Continuing my occasional series of interviews with faculty members of Bible Colleges and Seminaries around the Globe, today I am speaking with Dr David Hilborn.
1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Moorlands College.
Converted at 15 and from a non-Christian home, I was nurtured in a United Reformed Church in north Kent. At university in Nottingham I sensed a call to leadership and tested that in youth work in south London and on mission in north Africa. Ordination training in Oxford, three church ministries and a PhD later, I was asked to develop the theological work of the Evangelical Alliance UK, working there as Head of Theology for nine years and publishing several books. I joined the Church of England in 2002 and started full-time work as a theological educator in that context, first helping to set up St Mellitus College, then leading St John’s College, Nottingham, serving on the CofE’s Faith and Order Commission and pioneering Anglican-Pentecostal dialogue. In late 2018 I was appointed Principal of Moorlands College and have been here for just over year now.
As Principal I lead and oversee the day-to-day the work of Moorlands and am chiefly
responsible for developing its vision and mission. In that capacity I work closely with an excellent Senior Management Team and wonderfully dedicated staff.
2) Tell us a little about Moorlands College
Moorlands’ vision is to equip people, passionate about Jesus Christ, to impact the church and the world. Our mission is defined by Isaiah 54:2, which speaks of lengthening the cords and strengthening the stakes of God’s tent. With these commitments in mind, we currently train over 600 students on a variety of programmes, from informal evening classes and training partnerships through Foundation Year and BA courses to Masters degrees. All our curricula reflect our commitment to ‘Christian Theology Applied’, and we define our ethos as an
integration of spiritual, practical, academic and relational formation.
Our main campus is at Christchurch in Dorset; we also have teaching centres in Birmingham and Torquay, and we are starting a new centre in Belfast in September. We partner with South West Youth Ministries at the Torquay centre and will run our Belfast programme in conjunction with Youth Link NI. We also partner with Wycliffe Bible Translators on an MA in Language, Community and Development.
3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?
The Foundation Year and BA are full-time. The BA can be pursued through residential or
placement-based routes at Christchurch, and through placement-based training at our other centres. The Masters courses are part-time and are delivered through intensive study blocks at Christchurch.
4) How do Moorlands College students fund their studies, and do you take students from overseas?
We have scored consistently well in the National Student Survey, regularly gaining ratings of 90%+ in different categories, and overall. Historically we have trained students from all over the world; for visa reasons the overseas students who train with us now tend come from the EU, but we still have a good number of folk with family roots and/connections in the two-thirds world. The majority of our undergraduate students and some of our MA students receive student loans; others are supported by their churches, or are self-funding. We also have a bursary scheme for those facing hardship.
5) What type of ministry is Moorlands College intended to prepare students for?
We were founded in 1948 by a Brethren evangelist, David Clifford, to train evangelists,
pastors and youth ministers. Those vocations still define many students’ trajectories, but we are committed to forming the whole people of God for effective and fruitful ministry, and welcome applications from all committed to the vision described above.
8) What is distinctive about what Moorlands College offers compared with other colleges in the UK and overseas?
Everything we do is intentionally grounded in and informed by missional practice – hence our strap-line of ‘Christian Theology Applied’. At Christchurch we embody this in a unique 5-week ‘Block Placement’ that all second and third-year BA students undertake in the middle of the academic year. At our other centres, students are on placement all year round, and our curriculum is intentionally oriented to reflection on that placement experience.
9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities
Our excellent Christchurch library has over 40,000 volumes and a wide variety of journals and periodicals. There are libraries at our Birmingham, Torquay and Belfast centres, too, and our learning resource base is being extended rapidly through e-books and online journals.
10) Does Moorlands College offer a distance or online learning option? If yes, please tell us more about it
There is no distance learning option at present, but we are developing something more
integrated and holistic – namely blended learning, which is a creative combination of online and ‘bricks and mortar’ learning. A new post is being created to drive this forward, and funding is being raised to support the enhanced technology it will require. Exciting times!