Tim is an ordinand studying full-time at Trinity House, Southwark, St Augustine’s College of Theology. We asked him to tell us a bit about himself, and what being a student here means to him.
I’m originally from Northern Ireland. Most of my jobs since leaving school have been in youth and community work, in a church. I studied community development at university, studying community work and working in housing estates in Belfast. After graduating, I got itchy feet and got a job in youth work in an Anglican church in the Netherlands. At that time I knew I wanted to keep working for the Cof E but without any sense of calling. Later, I got a similar job in youth work in North London.
I never really thought I was cut from vicar cloth – I suppose I had a stereotypical mind view of who a vicar was. But conversations I had with a vicar in North London, and the diversity of the people I came across at vocation information evenings, showed me a different picture.
Why St Augustine’s College of Theology
During the discernment process and conversations with the DDO about the potential pathway for me, I decided I didn’t want to do residential training, and wanted to stay in North London.
I happened to meet one of the lecturers at St Augustine’s College of Theology at a dinner, and got an idea of the open-mindedness and generosity of the college, which inspired confidence. I went along to the open evening and it ticked all the boxes for me.
The full-time pathway has worked really well for me. I didn’t want to remove myself from day to day life in London away from regular church life, and it has the balance right for people who like me who want to throw themselves into full time theological study. It’s allowed me to study four days a week with a broad reading of theology which has been really rewarding, especially as I hadn’t studied theology before.
The size and dynamics of the college work really well, too. The staff are all very professional, but at the same time there’s no feeling of remoteness – they’re all really approachable.
I’ve found the amount of time I have with people in class, together with the regular residential weekends, allows me to get close to other students as well as maintaining my church community feeling.
How is your course helping to shape your leadership?
There’s a good balance between study and real life experience within a parish church.
Probably the most formational experience for me (my background was quite an evangelical tradition, then liberal) has been to realise all the different traditions that exist in the one church.
Study and critical reflection have helped me to bring clarity to what I believe, what’s valuable from various traditions and how that can be applied in the current context.
The placements have been great. Last summer I had an opportunity to work in a hospital and to shadow chaplains. Seeing the skill they use every day with people who are seriously ill and dying was a humbling experience.
I’ll be going to Wakefield Cathedral for my curacy. I’m hugely excited about working in a cathedral, as well as getting experience in the community in the North of England.
I’m pretty open-minded about where I work in future, but I know I’d like to work in parish ministry, probably in a parish that serves people from disadvantaged communities.