Plant a Tree

Martin Luther is once credited as saying, “If I believed the world were to end tomorrow, I would still plant a tree today.” Alistair McKitterick, a lecturer at Moorlands College, explores whether this saying contains a helpful biblical principle.

In particular, he questions whether the world even has an end. And if getting to heaven is not the Christian’s end goal, how and where will we ultimately dwell with God?

Friends, Winners, Scholars and Wolves: Highlights of 2016–17

It’s the end of the 2016–17 academic year for our undergraduate students. During the final week of celebrations at our Christchurch Campus, we asked some of our students and staff, “What have been your highlights of 2016–17?”

The end of summer term marks a time where students from all years can come together, celebrate the end of deadlines and say farewell to our leaving third year students.

The week kicked off with our students getting involved in various UK-based mission trips. Our college tutor groups partnered with churches to help at church-based events and got involved in community projects across the country. Upon their return, Helen Morris’ tutor group hosted a chapel service featuring student testimonies and gospel band.

2017 leavers (Christchurch Campus)

2017 volleyball

The Manor (Christchurch) hosted us later that evening for the annual Summer Ball, with the Shakespearean theme of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. The sun shone for the entirety of the week, allowing our staff and students to take to the grounds for endless volleyball matches and five-a-side frisbee.

Helen & Tony’s Tutor Group: Aladdin

Chris Sinkinson and Tony Thomson

In the annual staff versus students volleyball match, the students finally beat the staff’s seven-year reign and were victorious! The inter-tutor volleyball match was Disney-themed this year; highlights included Chris Jack (Director of Postgraduate Studies) dressing up a wolf from The Jungle Book, Tony Thomson (Head Librarian) as Rajah from Aladdin, and Chris Sinkinson (Lecturer in Old Testament and Apologetics) as Captain Hook from Peter Pan. You’ll find more photos from the week on our Facebook page.

The Christchurch Class of 2017

The week came to a close with our Thanksgiving Service as we came together to worship and celebrate all that God has done through our students.

The week was fun-filled, community based and a great way to wind down after the assignment deadlines. We commend the Student Council and the Mission Weekend team leaders for their effort in making the week all that it was.

Celebrating the Christchurch Class of 2017

Above: Rev Dianne Tidball addresses a packed-out auditorium

“Our calling is not to be great names or great personalities, but to be men and women of Godly character who enable Heaven to be seen through us, around us and amongst us.”
Rev Dianne Tidball

At our Christchurch Campus Thanksgiving Service this month, we spent time celebrating our student’s efforts as the academic year drew to a close. Rev Dianne Tidball, President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, gave an inspirational message that focused on our role as Christians, how to see ourselves in light of Christ, and what this means in ministry. She shared: “Our role is to not get people into Heaven; but to depend on God, to be part of his plan, and to get Heaven into people so that we can shine with the light of Jesus Christ and build his Kingdom.”

The Charge
A leavers’ commission, known as The Charge, was spoken over our leaving students by Vice Principal, Dr Ian Kirby, encouraging them to apply what they’ve learnt during their studies into the working world or further study. The final paragraph of The Charge, presented as a scroll, reads: “We send you out with the words of the Commission from the Lord Jesus Christ, who said: ‘All authority has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you to the very end of the age.’”

Prize winners
Year group prizes were awarded by Principal Steve Brady. The Foundation Year prize went to Elaine Galliot (donated by Christchurch Baptist Church); the First Year prize to Jacob Tyers (donated by On Track Ministries); the Second Year prize to Ebow Essel (donated by Doug and Sue Barnett) and the Third Year prize to Fiona Cursiter (donated by Immanuel Church, Bournemouth).

Community prizes were also awarded to Enoch Adekoya for Preaching (donated by Christchurch Baptist Church); to Scott Rushby for Communication (donated by YMCA Bournemouth); to Daniel Alcock for Evangelism (donated by Blowing Your Cover); Alice Fenning for Contribution to College Life (donated by the College Principal); Israel Douglas and Dan Bennett won the joint prize for Contribution to Local Community (donated by Mike Yates).

Alice Fenning collects her prize

Above: Alice Fenning collects here Contribution to College Life prize from Dianne and Rev Dr Steve Brady, College Principal

Student testimonies
Several students shared heartfelt testimonies and spoke of the ways in which God had worked in their lives.

Elaine Galliot (Foundation Year): “The best thing I have learnt in my time so far has been discipline, discipline, discipline; in studies, in my home and personal life, in lectures, and in reading God’s word. I have found that to be the core of my year, meaning that I have a great foundation on which to build on.”

Joshua Clark (First Year): “Two weeks before I started this year at Moorlands, my family received news that my Dad’s cancer had developed into his brain and he had weeks to live. And so I came in the knowledge that this would be the most difficult time in my life. At one point I said to Dad I wasn’t coming; that I wanted to stay with him and look after him. Instead he told me, ‘If God has given you a calling, then God will give you an equipping. I would rather see you off to Moorlands where I know you will get that and where I know you will grow.’”

Enoch Adekoya (Second Year): “Apart from various matters outside college, I have the role of chair of Student Council here and delightfully, I got engaged to a wonderful lady. Amidst it all, the Lord Jesus has been so faithful. And he has reminded me so frequently that he is the Lord, He never changes and he is faithful till the end, even when my love for him fluctuates, he remains constant – ever faithful. In the Lord, I’ve found an unchanging, dependable Father, and in Christ a Saviour and friend who will never abandon His own.”

Jessica Walker (Third Year): “Moorlands has given me a new dream a dream to live in a poor and broken community working every day to see the beauty of Jesus work through the lives of the precious people on Thornaby estate, Middlesbrough. My understanding of a life well lived and a life worth living has been stretched. A life that is soaked in scripture, aided by in-depth study, a life in continual conversation with our Father in heaven, and a life that embraces the Holy Spirit.”

Enoch Adekoya

Above: Second Year student Enoch Adekoya shares his testimony

Our thanks go to the student band for leading us in times of sung worship; to the staff team and student stewards who all played a part in the success of the event, and to the kitchen team for serving vast amounts of cream teas for guests’ enjoyment.

We are now looking forwards to our Graduation service in November where we can formally commend our graduands for their achievements.

Leaving students

The Christchurch Class of 2017

Above: The Christchurch Class of 2017

Why is training leaders important?

Local churches often encourage and support their members to study with Moorlands College because they see leadership potential and want to bring it to fruition. But is it really necessary for churches to add this to their ever-growing ‘to do’ list?

In this exclusive video interview, Rev Dr Clive Burnard, Senior Pastor at Mutley Baptist Church in Plymouth, explains the importance of identifying and nurturing future leaders within local churches.

Department for Education awards Moorlands College a teaching excellence award

Moorlands College is recognised for its meeting of rigorous national quality requirements for higher education, receiving a Teaching Excellence Framework Provisional Award.

The Government has recently confirmed the results of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) that recognises and rewards excellent teaching in UK Higher Education providers.

Moorlands College, the first independent theology college to opt into the scheme, has now been awarded a provisional TEF award. This provisional TEF award means that Moorlands College has met the quality expectations required for TEF eligibility and is now in the formal government teaching excellence league table.

The TEF has been introduced as a way of informing students’ choices about what and where to study, to raise esteem for teaching, to reward a provider’s excellent teaching and to meet the needs of employers and businesses. A TEF Provisional Award means that Moorlands College meets rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education, and is taking part in the TEF, but does not yet have sufficient data to be fully assessed. Moorlands College may be fully assessed in future when it has sufficient data.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England works with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education and is responsible for implementing the TEF according to the Department of Education’s specification.

When discussing the recent results, Ian Kirby, Vice Principal (Academic) at Moorlands College, shared:

I’m really delighted to see that Moorlands has taken the next step forward as a leading provider of theological training for Christian ministry. Receiving a TEF rating demonstrates that we are a robust institution, providing a learning experience that is recognised within the world renowned UK Higher Education section.”

Teaching Excellence Framework Provisional Award


Chaplaincy on the front line

Jonathan Woodhouse CB

The two terrorist attacks in ten days at the Manchester Arena, London Bridge and Borough Market, which claimed 30 lives and 107 people injured will change their lives and those of their families forever. The pain and trauma for individuals, families and the emotional reflections of those who so professionally and courageously ran towards the danger will last long after the media move onto the next story. The united sense of revulsion felt across the religious and political spectrum of the UK is combined with the thoughts, prayers and compassion shown to the victims and their families by so many.

When critical incidents happen, a myriad questions arise. When it comes to a Christian response, compassion should be the first action. Compassion is a strong motif of Jesus’ ministry in the Synoptic Gospels and His care for the victim, the vulnerable and the sick is powerful.

Behind the scenes of outstanding hospital care, emergency services, police and intelligence investigations and a British spirit of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ is the work of the many Christian chaplains who respond to critical incidents with courage, representing the compassion of Christ in the most harrowing and demanding circumstances. Whether they are Chaplains to the Police, Ambulance Service, NHS Hospitals, Civic centres or a host of other institutions, their ministry carries on behind the scenes. Their incarnational, relational ministry outlasts our short and distracted memories. Garry Serra Di Migni and Jayne Irlam are co-ministers at Church Without Walls, a fresh expressions church in Manchester, and are both police chaplains. Writing in The Baptist Times online, they observe,

“Our main ministry right now is to the police. Several of the officers we know were at the scene within 20 minutes of the explosion, and all of them have attended the scene subsequently, and hence seen things that nobody should ever have to see.”

 Chaplains bring an incarnational presence, a relational confidence, listening to the paradoxical tensions and emotions which people often struggle with following critical incidents. They also help provide a suitable ritual framework where people come together to remember, reflect or stand defiantly in the face of outrage. Winnifred Sullivan, writing in the North America context maintains,

“the chaplain is emerging as an indispensable person for the administration of care […] the religious professional best suited to public ministry in the 21st century—the best one able to broker between the institutions of the secular, religious hierarchies.” [W.A. Sullivan, A Ministry of Presence: Chaplaincy, Spiritual Care and the Law (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2014), 53]

Chaplains are invited by and formally designated through the employers of institutions to operate within the public space. They are expected to bring spiritual support, pastoral care and moral guidance to members of the organisation. This means that faith expressed through chaplains and the role faith plays within the ministry of chaplaincy, is acceptable in the public space and is largely uncontested.

In the UK, since the mid 1990’s, chaplains have made deep inroads into British communities and institutions well beyond the traditional military, educational, hospital, police and prison chaplaincies. As Ryan’s empirical Theos research publication demonstrated:

“Chaplains are everywhere. Quite simply, throughout British society in 2014 the variety of people involved in chaplaincy ministry is absolutely enormous and encompasses a range of organisational settings (fields) as broad as British society itself.” [B.Ryan, A Very Modern Ministry: Chaplaincy in the UK (London: Theos, 2015) 14.]

Chaplains from the Christian Church often argue that chaplaincy is on the frontline of missional leadership, spirituality, ethics, the public square and engagement, discussion and debate with other world faiths, humanism, secularism and atheism.

That is a big claim. The extent to which this claim has substance and relevance for the 21st century UK Church and society is one reason for studying it as a specialism on the MA at Moorlands College. What is not in doubt is the truth behind the slogan we used in advertising for Army chaplains: ‘Ministry at the edge of the Church is often at the Heart of the Gospel.’ Chaplains on the frontline, such as Garry and Jayne in Manchester, are also in need of our prayers, as we continue to pray and offer compassion to the victims and families of the Manchester and London attacks.

Rev Jonathan Woodhouse CB is a Chaplain and lecturer at Moorlands College.