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Life as an Ordinand


(continued from last month)

I count myself as being very fortunate and privileged to be one of only 48 men trained by what was designed to be a new and experimental method of training men for the ordained ministry. This method was known as the Lichfield course because it began at the Lichfield Theological College in Staffordshire.
The Lichfield course emerged as a result of the findings of the first report of the Theological Education Committee, in July 1964. The first nine men to start the course joined the college in January 1966. I started my training at Lichfield in 1969.
The course took three years with three thirteen week terms in each year. For the whole of the course we worked in groups of between three to seven men per group. One term each year was spent away from college, in what were called ‘out-periods´, and the groups were known by the names of the town or city where they spent these out-periods. My group was called the Litchurch Group after the parish of that name in Derby which is 26 miles away from the college in Derby.
During the out-periods we lived in lodgings; professional landladies were avoided and accommodation was usually found through the local knowledge of the parish´s clergy. Official contact with the college was maintained by the weekly visits from a member of the college staff. These meetings were usually held in turn at each group member´s lodgings and began with a celebration of Holy Communion. These ‘house-Communions' were quite informal and frequently the landladies and their families joined in the service with the students. The staff member would celebrate and a student would read the Epistle, another the Gospel. At the intercessions all were free to offer prayers for a person, family or section of the community with which they were involved.
The purpose of these out-periods was three-fold: to relate what had been learned in college to the ‘real´ world situation, to provide a group of students with a common experience which could be drawn upon for later learning, and to learn practical skills appropriate for a parochial ministry. By living and working in these situations we had the opportunity to learn something about the political, economic, welfare and recreational structures of the community. We had the opportunity to see the community from the perspective of those who work and live in it as well as those who serve the community in the caring profession as well as in the parochial ministry. Also, of course, we had to maintain our studies during these out-periods - not always easy in lodgings. How we missed the college library and the privacy of our own rooms for studying!
[page five]
The day in college began with Mattins in the college chapel at 7.30 am followed by a twenty minute quite period for meditation either in the chapel or in our own rooms. Holy Communion was said at 8.10 with a sung eucharist on Red-letter days at 8 am. Breakfast was at 8.45 am and the first seminar session began at 9.30 am. After coffee at 11 am the second seminar began at 11.30 followed by lunch at 1 pm. Then a third semianr at 4.30pm. The day ended with Compline at 10 pm. This was sung on feast days, while on Fridays there was an address given by a member of the staff. Evensong was said each day from Monday to Friday. All services were conducted by the students except, of course, the celebrations of Holy Communion and Friday Compline.
Of course a great deal of preparation, reading and essay writing was required before the seminars, which each lasted for an hour and a half, and each student had six of these seminars in a week. The aim of the seminars was that we should not only listen but also come to terms with relating the new material into a whole and become able to communicate it to other members of the group.
The high-spots of the worshipping life of the college were the Friday night complines and the Sunday morning eucharist which was always attended by wives and families if they lived in reach.
Alas, the Lichfield course is no more, for the powers that be, in their wisdom (????) have decided that the college should close. The last six students who started the Lichfield course will finish trieir final year at Queens College, Birmingham. Please remember them in your prayers and all who are trainlng and teaching in the Churches theological colleges.

 

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