Celebration Service to Recognise Academic Awards of School of Mission Students

Celebration Service to Recognise Academic Awards of School of Mission Students

Last week a service of celebration was held to recognise the academic achievements of those who graduated from training last year from the School of Mission’s BPP, LLM and Ordinand training programmes. Over 90 people attended this event, including past and current students, friends and family members, and several associate tutors.

On the night, six people were awarded Durham University Foundation Awards in Theology, Ministry and Mission, and six were awarded Diplomas in the same. One individual collected their award for a BA in Theology, and five received a certificate marking their completion of Initial Ministerial Training.

The service was led by Bishop Philip, who also presented the academic awards to students. Licensed Ministry Training staff and students contributed to the music and the prayers, while the creative intercessions were led by previous student and LLM Karin Jenssen. These intercessions not only enabled a powerful time of prayer, they also inspired many with ideas to take back to their own churches and communities.

This was a wonderful evening which drew together the whole of our exceptional learning community: students, supporting family and friends and tutors, to celebrate those who finished studying with us last year. There was a real buzz as people caught up with each other and shared the ways in which God had been active and faithful in their ministry since leaving training. We are grateful to all who played a part in making this evening such a special occasion.

Revd Helen O’Sullivan, Licensed Ministry Training Tutor

Simon Day, Mo Pimenta and Gill MacDonald Giving Testimonies

A few of those being awarded diplomas gave testimonies at the service, which were both moving and inspiring (see text below). Please join us in praying for everyone whose academic achievements were celebrated on the night, as well as for the ongoing work of the School of Mission team.

Testimonies from the event:

Gill MacDonald

First of all I should like to pay tribute to the Winchester School of Mission  – all the wonderful tutors for all that thy have contributed to this course; the excellent teaching has been challenging, inspiring, and very thought provoking. All of the staff have encouraged and supported us throughout and it is all very much appreciated.

My friends and family and church congregation have also been very supportive and encouraging and quietly I think they are impressed that at such a ripe old age I have managed to write assignments and give presentations for the first time in my life!

For one of our assignments we had to give a sermon based on the story of Mary anointing Jesus feet and drying them with her hair – and one of my lovely BPP friends gave a sermon entitled : “Should we be more like Mary?” I guess I would have always considered myself a Martha – nothing wrong with being busy – service is ministry too – but since the course  I have  certainly become more like Mary.  I enjoy my contemplative quiet times much more – my prayer time is so very highly  valued  and listening is an important part of the process. God is certainly sitting on my shoulder when I go down those inevitable rabbit holes, a different piece of scripture gets put into the thinking, or a random conversation with someone brings me back on track.  That does not happen by accident.

God is affirming what I am doing –  He is giving me a sort of thumbs up – after all these years He has giving me the confidence to stand up and be counted.

Simon Day

I would like to share my thoughts on how the diploma and training with the School of Mission has impacted me both personally and in my ministry. At first, I was nervous because I was surrounded by people with extensive backgrounds in the Church of England and theological training including sons of Bishops and partners of existing Clergy.  Did I belong here? I began working when I was 18 years old, did not have a degree, was confirmed only in 2017, and joined the parish church not long ago. But soon, I quickly felt welcomed into this amazing community, where our backgrounds didn’t matter, and we all faced the same challenges with Harvard referencing and essay word counts!

Our cohort still communicates regularly, supporting each other through personal and professional struggles. This has been a blessing for me, and I am grateful for the encouragement I have received from my cohort, ministry team and the School of Mission.

Only this week both myself and another member of our group, Rev. Rob, have faced significant family health events. The group were wonderful as ever and as the Rev. Rob said better than me:

Thank-you for your support prayers and your concern for me. I really feel a strength from it.”

I know some of you are here tonight and a huge thank you for all the love and support over the last 5 years. I feel blessed that with my Cohort and my ministry team in my Benefice, I can call on 18 clergy and lay ministers to pray for friends and family at any time. 

The diploma has given me the confidence to engage in theological dialogue and handle complex religious issues with understanding and empathy. It has prepared me for my ministry in the benefice and in the workplace, where I have learned to minister effectively to diverse congregations and communities.

This is especially important in the work environment where you meet Christians of different backgrounds and denominations and need to have the awareness and adaptability to make sure everyone feels included and at ease at prayer meetings, learning sessions and services.

Through this training, I have grown in my faith and developed a greater sense of compassion and social responsibility. I am better equipped to both identify, acknowledge, and tackle contemporary challenges and advance justice, equality, and peace in society.

In conclusion, the value of this diploma and training lies in its ability to enable individuals, like me, to make a positive impact in the world, fostering spiritual growth and enhancing the lives of others through service, guidance, and love, with the support of the fellowship of our School of Mission alumni.

See the photos via our Flickr page.