Ministerial Formation

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Ministerial Formation at Ridley

Since its foundation in 1881, Ridley Hall has been forming, equipping, and renewing Christian leaders in an ever-changing world. It is our conviction that formation for ministry is a lifelong journey that happens within the context of intentional community as we encourage one another to know, love, and serve the Lord. Together, we commit to the life of his church—its ministry, mission, and renewal.

Our approach to ministerial formation at Ridley is biblically rooted, practically informed, missionally engaged, and anchored in the history, doctrine, and worship of the Anglican tradition. Our programme of ministerial formation covers areas such as mission, evangelism, preaching, pastoral care, spirituality, worship, leadership, and relationships. It also delves into the practical basics of ministry, such as taking weddings and funerals.

The teaching is interactive, involving Ridley staff and occasional outside speakers. All Ridley ordinands participate, regardless of which training pathway or academic course they are on. It is a great opportunity to learn about and wrestle with important aspects of discipleship, ministry, and mission, together with peers and staff.

Ministerial Formation in Community

Ministerial Formation in Community

We believe that ministerial formation for discipleship and ministry is crucial, and, more often than not, takes place in the sustained life of small groups when people pray, share, study, and travel through sorrows and joys together. The church is essentially relational, a community brought into being through the cross and sharing the relational life of the Holy Trinity.

Ordained leaders need to be skilled in developing and nurturing trusting relationships because it is in a context of trust that both pastoral care and pastoral discipline are best exercised. Gifts for mission and ministry best emerge within positive relationships, and leaders need to learn how to participate in such groups as members and not just how to facilitate them.

Emmaus Programme

The Emmaus Teaching Programme in Vocation, Theology and Practice is the formation programme for all Ridley Hall ordinands in their first and final years of training. It maps onto the Church of England's Formation Framework for Ordained Priestly Ministry and is inspired by the story of the disciples’ encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).

As well as regular teaching, the Emmaus Programme’s components include Emmaus Journey Groups, which gather weekly with their Formation Tutors for Morning Prayer followed by an hour of fellowship for a range of shared activities, including Bible study and personal testimony. Pioneer ordinands follow a parallel programme that takes place at the same time.

Emmaus Journey Groups create the space for tutorial staff and tutees to know and be known by each other, playing an important part in the spiritual life of the community and each of our journeys of discipleship.

Parish Experience

At Ridley you will be preparing for service not just in the church of today, but in the unknown church of tomorrow. You will need to make connections between the theology you learn in the classroom and the experiences you have had and will have in local churches and the communities they serve. Facing an unknown future with hope will take a willingness to be surprised and an openness to new ways of proclaiming Christ.

At Ridley we offer a number of ways to make sure you stay connected to—and learn from—the gritty reality of a local church during your training.

Parish Attachments

Parish Attachments

All our students who are training for ordination belong to a Cambridge church or a college chapel in the University of Cambridge, attending Sunday services and either an afternoon or evening activity per week, during term time.

Parish attachments offer an opportunity to broaden your experience of church and to begin to get a taste of ordained ministry in a particular context. It is likely you will be given opportunities to lead intercessions, read, preach and participate in other ways on Sundays. You will be supervised by the vicar (or chaplain) who will meet with you at least once a term.

Quite often there will be more than one ordinand on attachment in a particular church or group of churches. This is a great opportunity to share experiences and perspectives, and it is likely that your supervisor will sometimes meet with you as a whole group.

Ordinands who are training for two years will usually be attached to the same church for both years, although if their attachment is to a college chapel they are likely to move to a parish setting in their second year. Three-year ordinands usually move to a different parish attachment for their final year.

Parish Placements

Parish Placements

Every ordinand at Ridley spends a minimum of four consecutive weeks in full-time ministry in an Anglican parish, usually in the summer vacation before their final year.

Each student meets with their Pastoral Tutor to discuss the right sort of parish for them to be placed in. Some students choose to go somewhere in England selected for the particular context of the church (rural, inner city, suburban), or for the particular circumstances of an incumbent (some female ordinands for instance choose to spend a month working with a female incumbent).

Where students already have considerable experience and knowledge of parish ministry in the UK there is the opportunity to discuss the possibility of serving in an overseas parish placement.

Parish Experience for Pioneer Ordinands

Parish Experience for Pioneer Ordinands

Ordinands on the Pioneer Track are encouraged and assisted to find term-time attachments and summer placements with parishes and churches that are already involved in pioneering work.

The Diocese of Ely has a strong commitment to pioneering, and we have close relationships with churches and individuals involved in pioneering in this and other dioceses, at national level in the Church of England, and in Fresh Expressions.

Mission Experience

A vital part of the training experience at Ridley is mission. At Ridley our prayer is to see the good news of Jesus Christ known across the earth, and God's grace, justice, and love transforming every sphere of his creation.

Social Context Placements (SCPs)

Social Context Placements (SCPs)

All first-year ordinands take part in one or two Social Context Placements (SCPs), depending on the length of their training. Each SCP consists of about 40 hours of placement time - either in a block during a vacation, or on a weekly basis in term time.

This is a great opportunity to experience a context outside the church that you may never have had any connection with before. SCPs give valuable time to explore the way the Christian faith relates to issues of contemporary secular life.

There are many different SCPs on offer to our ordinands, ranging from chaplaincy work in a prison, hospital, hospice, school or the armed forces, to working alongside bereavement counsellors, in L’Arche Community or on a project for marginalised young people.



Ordinands receive teaching on preaching as part of the Emmaus Teaching Programme (for more about the Emmaus Teaching Programme, see Spiritual Formation), which also gives each student opportunities to practice preaching.

Parish attachments offer further opportunities to preach, under the supervision of the incumbent or chaplain, and in your final year of training you will meet in small Sermon Groups with a tutor.

A Mission-Focussed Community

A Mission-Focussed Community

In addition to these college-based mission opportunities, we are passionate about seeing integration of mission into the everyday reality of student life. See community worship & mission.

Students in the Scum of the Earth workshop
College mission to 'Scum of the Earth' in Denver, Colorado