South West Ministry Training Course
adventurous faith | missional hope | grounded love
Our vision is theological formation that is Christ-centred, world-engaging and rooted in local communities where lay and ordained ministers learn generously together.
SWMTC seeks to be a community of
- adventurous faith – growing together in the grace of God, we take risks in the Spirit. Faithful to God in prayer, practical skills put flesh on the bones of our theological studies, and spiritual formation breathes life into our service. Our adventures of faith in church, work and world weave together with academic integrity.
- missional hope – sharing God’s gift of a living hope in Jesus Christ, we train leaders to make and nurture disciples, and be creative in all dimensions of mission. We prepare ministers to serve others with trust and joy.
- grounded love – rooted in God’s love, we support and encourage one another. We believe in the power of prayer, celebrating our unity in diversity, and having fun as we learn together. We are proud to know and serve the South West, its villages and cities, its hills, moors and coastal communities.
SWMTC Periodic Review
In January 2019 a Periodic Education Review was held for SWMTC and one of the recommendations of the PER report was that SWMTC explain its approach to adult education in a manner that enabled wide dissemination. Please take a look at our response to this recommendation here kindly put together for us by the Revd. Dr Tim Gibson
Find out more about our programmes:
At SWMTC, we are committed to providing theological learning that is deeply rooted in local contexts. Our training and formation prepares people for ministry in a variety of settings, and the discipline required to juggle many differing commitments.
We place great emphasis on enabling Christian people to serve God within their communities. We offer part-time training, so that students can continue working and maintain their other commitments of family, voluntary activity and membership of a church community.
SWMTC provides the best of both worlds: a rich training experience firmly rooted in the local church; and membership of a community of formation, worship, prayer and learning.
For students training for licensed ministry, their Home Minister is a key person in enabling the growth and development of vocation and skills. Being near at hand means the Home Minister can also continue to be an exemplar to the student and provide pastoral support to their family.
“The experience of training for ministry in the midst of a busy family and working life was overwhelmingly positive – I would not wish to have trained in any other way. It has helped me to see God at work in the world, to learn how to be busy and to be still, to be honest about my strengths and weaknesses and to know the joy of working collaboratively to serve God and those around us.”
“The training I received on SWMTC combined a high level of contextual training (2 placements plus an ongoing 3 year training link to my home church) and a serious engagement in reflective journalling (not just writing journals, but developing in self-awareness and as a reflective practitioner), which have helped me to listen to and connect with the culture that I am ministering in.”
In providing part-time and local training, SWMTC is recognising the realities of modern life – family commitments to work and schooling; the need to maintain income; the importance of retaining support and links within the home community; rapid changes in the world and church – and focusing on many students’ need for flexibility and stability during the training years.
Being rooted in the local context means that SWMTC can provide students in Devon and Cornwall with a good balance of academic, liturgical, pastoral, and ministerial training on their doorstep. Because we attract students from a wide variety of backgrounds, it also means that our training is balanced over the whole spectrum of church traditions.
“The flexibility of the academic learning pathway meant that I was able to focus on areas that held specific interest for me, whilst also ensuring that sufficient attention was given to those areas where my personal experience was less extensive.”
“The three years I spent training with SWMTC were among the most happy, fulfilled and challenging years of my life. The course, through its balance of prayer, theological reflection, academic study and ministerial development, sends students out ready to begin many and varied ministries. At the heart of the course is a profound sense of relationship and community, a place where deep and lasting friendships are made.”
“The flexibility allowed in the course assignments and placements was a really valuable aspect of the course and enabled us as individuals to step outside the box of our comfort zones and to truly feel the current of alternative approaches to worship. This I found a key aspect of my own development.”
SWMTC employs a highly talented staff of academics, experienced practitioners and creative thinkers.
We have links to university theology departments in the UK with excellent international reputations. All of our academic awards are validated and accredited by Durham University under the “Common Awards” scheme, which means that they are consistent with all other courses offered by theological colleges, dioceses and other theological education institutions in the Church of England.
We have in place a strong network of support for students, and their family if they have one, covering vocation, formation, personal and theological development, and pastoral needs.
Our programmes were independently reviewed in January 2016 by the Quality Advisor appointed to SWMTC by the Church of England’s Ministry Division. Her report spoke of “…a highly qualified and committed staff team, a wide network of associate staff and tutors with whom relationships have been built up over many years and who constitute a dynamic group of reflective practitioners… Students spoke consistently highly of the quality of the teaching of the staff team, value greatly the mutual support and learning they experience… In all sessions there was evidence of sustained engagement by all students with excellent teaching which combined theological challenge with awareness of ministerial context.”
“These seem to me to be rapidly changing times for the Priesthood as well as Readers and of course congregations. In this climate, the sound training provided by SWMTC enables Readers to recognise these changes and to look forward to the development of their ministries in a really positive way.”
As our name would suggest, SWMTC understands the church in the South West, and so can offer training and formation that prepares people for the ministry needed here.
With study centres in Exeter, Truro and Plymouth, students can minimise their travel time, while still connecting to their peer group and the SWMTC community.
An independent review noted that “Staff members… are ‘hefted’, rooted in the local, as well as being resourced by wider national connections, and this adds credibility to their teaching. There is no comparable body with the reach, depth and capacity to help deliver theological education and lay training across the south west.”
Residential training courses often emphasise the community-related benefits of their programmes. We think that being intentional about forming community while training is just as valuable. The following testimonial from a recent student says it all.
“One of the most remarkable aspects of SWMTC is its sense of community. Perhaps because of its very nature as a regional training course, time spent in community, either for single days or longer, is very precious, and never taken for granted. Relationships are built quickly and sustained at a deep level and over time, long after formal training has ended. SWMTC has a strong sense of family. Together, students, staff, families and friends of the course build strong communal bonds. All of this is sustained by the ethos of the course with its strong worshipping heart and very real sense of being part of the body of Christ. As an ex-student, I have learned much from this way of being community and have carried this with me into parish life.”
Because of our flexibility and rootedness in the South West, SWMTC welcomes students from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and traditions, helping us embody the diversity and unity that are hallmarks of these churches. See for example, recent statements against racism from both Exeter and Truro dioceses. If you are of UKME (formerly BAME) heritage you may like to make contact with the UKME champion for Exeter, the Reverend Tanya Hockley-Still and in Truro Patrick Gilbert
We believe that learning should take place not just in the context of the church, but in ‘the public square’. Students training for licensed ministry will study alongside the students taking New Encounters in Theology, who can come from all faith backgrounds and none. It is very important to us that candidates for ministry hear the questions and learn from the thinking of other students, while these students hear in turn how the candidates for ministry are approaching their task.
“The breadth of voices within both students and staff ensured that I became comfortable with the diversity of Anglican… traditions, whilst being encouraged to develop my understanding of pioneer ministry and its role within the ministry and mission of God’s Church.”