Blog Interview–Peter Cavanna–Mattersey Hall Bible College

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Mattersey Hall Christian College.

My name is Peter Cavanna and I am a full-time lecturer at Mattersey Hall. I teach a number of first year subjects, such as Christian Doctrine and Understanding the Bible, plus preparing second year students for public preaching and Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies on the Christian Leadership track. I spent twenty years in pastoral church leadership prior to taking up this post, as well as being involved in international mission, and seek to combine both theological knowledge and practical coaching in the lecture room. The students alone can judge if I succeed!

2) Tell us a little about Mattersey Hall.

The work of Mattersey Hall was founded, originally in London, in 1909, for the purpose of preparing men and women for Christian ministry. Today, the College offers both Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses, validated by the University of Chester, in Biblical Studies, Christian Leadership and Missional Leadership. There are around one hundred and twenty students attending the College at any one time.

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

Ideally, students will attend the College for three years, full time. This allows them to get the greatest benefit from the theological training, mentoring, spiritual and devotional life on campus, and the various ministry opportunities afforded by the College – both in the local church and on international/cross-cultural mission. However, the courses are flexible enough to allow some students to study part-time (approximately half the week at the campus) or by Distance Learning where these are deemed the best option for the individual. New for 2014 and beyond is the introduction of Short Courses – two to four weeks of intensive training in a particular topic, Monday to Thursday. This allows busy church leaders and workers, for example, the ability to get excellent training without leaving behind their church or family responsibilities for long periods. We’re very excited about this new initiative.

4) How do Mattersey Hall students fund their studies?

Students are funded in a variety of ways. Many obtain student loans for the Undergraduate courses available, while those who have been especially sent to the College to acquire qualifications on behalf of their local church may occasionally find themselves being funded by their leadership or churches.

5) Does Mattersey Hall take students from overseas?

Unfortunately, at this time, it is not possible to attend Mattersey Hall from overseas but the College hopes to be able to offer this again shortly.

6) What type of ministry is Mattersey Hall intended to prepare students for?


The vision of Mattersey Hall is ‘preparing the next generation of Christian leaders.’ As a result of this, the College has a very strong emphasis on leadership and character development, preparing students not just for theological excellence but also for leadership and influence in both the local church and in the modern world. It is still possible to attend Mattersey Hall in order to enrich one’s Bible knowledge and spiritual life, but it is best suited for those who feel a call to serve God in some way, although not necessarily as a pastor or church leader. Our desire for our graduates is that they make a Christ centred contribution to the communities in which they live and work.

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

Many Mattersey students go into direct Christian leadership in local churches, but others serve God in missionary service, youth work and through exerting Christian influence through a variety of secular employment opportunities. Students are encouraged to find their place in God’s will for them.

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

Mattersey Hall has long emphasised its Pentecostal heritage and distinction. Students are encouraged to serve God in the miraculous power of the Spirit in the modern world, and campus life especially reflects charismatic devotion and theology. The issues of handling Pentecostalism within a postmodern society are faced and discussed.

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

The College is currently constructing a brand new Research Centre, housing over fifteen thousand, five hundred books and journals for student use. This will be opened in the summer of 2014. In addition to this, Mattersey Hall is pleased to continue to accommodate the British Pentecostal Archive on campus (accessed by appointment for postgraduates): the Donald Gee Centre.

10) Does Mattersey Hall offer a distance or on-line learning option.

Many of Mattersey Hall’s students are distance learners! This is not the same as a correspondence course as the assignment deadlines are similar to those on campus and the degree bestowed is the same. More details at the website!

Many thanks Peter for taking part in this series.

Blog Interview–Dr Delano Palmer–Jamaica Theological Seminary

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at the Jamaica Theological Seminary (JTS).

My name is Delano Vincent Palmer and I serve as lecturer in biblical studies and theology, as well as deputy president; I also held the post of academic dean (2009-2012).

2)    Tell us a little about the Jamaica Theological Seminary.

The JTS was founded in 1960, two years before Jamaica’s independence, by the late Dr Zenas Gerig [read more on-line here and here].  The college is accredited locally by the University Council of Jamaica, and the Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association. At present we have little over five hundred students on three campuses (Kingston, Mandeville, JA; St Vincent; and St Lucia) pursuing the BA in Theology, Biblical Studies, General Studies, Guidance & Counselling, Social Work, Music & Media, and Social and Professional Transformation degrees; in addition, we also offer a Certificate in Leadership and Ministry as well as a Masters in Public Theology.

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

JTS Board Members Ground Breaking

We offer both part-time and full-time programmes; in a word, all the above.

4)    How do JTS students fund their studies?

We encourage the majority of our local students to sign up with the SBL (Students’ Loan Bureau); a few scholarships are offered and quite a number of students pay their way.

5) Does JTS take students from overseas?

JTS has had an exchange programme with colleges in the USA since the mid-70s. To date we have had students from all over the Caribbean, including Haiti and Cuba, a few from Africa (Ghana, Nigeria), and one from Canada.

5) What type of ministry is JTS intended to prepare students for?

Originally, the college sought to train pastors primarily in keeping with the school’s Motta at the time: That I Might Know Him . . . That I Might Preach Him. The new Motta (That I Might Know Him . . . That I Might Make Him Known), reflects the present vision of the board to include more lay people in an understanding of ministry that envisages the Christian life as a sojourn that may likened to three New Testament roads: 1) the Damascus Road (salvation); 2) the Emmaus Road (sanctification); and 3) the Jericho Road (service).

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

JTS alumna serving in
Nassau as a teacher

Although the majority of our graduates are engaged in the pastorate (and cross-cultural  ministries), in recent times many serve as guidance counsellors, social workers, teachers, et cetera.

8) What is distinctive about what JTS offers compared with other colleges in and overseas?

JTS stands squarely in the evangelical tradition and strongly believes that the gospel must be placed at the cross-roads of every stratum of the human condition—especially as it is mirrored in the Caribbean reality. This concern is reflected  in all our programmes and expressed in  recent symposia, namely, the publication of A Kairos Moment for Caribbean Theology and our involvement in the translation of  the New Testament in the Jamaican language [see video here].

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

Zenas Gerig library

Our Zenas Gerig library holds over  forty-five thousand volumes, inclusive of a special West Indian collection.  JTS, located in the capital, is not far from the libraries of the Universities of the West Indies (UWI) and Technology (U-Tech), as well as that of the United Theological College (UTC).

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

The college supports its satellite campuses (St Vincent; St Lucia) by organising summer-sessions in which  lecturers from the main campus (Kingston) travel to these sites. A limited number of courses is offered online.

My thanks to Dr Palmer for his contribution to this series. The journals Binah and the Caribbean Journal of Evangelical Theology, published by JTS, can be read online here.

Blog Interview – Rev Hector Morrison – Highland Theological College

htc-logo 1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Highland Theological College

Rev Hector Morrison 25Mar14 My name is Hector Morrison. I am Principal at HTC. I also teach some Old Testament modules and do some PG supervision. I am an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland.

2) Tell us a little about HTC.

HTC from crane HTC, situated in Dingwall in the north of Scotland, has been in existence since 1994 and is one of 13 autonomous Academic Partner colleges which constitute the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI). HTC offers courses in theological studies at every level from Access, through BA (Hons) and MTh, to PhD. Our main programme is the BA (Hons) with over 100 students; we have 30 on the Access Course, 10-15 doing PhD at any one time, and a small number on the MTh. HTC also functions as a local access point for other degree programmes delivered by the university.

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

All our programmes are available FT, most are also available PT. They’re very flexible so that students can fit their studies around other commitments.

4) How do HTC students fund their studies?

graduation 2013 Being part of a university, eligible Scottish students will have their fees paid by the Scottish Government, while eligible RUK students should be able to access student loans. Eligible Access students receive bursaries. Part-scholarships may be available for some postgraduate students.

5) Does HTC take students from overseas?

Our BA (Hons) programme is now validated for international delivery and we have a small number of overseas students. There is a higher percentage of overseas students on our MTh, while many of our PhD students are American.

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

morning worship We aim to equip students to think biblically and theologically, giving them an all-round theological education that will prepare them well for a whole variety of ministries, or for life in general. Students interested in a particular area of ministry (e.g., pastoral ministry, missions, counselling, etc) can choose appropriate modules and placements according to their interests. HTC is non-denominational, with staff and students from a variety of denominations. We are an accredited training centre for a number of Scottish denominations including the Church of Scotland.

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

A growing number of our graduates go into pastoral or other church-related ministry, others become RME teachers, or go into missionary work, or move on to other areas of work better equipped to understand their context theologically and to help out in their local fellowships. A number of our PhD graduates teach theology in seminaries or universities in a variety of countries.

8) What is distinctive about what HTC offers compared with other colleges in Scotland and overseas?

VC Classroom While we insist that students need to be exposed to a wide spectrum of theological viewpoints HTC does have an evangelical and also reformed ethos. Being a part of UHI, we are at the leading edge of the use of video-conferencing, with students able to access our teaching from many college and learning centre locations throughout the Highlands and Islands, but also from their own homes. We are also accredited to deliver internationally. HTC is in the privileged position of being an autonomous evangelical college within a Scottish university.

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

We have a well-endowed library of over 65,000 volumes, and many digital resources available through UHI. Our library contains a number of special collections (e.g., Migne’s Patralogia, Calvin Collection, etc.) which are of particular interest to research students.

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

students in library All our courses are available on campus but distance or online learning options are of key importance for HTC and contribute to the flexibility of our courses. Our Access Course is available in distance learning mode. Our BA is also available in ‘blended learning’ mode, with students living at a distance from the college (e.g., Central Belt, England, Europe) able to take part in the classroom discussions from their own homes (assuming a reasonable internet connection). All lectures are video recorded and made available on the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) for revision, or for those working during the day to catch up on at their leisure. Many resources are also made available electronically on the VLE, or through the university’s electronic resources.

My thanks to Revd Morrison for taking part in this series.