Gaining practical ministry knowledge and skills
For student Jenny Allan, the idea of theological training to better equip her for lay ministry had always been an attractive one. She has just completed the Ministry Training for Women (MTW) course and has now enrolled in the Graduate Diploma of Divinity.
She shares, “I have been involved in women’s ministry at my local church for quite some time and I was attracted by the idea of doing some further study. Partly to increase my knowledge of the Bible, but also my skills in handling God’s Word, hopefully growing my understanding… to help me to be more effective.”
The opportunity to study by distance
Jenny lives in Canberra and is involved in Tuggeranong Presbyterian Church. Christ College was appealing as the Presbyterian Bible College, but it being in Sydney and her in Canberra initially stopped her – until COVID-19.
Jenny shares, “I wanted to do [MTW] a few years ago, but didn’t really have the opportunity because it would’ve involved going to Sydney for all of the lectures. But when COVID happened, it went online and that actually gave me the opportunity to do the course from Canberra, rather than having to commute frequently, which would’ve been difficult to juggle with work commitments. So that was one way in which Covid was actually helpful because it gave me access to being able to do MTW.”
Although she studied online and hadn’t even set foot in the physical campus of the College until graduation in March 2023, Jenny had a positive experience of her online environment and the college community. She says, “I had lots of conversations with people and received lots of support so the logistics and the communication were very smooth. The website was easy to use.”
One thing that helped Jenny get connected with the community of the college while studying online was attending the student and staff retreat in 2022. She shares, “[Christ College] have a retreat every year for the students and staff. That was really helpful because I got to meet some of the staff and some of the other students as well.”
Ministry Training for Women
The MTW course itself was a great encouragement, as well as time of being better equipped for Jenny.
She reflects, “The course itself was really lovely because there were sometimes 30 women from all over Australia, with a wide variety of backgrounds, church experience and points of view. It was really encouraging actually just to be studying and learning with a very diverse group of women.”
All the content was extremely relevant and interesting, but Jenny particularly found the topics on pastoral care in grief and trauma and conflict resolution useful.
Jenny shares, “I really appreciated the talks that we had about supporting people who are going through grief, and supporting women who are in or fleeing domestic violence situations. That was really helpful. We also did a unit on conflict resolution and I found that very helpful as well. When you have a bunch of people together, it’s inevitable that not everybody’s going to agree about everything. It was really nice to have a bit of a framework in which to try and understand differences of opinion and how best to bring about a positive resolution.”
The historical content on the Presbyterian Church was also of interest to her, as a woman serving in her local Presbyterian Church. She says, “It helped me to understand how some of the structure has come to be the way it is, and that was really helpful just in terms of working with the people I work with in ministry now and understanding why some decisions have been made. It was really helpful in just understanding the context that I am doing my ministry in.”
Integrating study with practice
Now having completed MTW, Jenny is taking her training into her weekly ministry. The courses were quickly applicable to her ministry with women and children, especially Word ministries she is involved in.
She shares, “It’s equipped me to understand the Bible better and to come to the Bible with a little bit more knowledge. That has helped me with leading Bible study and my other roles.
I’m really passionate about encouraging women to know the Bible and to be able to read it for themselves, understand it and to really appreciate God more, which the course has also equipped me better for.”
Continuing at Christ College
Jenny loved doing MTW so much she has now enrolled in a Graduate Diploma of Divinity. Thanks to new online offerings, she can also study this by distance from Canberra.
Jenny commends Christ College to others and says, “They’re really passionate and serious about equipping people to grow in their faith, but also to go and to serve others. Whether it be here or somewhere else, and in whatever roles God has for people. I think [as students] we are well supported to gain the skills, knowledge, wisdom and hopefully grace and maturity that we need, to be serving God wherever he puts us.”
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