Wycliffe Hall for the Church, the Academy and the World

At our meeting in January I gave all staff the challenge of summarising the purpose of Wycliffe Hall in fewer than 160 characters (the length of a text message).  It is hard to be succinct but I thought that the final answer was good: “Founded in 1877 Wycliffe Hall is an international evangelical college in the University of Oxford, equipping Christian leaders for the church, academy and world.”

 For the last 130 years Wycliffe Hall has been doing three things: training God’s people for ministry; stretching human minds with theological truth; and equipping godly ministers for mission in the world.

{Christ} gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service , so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith … (Eph 4:11-13).

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed (2 Tim 2:15).

Church

The Church of England faces serious challenges in its funding of ministerial training.  We will need to wait until after the July General Synod to hear the outcome of the Bishop of Sheffield’s recommendations.  These are critical discussions.  The church needs well educated clergy.  Retaining high quality full time training in historic theology faculties in our leading universities is absolutely important. 

We have already anticipated some of these challenges with our new part time and mixed mode training programme.  This will use the University validated Diploma in Theological and Pastoral Studies primarily taught on Monday delivered over three years.  We are delighted that Ministry Division has approved this training pathway and we are actively recruiting candidates from around the country (more at www.wycliffe.ox.ac.uk). 

Academy

The biggest challenge facing higher education at the moment is responding to the Browne Review outlining changes in HE funding to be implemented by the academic year 2012.  The University is cautious about announcing its new fee structure until it has been reviewed by the appropriate committees.  However, few people will be surprised if the University charges the full £9,000 annual undergraduate fee.

Clearly there are implications for Wycliffe Hall but we are optimistic that the Permanent Private Halls will continue to be treated favourably in training of ministerial students.  In the future I expect we will need greater partnership with candidates’ sending churches for ongoing support, including financially.

 World

 The great end for which we teach, study and work is the glory of God.  It is because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) that we follow in the Apostle Paul’s example in seeking to make Christ known.

 Wycliffe Hall responds to world’s crying needs by training ministers for “works of service”.  We particularly emphasise the acronym LEAP (Leadership, Evangelism, Apologetics, Preaching).  Our Tutorial staff are scholars gifted in core theological disciplines (biblical studies, doctrine, church history etc.).  We are also united in the aim of sending men and women into the world for mission.

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