#3: Our ordinands have an option to pursue a research programme (MTh or PhD) as part of their ordination training.
Trinity ordinand Anna Creedon was teaching religious studies in a secondary school near Southampton when she suddenly had a sense that God might be calling her to ordained ministry. As she began her discernment process, she wanted to remain completely open to whatever God might be calling her to do, but, she explains, as she had already earned a master’s degree in education, ‘I knew I’d want to do something above the MA if I could’. Through the discernment process, Anna was identified as a potential theological educator. Her DDO, who had himself completed doctoral studies, took note of her interest and helped her follow up to consider what her options might be.
When she arrived at Trinity on interview a year ago, she discovered that if she enrolled in the MTh programme she could potentially transition into doctoral studies. Now at the end of her first year as an ordinand at Trinity, Anna has audited classes in worship, pastoral care, leadership, and Old Testament studies, as well as a few classes particularly relevant to the research she is currently conducting on scriptural engagement and its transformative potential within small groups.
Fellow ordinand Alison Walker has always enjoyed learning. As a chemistry undergraduate at Oxford, she discovered that rigorous study pointed her toward God. At Trinity, she found again that as she began to study theology, she soon wanted to explore it at a deeper level. ‘People are formed in different ways,’ she says. ‘I can’t separate my worship of God from my study of him.’ Though initially she was simply pursuing the master’s programme at Trinity, after she attended her first doctrine module, the discussion-based ‘Saving God’ class with Tutor in Theology and Ethics Rev Dr Jon Coutts, she began additional reading on her own. Over the summer, Jon pointed her toward The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, by Yale University Professor Dr Willie James Jennings. ‘I had never read theology word for word like that,’ she explains. ‘I devoured it. Then, in my second year, I hit the MA running. I knew I had only a year to come up with a research topic for the PhD.’
Alison will continue in her doctoral studies through her curacy, with the blessing of her sending diocese. ‘Hereford Diocese has been really supportive—that’s been key. Rather than creating a barrier, they have been very encouraging and flexible about study arrangements in curacy. They want people theologically educated to a good standard. They are already thinking about how I can provide teaching for the training opportunities they offer.’