Blog Interview – Dr Mike Bird – Ridley Melbourne Mission and Ministry College

logo This week I am interviewing Dr Michael Bird about Ridley Melbourne Mission and Ministry College.

Please introduce yourself and your role at Ridley College.

I’m Michael Bird and I teach Theology and New Testament at Ridley Melbourne Mission and Ministry College. I’m also the postgraduate coordinator for postgraduate research degrees.

Tell us a little about Ridley College.

Ridley is over a 100 years old and was founded as a place for training evangelical Anglican clergy. In more recent decades, it has also trained people from all sorts of denominations for a variety of ministries and missions in Australia and internationally. It has around 200+ students studying various degrees in theology such as Bachelor of Ministry, Bachelor of Theology, Master of Divinity, Masters of Arts in Theology, as well as Th.D and Ph.D.

Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

Yes, FT and PT. We also have a gucci distance learning program with a web-based learning suite called “The Ridley Certificate.” Coming soon also is our full integrated distance learning degree on a platform called “eRidley” where you’ll be able to do B.Th, B.Min, and M.Div on-line. I’m currently working on segments of eRidley. As more and more students move to studying on-line, or split between on-campus and on-line attendance, Ridley is set to provide flexible yet robust teaching and learning in theology.

How do Ridley College students fund their studies?

lecture_w_960 Most students are able to access student loans with “Fee Help” from the Australian Government to pay for their degree and get financial assistance from Centerlink to sustain them for the course of their studies.

Does Ridley College take students from overseas?

Yes, we have several students from overseas studying with us, in undergrad and postgrad. We also a lot of former asylum seekers from Sudan and Burma also studying with us too!

When students leave Ridley College what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into.

e-ridley_w_297 It is so varied that it is impossible to say. Many go into Anglican ministry, pastoral ministry with other churches, many go into overseas missions work, many become school chaplains, and others simply return to the work force to be more informed about their faith in secular employment.

What is distinctive about what Ridley College offers compared with other colleges in the UK and overseas?

Ridley has a number of distinctives including (1) Learning as a way of life; (2) Formation of character into Christ-likeness; (3) Community as the context for theological formation and spiritual devotion; and (4) Mission and ministry as the goal of theological education.

Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

ridley_library_final_w_0101 We have The Leon Morris Library with a great collection of books, excellent array of journals, and some of the nicest librarians you’ll ever meet. Located as we are in Parkville in Melbourne, we are close to the CBD, Melbourne Zoo, Uni of Melbourne, and a great array of cafés to hang out with students.

My thanks to Michael Bird for his helpful contribution to this series.

Blog Interview – Dr Stan Fowler – Heritage College & Seminary, Canada

logo My thanks to Dr Stan Fowler who has agreed to be interviewed about Heritage College & Seminary in Canada.

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Heritage College & Seminary.

Dr. Fowler My name is Stan Fowler, and I serve as Professor of Theological Studies.  I have also served as academic dean of the seminary in the past.

2) Tell us a little about Heritage College & Seminary.

Heritage College & Seminary is the public name of Heritage Baptist College and Heritage Theological Seminary (now you understand the shortened name!). Heritage began in 1993 as a merger of two Baptist schools in Ontario, and we are affiliated with the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada. We offer various theological certificates and degrees at both bachelor’s and master’s levels. We have about 300 students.

3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

We have a mixture of full-time and part-time students. A majority of college students are full-time, but the majority of seminary students are part-time, often second-career students.

4) How do Heritage College & Seminary students fund their studies?

Buildings Landscape Students fund their studies out of their own or their parents’ resources. We have a limited number of bursaries and scholarships that provide assistance, and many students qualify for educational loans from a provincial agency. Some students are supported by their churches, and we hope that more churches will catch the vision for that.

5) Does Heritage College & Seminary take students from overseas?

Yes, we have some students from overseas. The number is not large, but in recent years the seminary has had students from Japan, India, and Brazil.

6) What type of ministry is Heritage College & Seminary intended to prepare students for?

All of our degree programs are oriented to preparation for vocational ministry as pastors, missionaries, worship and music leaders, or workers in Christian social service agencies. But some of our college students are preparing to go on to university, and we have many students in various programs who want to minister in non-vocational ways. We believe that theological education is valuable for the whole family of God.

7) When students leave Heritage College & Seminary what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into.

Most of our degree graduates enter some form of vocational ministry. Many of our college graduates begin ministry in associate pastoral roles like youth ministry and continue their education at seminary level part-time, later moving into lead pastor roles.

8) What is distinctive about what Heritage College & Seminary offers compared with other colleges in Canada and overseas?

Heritage Aerial 1 It is hard to describe distinctives, because there is so much commonality in what Bible colleges and seminaries do. I would say that our faculty is strongly committed to scholarship in service of the church—we refuse to drive a wedge between theory and practice. We are also strongly committed to the equipping of pastors who will preach the Word with accuracy, clarity and relevance, as seen in our brand new Graduate Certificate in Biblical Preaching. Our college has a highly regarded program in music and worship studies leading to both certificates and a Bachelor of Church Music degree.

9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

We have a fully functional library with access to both print and online resources, and students have access to several other theological libraries within an hour’s drive of our campus.

10) Does Heritage College & Seminary offer a distance or on-line learning option. If yes, please tell us more about it.

Yes, we have some distance learning options available. Our college provides several courses with lectures on DVD, and online courses are in preparation. The seminary provides several courses each year in a multi-modal (hybrid) format that combines two days on campus during the term with online experience (including audio lectures) during most weeks. By using audio recordings of class days, several of these are available to be done fully online. We recognize that we must continue to find creative ways to educate students at a distance.

My thanks to Dr Fowler for taking part in this series. The Baptist Review of Theology, a journal formerly published by Heritage College & Seminary is available on-line here.

Blog Interview – Simon Marshall MA – Tilsley College, Motherwell, Scotland

New Logo small This week we are “travelling” to Scotland to speak with Simon Marshall who is going to tell us about Tilsley College in Motherwell.

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Tilsley College.

Simon My name is Simon Marshall and I lecture in Biblical Studies and Christian Ministry and am responsible for the college’s diploma course, a ministry apprenticeship scheme.

2) Tell us a little about Tilsley College.

Tilsley College was founded in 1975 as the training arm of Gospel Literature Outreach. We are a small college that takes up to 15 or so students for our one year CertHE course in Biblical Studies and Christian Ministry.  Our second year diploma course is a church-based apprenticeship scheme with block weeks of teaching at the college spread throughout the academic year.
We run two ‘gap year’ options as well. One of these “First Serve” is run in conjunction with a mission organisation and involves a few weeks at the college followed by time spent in a church in the UK and a cross-cultural mission environment. We also offer a three month introduction to biblical studies along with a TEFL qualification which can then be used in teaching English abroad.
We also offer evening courses at the college and in other centres throughout the UK in what is called the Joshua Project. With our college-based courses and the evening classes, we have about 75 students in total.

3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

Students The CertHE and Diploma courses can be taken as either full- or part-time. The evening classes are part time.

4) How do Tilsley College students fund their studies?

Our students fund their studies themselves, perhaps raising some support from their home church and friends and family.

5) Does Tilsley College take students from overseas?

We regularly take students from the EU for our year-long courses. Non-EU students have taken our Gap Year options and can study some of the modules of the Certificate and Diploma courses as part of on-going personal and professional development. We are only accredited to access the 6-month maximum visitors’ study visa..

6) What type of ministry is Tilsley College intended to prepare students for?

Building Our training started as training specifically for work in mission, especially in church planting in Europe. We continue to have a strong mission orientation in our courses. The full-time training, though, is aimed at preparing people for serving God both in this country and abroad, whether full-time or part time. Our evening classes are aimed at training Christians unable to take time off work for studies to be more effective in their local fellowships, whether as leaders or not.

7) When students leave Tilsley College what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into.

About 50% of our full course graduates have gone on to full-time Christian service both in the UK and abroad, working as pastors, church planters, youth workers or similar. Many others have gone into secular employment and use their training as lay leaders in their local church.

8) What is distinctive about what Tilsley College offers compared with other colleges in the UK and overseas?

We stress the importance of community to theological training, and, being a small residential college, allows us to build a close family relationship with all our students. We also stress the importance of hands-on application of learning, so students have practical, church-based and mission-based ministry placements. Our origins within a mission organisation and our continued emphasis on mission includes a 10 day trip to spend time in a church planting situation in Europe where students gain firsthand experience of mission work, something which is then built upon in their four week field placement in the Spring.

9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

library We have a well-stocked library for the size of college whose stock is continually updated. Students have internet access from the library and throughout the college.

10) Does Tilsley College offer a distance or on-line learning option. If yes, please tell us more about it.

At the moment, we have no on-line learning options but are planning on offering this in the near future. Our courses are put together in such a way that while full distance learning is not really possible, students can attend for block weeks of teaching on

Many thanks Simon