One of the biggest decisions I made just before I came to Westcott was what training pathway I was going to do. Really, it was a toss-up between the Durham BA and the Tripos. I chose the Durham BA and, even in the midst of essay writing, I never regretted my decision.
One of the reasons the Durham BA appealed to me was that it promised a wide range of topics that would provide me with a wealth of knowledge to draw upon in ministry. Before college, my familiarity with Scripture for instance was, limited to say the least. Over the next three years, I was able to take classes that offered a broad overview of both the Old and New Testaments which highlighted key themes from them; as well as more detailed courses that focussed on specific books. This approach in particular ignited the passion for scripture I now feel and set me up to continue to explore the Bible in curacy.
And this example not only applies to Scripture. Throughout my three years, I was able to take courses that covered a huge range of topics from Liturgy to Spirituality, and Church History to Contemporary Apologetics. The BA provided me with opportunities to explore all of these topics and more, as well as the chance to undertake detailed studies of those areas of Christianity I was most interested in. Additionally, the work I produced for these courses always involved a practical application. An exegesis on the Book of Amos required me to consider what the contemporary Church of England could learn from this prophet. A doctrine class asked me to produce a Bible Study session focussing on Pentecost. In addition to the essays I wrote to demonstrate my understanding of the topics I studied; the BA challenged me to consider how I can practically apply what I had learned for later ministry. It is these ideas and concepts I fleshed out in college that I am now putting into action in my current ministry.
Furthermore, what added to these course was the people I was studying alongside. Often in society, and arguably even more so in the Church of England, we can lock ourselves into theological echo chambers. If you have a more catholic theology, then you naturally read more catholic minded theologians. So, unless you deliberately go out of your way to read material from other theological perspectives, you can very easily avoid encountering any other perspectives at all on particular areas of theology. During the BA I studied with both Anglican and non-Anglican ordinands from a wide variety of theological perspectives. The discussions we shared enabled me to see arguments from different viewpoints, and to appreciate the approaches of differing traditions to certain concepts. This has been an enormous benefit to me in my curacy as every day I encounter and work alongside ministers from faith traditions different to my own. Owing to the BA, I have a much greater understanding and appreciation of where people from different traditions are coming from, and the ways that they experience God in worship.
Finally, the Durham BA allowed me time to be formed. For the majority of my courses, the methods of assessment were essays and projects to be handed in at the end of the term. If I had been writing essays every week then I would never have had the time to continue those hobbies that sustained me in college, to spend time in the Common Room chatting with friends, or even just time to pray outside of the Daily Offices. I had time to be me, an opportunity I feel I never would have had on a different course.
For me, no course could have prepared me for ministry better than the Durham BA. The topics I studied engaged me and prepared me for curacy. The work enabled me to demonstrate my understanding of the topics, as well as ways to actively apply what I had learned. The people I
studied with allowed me to see things from different perspectives and gave me a greater awareness of some of the faith traditions I am now steeped in in curacy. And the course simply afforded me the time to be who God called me to be. Owing to these reasons, and many more, I found the Durham BA was excellent in helping to form me for ministry.