Baptist Union to review funding for training of ministers

Philip McCormack, Principal of Spurgeon's College, is a member of the working group established to examine the issue further

The Baptist Union of Great Britain is launching a review into funding for the training of future Baptist ministers. 

It follows a meeting of the Baptist Union Council last November which heard concerns about the lack of funding for Baptist colleges involved in the training of ministers. 

The meeting heard from Tim Fergusson, Ministerial Development Advisor, who after visiting a number of Baptist colleges, suggested that they were not being adequately funded despite being relied upon to train the next generation of ministers and in as flexible a manner as possible in order to make training available to a wide range of people. 

At present, Baptist colleges receive a Home Mission contribution of £128,000 that is used as bursary funding for students.

The Council heard further concerns that the number of ministers in training is lagging behind demand, leaving some churches unable to fill posts, a problem compounded by the number of retirements outpacing newly accredited ministers.

The BUGB described the current funding climate as "challenging". 

It has set up a working group formed of 10 people to examine the issue further.  In addition to ministers, the working group includes Philip McCormack, Principal of Spurgeon's College, Rob Ellis, Principal of Regents Park College, and Fran Brealey, College Manager at Bristol Baptist College. 

The group is to be moderated by Baptist theologian Dr Stephen Holmes, who is Principal of St Mary's College at the University of St Andrew's. 

Dr Holmes said, "I'm delighted to be working with such a gifted group of people looking at an opportunity to do real and lasting good for Baptist churches, our colleges, and our wider Baptist family.

"We will be listening widely and thinking creatively, looking for a way forward that is both practical and transformational."

The working group will deliver its first report to the meeting of the Baptist Union Council in October 2020.