The new Principal, the Revd Dr Michael Volland, writes about his vision for theological education:
Current students might be pleased to discover that during the recent application process for the post of Principal I was asked to write an essay on my passion for theological education.
Few people greet the prospect of essay writing with enthusiasm, especially when the ‘to-do’ list is already fairly hefty, and I am no exception. However, as I have discovered countless times over the years, the preparatory reading and thinking and the process of writing and re-drafting the work was immensely stimulating and clarified my thinking very helpfully indeed. Rather than a single passion for theological education, it transpires that I have two.
The first is captured perfectly in the words of Handley Moule, the first Principal of Ridley Hall, who wrote, ‘To be like Christ. . . We aim at nothing less than to walk with God all day long, to abide every hour in Christ and He and His words in us, to love God with all the heart and our neighbour as ourselves.’ I share Moule’s desire for myself, my family, my colleagues and our students. In other words, my first passion for theological education is that it aims primarily to encourage and enable growth of Christ-like character in all those who participate — teachers and learners alike.
When these qualities are nurtured in an environment such as Ridley Hall, the result is the formation of Kingdom-entrepreneurs
My second passion for theological education is that it encourages and enables entrepreneurship; a set of qualities and characteristics that I believe are a gift of God to his Church and particularly appropriate in an age of rapid change. What we notice in entrepreneurial individuals, teams and institutions are things such as trust, partnership, collaboration, opportunity-spotting, vision, energy, focus, creativity and innovation — all of which are in great demand in the current mission situation. When these qualities are nurtured in an environment such as Ridley Hall, in which the key priority is growth in Christ-like character, the result is the formation of Kingdom-entrepreneurs; men and women filled with the Spirit, passionately committed to collaborative, creative gospel service in the world.
These twin passions are an excellent fit with Ridley’s founding vision, which was that the Good News of Jesus be proclaimed to the ends of the earth so that individual lives, communities and cultures may be transformed by God’s redeeming grace. At the beginning of a new year and a new season in the life of Ridley Hall, and as we continue to strive, under God, to fulfil this vision, please remember us each day in your prayers.