Foundations for Ministry course
Foundations for Ministry is a part-time course of 27 sessions over three terms. It is made up of people from different parishes all over the Diocese of Chester and is designed to help people find and grow in the ministry to which God is calling them.
The Enrolment Day for 2013 will be in September. Application forms are available from Church House (see below) and the deadline for applications is 31 July 2013. There is a cost for this course.
What the course is really like
Andrew Knight now an ordinand at St John's College, Nottingham did the FfM course in 2011-12. These are his thoughts on the course:
A Journey of Discernment
Whilst working as a commercial manager in a scientific research company I was feeling increasingly called by God to explore moving careers to some form of fulltime Christian ministry? With much prayer and encouragement from Christian friends and colleges I plucked up the courage to approach our Diocesan Director of Ordinands who first introduced me to the Foundations for Ministry course. Initially the course was a means by which to further explore vocation and discern God’s calling on my life, and to do so alongside others with whom I could share experiences, encouragement, prayer and fellowship.
I was inspired by the diverse range of backgrounds, life experiences, spiritual journeys, gifts and churchmanship of my fellow course members, all drawn together with a common desire to serve the Lord more fully in our particular ministries. Throughout the course it was a joy to discover how God inspired and enabled each one of us, to either develop and grow existing ministries or embark on a whole new direction. The course leaders were amazingly supportive and sensitive throughout the whole process. The course was also richly blessed with expert and inspiring input from the tutors, all three of our bishops, various guest facilitators and leaders of pioneering fresh expression churches.
With the helpful teaching, exercises and reflections, throughout the course my discernment of vocation crystallised and was finally confirmed as I successfully came through a Bishops Advisory Panel. Hence as I began to look towards further training in the coming years the Foundations for Ministry course was hugely valuable as it built upon my understanding of the theology of the Kingdom of God, mission and evangelism, practical ministry in a post-modern society and the rich history and eccentricities of the Anglican Church. The course also helped my existing lay teaching and preaching ministries within my parish church, broadened my reading and access to resources, developed the practice of theological reflection and grew my daily prayer life.
Before the course commenced I had no formal theological education and wondered if this may be a stumbling block? However, I found the written work engaging, stimulating and challenging allowing exploration of the taught material in a depth and direction relevant to me, whilst being eminently achievable under the expert guidance and support of the course leaders. It certainly gave me the confidence and practical study skills to go on to further theological education.
So here I am now at St John’s College Nottingham, in fulltime training for ordained ministry, and feeling that the course was indeed aptly named as a ‘Foundation’ for Ministry, the stone upon which I am now building in my education, training and practical ministry.
I would hugely recommend the Foundations for Ministry course to anyone wishing to enrich and broaden their own ministry and to explore where God may be leading them in new directions.
If you would like to apply contact Pauline Hayward at Church House 01244 681973 ext 229 or email: Pauline Hayward
Who the course is for
Foundations is for a variety of lay people who want to serve God in the church and in the world. People go on Foundations for Ministry to support many different kinds of Christian ministry. People have gone on from Foundations to develop ministry in:
- Serving God at their place of work, in the family, in the community
- Roles within the church (children’s work, youth work, music ministry, churchwardens, PCC members, pastoral work, administrative work and more)
- Ordained ministry
- Licensed lay ministry (Readers, Pastoral Workers, Parish Nurse, Church Army and more).
The course is open to anyone who wants to grow and develop in Christian ministry. It is not a basics course, so it is expected that you have some background in Christian life and thinking. Often it is useful for people to do Foundations after some other course of Christian learning (e.g. the Doorway course, Bishop’s Course in Faith and Life, Emmaus, Alpha, adult confirmation course, etc).
Foundations is a course about applying the Bible and Christian thinking to ministry in the church and the world – it is not a course mainly about how the Bible fits together, so it is expected that people have some of that material under their belts before they come on Foundations. It is expected that all applicants will already be actively involved as Christians in serving God through the church and in their lives. Applicants are required to discuss their interest in the course with their incumbent and gain their approval and backing for doing the course.
Foundations is also the required "first-step" course for those going on to Reader and Pastoral Worker training. It provides an introduction to skills and learning that helps people take full advantage of that further training.
The course looks at the following areas:
- God’s kingdom and what it means to be the church
- How we apply our faith to the difficult issues we face in daily life and in the church
- What ministry is and how we can find and develop our own ministry
- What are our own gifts and skills and how we can use them with others
- How the Bible, prayer and working with others can support our ministry
- Ways of working together that can enrich the ministry of the whole church
- How small groups work
- The challenge of mission and how we can share our faith as churches and as individuals
Learning with others As well as the course content, what many people learn the most from on the course is each other. Foundations is designed as a course where people from different parishes can meet together to learn from and encourage each other. Over the years we have run the course, the small group work has been a place where people make some firm friends and learn more about themselves and each other in a supportive and prayerful environment.
How the course runs
The course consists of 24 evening sessions, spread over three terms from September to June (eight evenings per term, 7.30pm-9.30pm). There is also an Enrolment Saturday in September and two Saturday sessions on particular themes: one in the second term, one in the third term.
The evening sessions are usually split into two halves: worship and a lively presentation from the front on the topic of the evening; and. small group time. This involves discussion, reflection, practical exercises, personal sharing and prayer. You will be expected to take part in discussion and various exercises – come prepared to be involved. You will also be expected to do about an hour of linkwork between sessions, which feeds into the group discussion.
You don't have to write any essays. There is the option of doing some accredited work, which is for many people an important way of deepening the learning on the course. However, you don’t have to do this and a large number of people on the course each year do not do the accredited work. Those, however who intend to go on to Reader and Pastoral Worker training, should do the accredited work.
if you choose to do the accredited work, you still may not have to write any essays. There is a choice of different assignments, including reflections on what you are learning on the course, group-based exercises, parish-based projects and more.
If you are comfortable with writing essays, you will have the option to do that, but there is a whole range of options for doing the accredited work. We offer study skills help for people who haven’t done this sort of thing before, or haven’t done it in a long while. You usually have to do two assignments per term.
Everybody who completes the course gets a certificate of completion. If you complete the accredited work, you will get the Church Colleges’ Certificate in Ministry. This is a nationally recognised award (at Level 4 in Higher Education terms), which allows you to take those credits on into further study if you want to.
The Foundations for Ministry accredited work is validated with the University of Chester.
How to apply
Application forms can be obtained from the Committee and Ministry (CfM) office at Church House. These need to be returned, with payment, by July in the year of commencement of the course.
Discuss the application with your incumbent ,then contact the Lay Training Course Administrator (details below)
Please note - the deadline for applications is 31 July in each year, although all places may be filled well before then. If you are accepted by your parish and the Diocese to train as a Pastoral Worker or Reader, you will definitely be given a place on the course as it forms the first year of your training and your parish will be paying for you to go on the course. However, these ministries have a selection process in place.
When and where
The course runs in two venues, either side of the Diocese (7.30pm till 9.30pm):
- Chester on a Monday evening
- Macclesfield on a Tuesday evening
The Saturday events during each term are in a central location in the middle of the Diocese. The main course leaders at the two venues are:
Revd Lyndon Bannon: c/o Church House: 01244 681973 ext 229
Revd Vivien Gisby: 1 Fearndown Way, Tytherington, Macclesfield SK10 2UF Tel: 01625 501449 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Each small group is led by an experienced small group leader.
How to contact us
Course Administrator: Pauline Hayward: Church House: 01244 681973 ext 229 Email: Pauline Hayward
By post: CfM, Church House, Lower Lane, Aldford, Chester CH3 6HP