In 1959, the Bishop of Southwark was struck with an unusual and (at the time) controversial idea.
He envisioned a new approach to ministerial formation where men (as it was then) could study for ordination without leaving behind their daily lives and working communities.
The bishop recognised that making potential ordinands live in colleges, in the style of their monastic spiritual predecessors, had become a barrier to some being called to ministry.
Non-residential ordination training
By establishing St Augustine’s College of Theology (although the institute wasn’t yet known under this name), the bishop enabled students to study theology and learn the practices of ministry whilst they remained happily embedded in their local contexts.
Known at the time as the Southwark Ordination Course (SOC), the institute provided hundreds of students with the means to undertake ordination training without leaving their secular lives behind.
At the time, this was a pretty radical idea – but it was one that would soon prove very popular with a new generation of ordinands.
Establishing a legacy of contextually rich formation
SOC helped its students make the vital connections between academic learning and ministry, theology and practice. Students developed a strong appreciation for knowledge, which was embedded in their ministerial education from the very beginning.
Non-residential colleges like SOC offered students a theological education that was distinctive but equally as thorough as their residential counterparts.
That legacy of the embedded, contextual formation is still integral to our approach as a college today.
Find out more about your formation as a St Augustine’s student.