMC South West is to ‘awaken the saints’ of the land. This beautiful landscape was once filled with monasteries, abbeys and communities dedicated to worship; Church attendance in the South West is at a low ebb. The challenge of the South West is that it can feel disconnected and even forgotten by the rest of the country, but God has not forsaken this area! My prayer is that SMC South West can equip, enrich and restore confidence in the love of God for this place by inspiring a fresh generation of students to make disciples in hedgerows and terrace rows.
And what do you do when you are not at St Mellitus College?
We’ve just got a new miniature dachshund puppy called Lucy. I am trying to train her to balance treats on her nose but it’s not going well. The puppy plus the two kids and two cats keep my Wife and I pretty busy! We like to go on mini-adventures together around the area.
I listen to music constantly but if I am left to my own devices, I attempt to play Blues guitar with the odd bit of Rock and Folk guitar thrown in! If I am left alone for too long, I am highly likely to chop a tree down or start a hobby that I am hideously underqualified for, like building things from pallets or upholstery. It is probably safer for everyone if I keep busy!