to be revealed” 1 John 3.2
We are a diverse community, but all of our students share in the experience of exceeding their expectations through the learning and formation to which God has called them.
Theological education changes us. It is meant to: whatever our background, whatever our experience, whatever our Church tradition, whatever our gifts and talents, a programme of theological study or ministerial formation involves us in mind and heart and promotes personal, intellectual, and spiritual change. At St Augustine’s, we support and encourage this change, knowing that your formation will not conform to any fixed and invariable standard and that we’d betray our mission if we aimed at a characteristic ‘product’, a ‘type’.
We have learned to expect surprises, to rejoice as you find yourself going beyond your expectations, discovering unanticipated strengths and capacities, and learning that grace exceeds dreams. St. Augustine’s will encourage and support you as you develop your spiritual maturity, your courage and your readiness for social and personal change, as you engage in theologically reflective practice, and as you honour your commitment to lifelong formation.
Meet some students
“I was a civil servant for over 20 years before going through discernment for the priesthood. I actually started as an Independent student, but then Ordination was recommended for me so I switched and became a full-time Ordained Ministry student.
“The people studying here are pretty diverse, with a range of life and academic experiences. Some have done a great deal, but others are less experienced, and that makes for a lot of different attitudes towards study! It’s very different from my experience as an undergraduate student before. Everybody gets challenged, one way or another, but in a really friendly, supportive environment.”
“As Readers in training we don’t choose our College – based on which diocese we’re in, it chooses us! But I had already heard of SEITE, (as St Augustine’s used to be called), and knew it provided a very challenging, good quality course.
“I’m in a year group with six Readers and we have a really strong sense of community – we form a tight knit support group. The teaching is excellent, with outstanding tutors, detailed and helpful feedback and really good study support if you need it. I enjoy the balance between the academic and the practical, with real encouragement to try things out and reflect on them.
“From early on in the course, we take turns to lead worship so that helps us practice with our own style but also to experiment with other styles of worship. It’s a great preparation for the future, with the knowledge and understanding we gain underpinning
the practical experience we gain in our own churches and in placements. I’d say the course is for everyone, whatever your background or Christian tradition.”
“It’s a really flexible way to study, and discover what it is that God is really calling you to do. I originally started in Reader training, but then moved over to independent study, as I realised I was being called to do something else. During a year’s gap in study I realised I was being called to Ordained Ministry.
“Even though I’d studied here before, I did look elsewhere, because I wanted to understand all my options, including residential. But St Augustine’s is better suited to accommodating my life with my husband and children.
“Being able to study on a non-residential course, while continuing to work part-time, has helped me to introduce my family to life with me as an Ordinand. There’s still an impact on the family, but if I’d gone on a residential course, they would have had to come too, which would have meant far more upheaval. In some places, there’s an expectation that because someone becomes an Ordinand, their family is involved in the Church too. Here, it’s recognised that that’s not necessarily the case. But they do offer the family the chance to come along to some events, so they can see what it will be
like, which really helps.
“I think it’s because they’re quite family-focussed and realise that, even if the rest of the family isn’t involved in the Church, they ARE involved, and they’re sympathetic towards that.
“It’s an excellent preparation for Ministry. The combination of classroom, research and then taking it all out into the world and having different conversations is teaching me how to share what I’m learning with others. The practical skills are vital – so elements like the Chaplaincy placement are really important.”
“I’m in part-time training for Ordained Ministry and I chose SEITE (as it was then called) because the age range of the students suited me better, and I liked the range of Christian backgrounds here – from evangelical to ‘high’ church traditions. I think the range is unique, and certainly broader than other colleges I looked at which were more exclusively evangelical. It’s a real strength, because we all learn from each other, and it teaches us, amongst other things, to be tolerant of differing views.
“Because there’s been no ‘home’ as such, we’ve felt quite nomadic. That creates a real sense of a people-based community – people who draw strength from one another – rather like Christ and the disciples. I think that, had I chosen a residential college, I’d have missed out on that. Staying in our own lives, and out there in the world working properly in the Church makes us far more useful as Ordinands.
“The teaching is extremely good. I was a little worried about not having an academic background, but there’s some brilliant study skills support, and I’ve really been made to feel that I’m an asset to the College too.”
“I’d been a Lay Reader in my Church for 26 years when I started to feel a nudge towards Ordained Ministry. I was a bit reluctant at first, though, as I was a full-time teacher.
“Now I’m teaching part-time, and I love the way study fits around my life. Once I’m ordained, I’d like to teach in the mornings and have a self-supporting ministry in the afternoons. I
enjoy the mix of people from different backgrounds and cultures. The support of other students is vital and you become very close to people, and it’s good to be able to spend time with other types of student – those studying independently, or to become Lay Readers.
“The Easter residential is a particular highlight. It’s a chance to spend that time getting to know people, but also staying at the King’s School in Canterbury is great. Most importantly of all, though, daily worship in Canterbury Cathedral is beyond wonderful.”
“I studied at St Augustine’s (or SEITE as it then was) as an Ordinand, subsequent to leaving my job as a research scientist. The diversity of Church backgrounds was a very positive bonus – it teaches you to listen to and learn from people from other backgrounds and to appreciate their angle on things. Many of the other colleges really can’t offer that.
“Around half of my study was practice-based, which helps you to discover the realities of working within the Church, with the other half being academic – reading and writing essays and so on. I was in the first cohort of students who studied full-time over two years, as most of the students back then were part-time. I attended evening classes in Canterbury, plus a
number of teaching days which were across the South East, and of course the residential courses. With so many people studying part-time, the Easter residential week at the King’s School in Canterbury was a real plus and helped to build a sense of community. The links with Canterbury and Southwark cathedrals are also special and make it feel real.”
“I’m studying part-time at Southwark. I was previously in a senior management role in the NHS, but I’ve always been active in my local Church. I decided I wanted to study theology at degree level, and originally looked at traditional theology degrees. I really wanted to step outside my comfort zone and do a practical degree! I’m enjoying the combination of academic study and practical application that is encouraged here; it’s a structure that really helps me to flourish. I have considered moving over to the Ordained Ministry pathway, but for now I’m staying where I am. I’ve already achieved a Foundation Degree and will do my dissertation next year for my BA.
“This experience has already changed me. My vicar has noticed and commented on the many ways it has affected me and strengthened my thinking and ability in practical situations and how the course and study has helped to inform practical ministerial application and personal reflection. It is good to have undertaken such relevant and constructive study and training!”