Amy White: teaching lay leaders the Bible
As independent student Amy White completes a dissertation for Trinity this spring on spiritual abuse, she remembers what first brought her to theological college. She had begun attending a Bible school and realised just how much she wanted to study and teach theology. ‘I discovered it was possible to be called to teach the Bible to adults, and I thought, “I want to do that!”‘
Because Amy was very involved in her Bristol church, at first she looked into online programme options in the US. But her sister recommended she consider Trinity.
Amy attended an Open Day, and ended up spending 45 minutes with one of Trinity’s tutors, who not only helped her feel more comfortable thinking of coming to a college where she didn’t know anyone, but also encouraged her to consider full-time study, rather than studying part time whilst managing full-time work.
“I had no idea how I would do this financially,” she says. “A friend and mentor told me to write down all the things that would need to happen in order to study full time, and all the pros and cons of full- and part-time study. Doing that made me realise that full-time study was possible if a couple things came through.”
All of Trinity’s full-time independent students (those students not preparing for ordination in the Church of England) in need of financial help benefit from tuition fee reduction through Trinity’s bursary fund. Amy was also able to work part time in Trinity’s conference department, whilst her husband maintained his full-time work.
‘My time at Trinity has probably been the best three years of my life. I’ve learned the value of having my carefully constructed systems of belief disrupted by new ways of thinking. You don’t have to have everything figured out. My faith is not supposed to be in a formula of neat and tidy answers. It’s about following Jesus and putting my faith in him as he leads me, wherever that might be. My personality likes to have boxes ticked and everything clearly spelled out, so studying theology has really challenged me. There are still so many things to learn and so many things I am yet to understand, but that encourages me to keep studying. Studying theology teaches you humility—you need to continue to read and to dialogue with others, including those you disagree with. At Trinity my theological constructs have been dismantled, but then reconstructed—and in a community where there is a clear love for God and Scripture.’
After completing first the Graduate Diploma and now the MA, Amy is currently preparing to leave Trinity this summer to become Lay Training Officer for Blackburn Diocese, developing and delivering training that will equip lay leaders in local churches. ‘As they are supported, congregations will also be well supported through their ministries, and in that way we can help build up the body of Christ.’ She hopes to complete her doctoral studies on Johannine leadership theology alongside her new role.