Thursday, 31 January 2013

How do you fancy running theological education in the CofE?

These details are available on the Durham University website for the post of Professor Theology and Ministry who will also "work in partnership with the Church of England and partner churches engaged in the Common Awards to develop a research active community across the institutions involved in training and formation for ministry, connected to the Department’s current achievements in theology and the study of religion."

Fancy a go? Got any suggestions of someone who has a passion for evangelism and the conversion of England? 

Professor of Theology and Ministry

Reference Number
Durham City
Arts & Humanities
Theology and Religion
Grade 10
Position Type
Full Time
Contract Type
Closing Date
25 February 2013

Job Description

The Department of Theology and Religion at Durham has a world-leading research profile and took top place in the UK 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. The Department seeks to appoint an outstanding researcher and educator to consolidate and enhance the Department’s status as an international centre of excellence for research and research-led teaching in theology. 
In particular, Durham University has been awarded the sole contract for the Church of England Ministry Training and Validation in the UK, and the primary educational aspect of the role will be to lead this partnership programme on behalf of Durham University.

The appointee will be a scholar with a record of excellence in research and education directly relevant to Christian thought, practice, ministry, and mission in the contemporary world.
Salary will be by negotiation within the Professorial range.


The appointee will

a. Provide academic leadership of the highest quality, specifically leading the Common Awards partnership on behalf of Durham University

b. engage in internationally excellent research, including maintaining an active programme of publication and other dissemination, securing external research funding and seeking appropriate ‘impact’

c. work in partnership with the Church of England and partner churches engaged in the Common Awards to develop a research active community across the institutions involved in training and formation for ministry, connected to the Department’s current achievements in theology and the study of religion. Specifically, the appointee will be expected

(i) To contribute theological leadership in issues of curriculum development to the partnership
(ii) To integrate the Common Awards scheme into the life of the Department, and to foster national and international research networks in theology
(iii) To be the principal point of contact with the Archbishops’ Council’s Ministry Division over the Common Awards
(iv) Actively to foster relationships between the theological education institutions (TEIs) involved in the Common Awards scheme and the Department
(v) To work in partnership with theological educators drawn from across the participating TEIs in order to shape the Common Awards
(vi) To develop applications from teaching staff in the participating TEIs for Durham PhDs and DThMs
(vii) To provide a focus for approaches from other denominations and international partners who may want to join this model of ‘validation plus’ (on which see further below)
(viii) To provide leadership in the debate over appropriate methodologies with regard to ministerial education and formation in relation to academic excellence
(ix) To offer and provide support for the writing of web based material and academic texts from TEI staff and others
(x) To lead the ongoing review and development of Durham’s MA in Theology and Ministry and DThM programmes so as to adapt to and take full advantage of the new Common Awards context
Background to the Common Awards Scheme
The Church of England has resolved that rather than maintain relationships with multiple universities it should instead seek a single validating university for a common suite of validated degrees offered through its ministerial training providers. After an extensive process, Durham has been selected from a number of universities to validate ministerial qualifications at certificate, diploma, degree and master’s level. Yet the Durham approach is not simply about offering a simple administration and validation service, but rather a ‘Validation Plus’ scheme which will make the resources of research and education in Theology in Durham available to the participating TEIs at a range of levels. This unique scheme is intended to provide a creative partnership between the church and a world class University through a commitment to rigorous and engaged theology, providing tutor and student development in a way that brings academy and ministry together and allows mutual enrichment across colleges and courses and the University.
The professorial appointee will therefore provide Durham University’s contribution to the theological leadership to this scheme. He or she will be supported by at least one other academic appointment and two academic administrators. Investment in web resources and annual summer schools will also be provided by the scheme.

Person Specification

Person Specification


1. Doctoral degree in relevant subject area (E)


A strong, sustained record of published academic output at international/world-leading levels of recognition (E)

3. Demonstrable success in winning external research funding competitively (D)

4. Demonstrable ability to engage in research leadership (E)

5. Record of high achievement in teaching, demonstrated, for example, by student feedback, teaching awards, etc.(E)

Skills / Competencies

6. The vision and ability to provide academic leadership in shaping the future of the discipline, in Durham, in partnership with the Common Awards scheme and internationally. (E)

7. Excellent leadership skills, coupled with the drive and ability to make a significant contribution to the Department of Theology and Religion and broadly within the University. (E)

8. The ability to work collaboratively with partners in the Church of England and other churches (E)

9. Commitment to international research excellence, including potential to plan, lead and deliver collaborative projects. (E)

10. Proven track record of successful postgraduate supervision. (E)

11. An external profile in terms of membership of external bodies such as editorial boards, policy-making bodies, review panels, advisory boards or funding councils. (D)

(E) - Essential (D) - Desirable

Additional Information & Interview Date

 Interviews are expected to take place on the 20th March 2013.


 Contact for enquiries:
Prof. Alec Ryrie (Head of Department)
+ 44 + 191-334-3942

Please give a full name and location when posting. Comments without this information may be deleted. Recommend:


  1. Part of me would love to do it - but that job description reeks so strongly of the Babylonian captivity of the church (the cloister being subsumed into the imperatives of the academy) that failure is written into the job description from the start. We'll never convert England if we accept the academic as the acme of the theological path. Notice that there is nothing here that indicates that the person responsible for ministerial education should themselves have had any experience at ministry... (let alone evangelism or church planting or anything else of material and substantive relevance to the sharing of faith!)

  2. Tend to agree with Sam's comment. All the essential aspects are related to the research side of the post, but all the complexity and challenge is on the other side of the post. It looks so heavily administrative it could hardly attract a passionate teacher. And top quality research (for the Durham RAE) is not very likely to cohere with managing the programme. So good luck with this one.

  3. I agree with Peter and Sam - do you really want someone so scarce as passionate about evangelism & conversion of England in a committee job rather than actually doing it?


  4. No, don't fancy it and don't know anyone who might. But whoever is appointed will have minimal impact turning the Nation, let alone the C of E, to Christ.

    However, closer to home, the Bishop of Colchester is up for imminent retirement. If we have candidates to suggest, let them come forth. And there's the Bishop of Ebbsfleet as well, and a number of others. These people will, in the end, have more impact than a theological educator.

  5. Would Jesus have made the shortlist?

    Or for that matter any of the disciples?

    John the Baptist?.......!

    Anyway they forgot the requirement which seems to be a requirement of all Theology Students

    "To look for black cats in dark rooms that are not there" George Koovor Principal Trinity Bristol, talking about the uselessness of Theology


    1. Andrew Godsall, Exeter4 February 2013 at 17:14

      Are you sure George Kovoor said this about theology Phil? I think you ought to check your facts.

  6. John,
    Is 'someone who has a passion for evangelism' likely to be selected? The aplicant isn't required to be a believing Christian!
    This comment 'mission in the contemporary world' is likely to mean a liberal view of mission. God save us from such.

  7. Then why not get off your arses. stop your bitching, carping, finding fault and put your money where your mouths are! Start you own theological college - pay for its running yourselves – teach yourselves! Let the market decide... DO SOMETHING!! Instead of this incessant whining!

    So many of you 'conservatives' remind me of the football supporters of a team that once had greatness but now is languishing in the Third division. You all shout from the terraces, but few want to actually play the game (and I suspect a good number are ignorant of the rules!). They just bray from the terraces, while the club continues to fail. They’re not going to actually DO something – put their hands in the pockets, ‘buy’ some new players, pay for the cost of renovation... It is always someone else’s fault... And if people just listened to what we’re saying... if they’d only do as they’re told... Then all would be well. But God forbid I’ve actually got to do something that has a real personal and financial cost.

    The above job is an academic appointment at a university - funded by the mainly non-church going British tax payer (and let’s face it, even many of the church-going taxpayers wouldn’t measure up as ‘real’ Christians by the standards of many who comment or post here). Yes, the university has won a contract for the ‘Church of England Ministry Training and Validation in the UK – but note this is only part of the job. A good university is bound – if it is providing a service for the CofE and theology students in general - to include the broad range of thinking in past and present theology – not just stick to the exclusive, discriminating, self-magnifying and self-congratulatory ideologies so precious to some of our conservative parishioners. Let's be honest, what you really want is 'your' rather narrow view of Christianity and its theology, taught and nothing else - you want students to be told (brainwashed?) that 'you' are right and everyone else is wrong. Of course this will be veiled in the familiar claims of pious fidelity – but what you really want is people to do as they are told and believe what you believe, how you believe it.

  8. Peter Denshaw, I'm afraid your readiness to lump people like Sam Norton in the category of 'awful Conservatives' is rather unfortunate as it suggests you've made some unsustainable assumptions.

    I suggest you have a look at Sam's blog.

  9. Peter

    It is obvious from your writing that something or someone needs your forgiveness

    If as I suspect, a Bible believing Christian has upset you in the past you need to forgive them.

    You really need to do this for you.


  10. Andrew Godsall, Exeter4 February 2013 at 11:20


    It's obvious from your writing that you have no understanding of what the phrase 'bible believing' really means. You might just as well use the phrase 'Complete works of Shakespeare believing' about a person. It makes about as much sense.

    John: I could not see Peter lumping in Sam Norton with anyone. Peter makes some very pertinent points about the nature of the post you refer to. The C of E colleges and courses are still responsible for the formation and training of candidates for mission and evangelism. This post is about the validated academic awards. It is not about a one size fits all type of training and formation.

    I do increasingly wonder, having looked at the Free Church of England website since we have recognised their oreders, whether conservative Evangelicals would not be rather happier in that body. They seem right up your street.

  11. So Andrew, now you claim "Bible believing" makes no sense, eh?

    Let's ask Jesus now, shall we?

    "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!" (Luke 24:25)

    I'll stick with him, thank you very much.

    1. Andrew Godsall, Exeter4 February 2013 at 17:07

      No - I claim that the way Phil uses the phrase makes no sense.
      It's important to read things carefully so that you preserve the meaning the author intended.

  12. Sorry guys, another pointless argument developing. Thread closed.