Blog Interview: Revd Dr Simon Vibert of Wycliffe Hall

Last year I hosted a series of interviews with Faculty members of a number of Bible Colleges and Seminaries around the Globe. This series will continue on an occasional basis. This week I interview the Vice-Principal of Wycliffe Hall in Oxford.

I would like to note that Wycliffe Hall has given great support to the work of Theology on the Web by making resources from its library available for digitisation, for which I am extremely grateful.

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Wycliffe Hall.

Revd Dr Simon Vibert, Vice-Principal of Wycliffe Hall Oxford
Revd Dr Simon Vibert

I am Revd Dr Simon Vibert, Vice Principal Wycliffe Hall, Oxford; Tutor in Homiletics and Leadership.

2) Tell us a little about Wycliffe Hall.

Wycliffe Hall, OxfordWycliffe Hall was founded in 1877 to provide a Protestant response to the growing tractarian influence in Oxford. One of the founders, JC Ryle, was later to become Bishop of Liverpool. Key evangelical leaders such as Frank Chavasse, Griffith Thomas, J.I. Packer, N.T. Wright and Nicky Gumbel have all also been associated with the Hall. During the Principalship of Prof. Alister McGrath Wycliffe Hall became a permanent private Hall of the University of Oxford (in 1996). Our total student body is 140. Fifty students are training for Ordination in the Church of England, others are part of the Apologetics track, training for ministry in other denominations or engaged in research. Most students are part of the University of Oxford on a range of courses from Certificate to Doctoral level. A small number of our Students are studying for the Durham Common Award in preparation for Anglican Ordination. See for more detail.

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

Wycliffe Hall, Oxford
Wycliffe Hall, Oxford

Wycliffe Hall is primarily a full-time residential community – an environment which we believe gives the best context for academic, ministerial and formational training. After all, Jesus trained the 12 by living with them as well as teaching them. We have a small cohort of Mixed Mode students (half time in the Hall and half time training in a parish) and a part-time evening course leading to a Certificate in Theological Studies over two years.

4) How do Wycliffe Hall students fund their studies?

Anglican Ordinands receive funding from the Church of England. Some are able to access HEFCE funding. We have very little endowment and, like most similar institutions, we depend on the generosity of alumni, churches and friends to supplement student fee income.

5) Does Wycliffe Hall take students from overseas?

Yes. If enrolled on a University Course, it is possible to apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa.

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

Wycliffe Hall, OxfordThe founders of Wycliffe Hall envisioned training Protestant Men for Ordination in the Church of England. Today, Wycliffe Hall trains men and women for all spheres of ministry across a variety of denominations, although with a particular Anglican flavour. We emphasise Leadership, Evangelism and Church Growth, Preaching and Apologetics which all require grounding in traditional disciplines (Biblical Studies, Doctrine, Church history etc.) alongside time and space to grow in personal holiness, disciplined prayer and practical ministry training.

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

For some, their time at Wycliffe Hall is preparation for Anglican Ordination; others are training for a variety of lay or ordained ministry. For others, this is the pathway to further research and/or a career in Seminary/Bible College.

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

Wycliffe Hall has a privileged relationship with the University of Oxford. We are guided by an evangelical Trust Deed which means that the Hall provides a home for evangelical students to experience the rigour of the University of Oxford within a worshipping Christian Community. Our vision for Wycliffe Hall is that we should be:

• A Centre for the Intellectual Renewal of the Church, and, through the Church, of Society

• A Centre for the Renewal of Christian Preaching

• A Centre for the Renewal of Christian Character

• A Centre for the Renewal of Christian Prayer

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

Our own library has 24,000 books and journals key journals in our field. All Oxford University students can use the University Libraries including the Bodleian and access to 300,000 e-books via SOLO.

10) Does Wycliffe Hall offer a distance or on-line learning option?

Wycliffe Hall prizes the value of a residential/communal learning and has not offered distance or online learning.

My thanks to Dr Vibert for his contribution to this series.

Blog Interview: Dr Peter Mead – Cor Deo

In the last of the current series I interview Dr Peter Mead one of the leaders of Cor Deo.

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Cor Deo.

Dr Peter Mead (second from left) is the subject of this week's blog interview
Ron Frost, Peter Mead, David Searight
& Mike Chalmers

I am a mentor at Cor Deo, a deliberately small mentored training programme based in Chippenham, southern England.  I am also part of the leadership of a local church plant, and leader of the Bible Teacher’s Networks at the European Leadership Forum.

2) Tell us a little about Cor Deo.

Along with Dr Ron Frost, I started Cor Deo several years ago.  We saw a need for a more relationally enriched training approach that would allow participants to be part of a team that can study together, serve together and grow together.  We offer a six-month full-time training programme, one-week Intensive courses and are now in the process of launching a follow-up programme to help past participants go further in their studies and ministry.  Our training blends lots of biblical studies, history in the context of church history and applied theology in all aspects of pastoral ministry.  We have only six spaces available each year for the full-time programme, believing that we would rather pursue a multiplicational approach to training, where we hope to go deeper with a few participants, rather than simply trying to get bigger numbers in to the course.

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

The main six-month course is full-time.  The Intensives last just one week.  The new follow-up programme for past participants will be a modular study programme that is part-time and flexible.

4) How do Cor Deo students fund their studies?

We do not charge a fee for participation.  Instead we suggest a donation amount, thereby meaning that financial limitations do not restrict potential participants.  As far as living during the six months, some have lived off savings, others have been supported, others have been given an extended study leave from employment.  Six months is much more manageable than 2-4 years of full-time study!

5) Does Cor Deo take students from overseas?

We can if they are from the EU, but we are not in a position to help people get visas.  If someone can legitimately be in the UK for the necessary time, then we would gladly take them.

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

We want to prepare people to go on to serve in their own church, either as pastoral staff, or as lay leaders within the church.  We want to prepare missionaries for further and greater service overseas.  We want to prepare people to go on to further academic theological studies so that they can thrive in that environment.  Our goal is to multiply ministry that shares God’s heart.

7) When students leave Cor Deo what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into?

We have seen past participants go on to all of these next steps: senior pastor, church elder, student ministry, church youth work, overseas missionary, student in further training, as well as people heading back into “secular” work with a missional mindset.

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

Cor Deo offers a uniquely integrated programme of study.  All the mentors are present for every subject area. Participants get full life-on-life access to the mentors, with the option of travelling together for ministry, local ministry exposure, mentoring in their own context, etc.  The programme is focused on exposing participants to biblical study as well as a history of spiritual traditions that gives a framework for understanding contemporary Christian spirituality.  We do not have either a carrot or a stick – that is, there is no certificate at the end of the six month course, and there is no academic pressure to get there, instead there is a shared confidence that the God of the Bible is worth pursuing in fellowship with the team.  Cor Deo is a unique opportunity for personal, theological, spiritual and ministerial growth.

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

Cor Deo has a small, but focused collection of reference materials that is available to participants.

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

No, we believe in the importance of face-to-face interaction.  It is in community and in relationship that growth and learning best occur.  There are many good sources of information transfer available, but the opportunity to be part of a group like this is sadly too rare.

My thanks to Peter Mead for taking part in this series. If I get any more entries I will re-start the series in October.

Blog Interview – Dr Ezra Kok – Seminari Theoloji Malaysia

1) Please tell us about yourself and your role in STM.

Hello! My name is Rev Dr Ezra Kok, the Principal of Seminari Theoloji Malaysia (STM). I am also a lecturer in New Testament studies.

2) Can you tell us more about the history of STM?

STM came into existence as a joint Anglican, Evangelical Lutheran and Methodist venture on the 6 January 1979. For Anglicans and Evangelical Lutherans this marked a further stage in their co-operation in theological education in Malaysia, which had earlier included the Christian Training Centre and Kolej Theoloji Malaysia. Since then, we still holding onto our vision and is thankful to for the many contributions people have made towards the growth and development of STM. The journey of STM began at the ELCM premises at Brickfields (1979-April 1983). Since then, we have moved to the Methodist High School premise in Sentul (June 1983-1991) and from Sentul, we moved to Xavier Hall in Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya (1992-1997). For nearly twenty years, STM was nomadic. Finally, in 1998 we shifted to our permanent campus at Seremban in time for the new academic year. During our short history the total number of graduands has exceeded 700 and they are serving in different parts of Malaysia and beyond. Our faculty has increased in qualifications and experience, and we are glad to see that the supporting churches are taking steps to prepare suitably qualified ministers for teaching in the seminary.

3) What courses does STM offer?

We offer undergraduate to postgraduate programs. In the undergraduate programs, a student can pursue the Diploma of Ministry (DipCM), Bachelor of Theology (BTh), Diploma of Theology (DipTh), Bachelor of Divinity (BD), Graduate Diploma of Christian Studies (GradDipCS), Master of Christian Studies (MCS), and Master of Divinity (MDiv).

For the postgraduate programs, a student can pursue the Master of Ministry (MMin) and Doctor of Ministry (DMin) for the professional track and the Master of Theology (MTh) and Doctor of Theology (DTheol) for the research track. (The DTheol is offered through ATU)  We have also courses for the laypeople in the form of Theological Education for Extension (TEE) programs like GradDipCS and MCS for graduates and DipCM and BTh for undergraduates.

4) How do students fund their studies at STM?

The majority of our students come through the recommendation of the different denominational churches and are mainly supported through the conference’s or synod’s scholarships. We also have students who are supported by local individual churches as well as some students on self sponsorship. Click for more information.

5) Does STM take in foreign students?

In the past, foreign students constituted almost 30% of the student population in STM. In recent years, however, we have encountered some problems procuring student visas for our foreign students. However, foreign students can still study in the postgraduate programs on a part-time basis.

6) What type of ministry does STM prepare students for?

We prepare students mainly for the denominational churches that are our founding and partner churches namely, the Methodist Church in Malaysia, the Anglican Diocese of West Malaysia, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malaysia, the Lutheran Church of Malaysia, and the Presbyterian Church of Malaysia. The majority of our students enter the ordained ministry of those churches although there are many who also opt for a variety of careers in education, mission organizations, community work, and other church-based ministries.

7) What is distinctive about what STM offers compared with other seminaries in the region?

There are some distinctives about what STM has to offer. Firstly, we have a faculty that is almost 100% local lecturers. Many of them hold a doctorate in their areas of specialization. Secondly, we offer modules on religions and faiths that are part of our unique Malaysian heritage. Thirdly, we are constantly wrestling with the issues of contextualization and indigenization of the Gospel in our multi-pluralistic and multi-cultural settings. Fourthly, our library holdings is one of the best in the region for theological and biblical research and study.

8) Can you tell us something about the library and research facilities?

The Library currently holds approximately 50,000 titles in the various collections, and receives about 250 current journals and periodicals. We also have a reasonable collection of multimedia and audiovisual materials, as well as microfiche. Our archives contain works on Malaysian church history and we are very keen to acquire additional materials to further expand our collection. To keep up with advances in information technology and knowledge management, the catalogue and library management system were fully automated in 2000 and Internet research facilities have been made available. As STM continues to develop and expand its community and programmes, the Library plans to similarly develop and expand by increasing its holdings and improving its facilities in order to offer up-to-date resources as well as a conducive environment for research.

9) Does STM offer distance learning or elearning?

Our main distance learning programs are currently the TEE program located in various centers in Malaysia namely, Seremban, Petaling Jaya (CTEE in Luther House), and in Kuching (housed in Trinity Methodist Church). The TEE program is conducted in four languages namely, English, Chinese, Tamil, and Bahasa Malaysia. We have also other theological centers working closely with STM where their students graduate with a STM certification. These centers are the Ipoh Theological Center (ITC), SiYuan Theological Center in Sitiawan, and the Sekolah Alkitab Malaysia (SAM) in Penang. We are also in the process of monitoring our first overseas center at Lay Academy for Ministry and Missions (LAMM) at Melbourne, which belongs to the Chinese Methodist Church in Australia.
We will be slowly working on other forms of elearning as the need arises.—

My thanks to Dr Kok for taking part in this series.