Training Pathways for Ordained Ministry
Ridley Hall offers full-time residential and context-based training, as well as training pathways for ordained pioneers and future theological educators, to give you the best possible foundation for your future ministry. To explore which route is right for you, consult our guide below and come along to our Interview Days. We are also often able to offer more bespoke training options after a conversation with our Admissions Team.
Each pathway—whether classic residential or context-based—has unique strengths and opportunities, and Ridley will work closely with you to shape your experience with us and provide you with everything you need to meet the great demands of church leadership in the 21st century.
"Ridley Hall provides ministerial training for the world as it is and will be;
not the world as it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago."
Revd Rhiannon King, Archdeacon of Ipswich (Ridley 1997–2000)
Your training pathway and your academic course are related but separate dimensions of your overall training. Within a particular training pathway, it is often possible to choose from a range of academic awards. The academic course you take will be determined by a variety of factors, such as prior qualifications, length of training, and your own learning style and preferences. To find out more about the different academic courses we offer, use our course finder tool or get in touch.
- Full-Time Residential Training
Ridley Hall is passionately committed to the value and benefits of full-time residential training and the deep formation for Christian ministry that it makes possible.
Our full-time residential training pathway is a unique opportunity to join an immersive and intentional community of students, staff, faculty, and sabbatical guests—from across the UK and the world—who share a profound commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ and to the flourishing of his church.
Jesus called his twelve disciples apart for a deep dive into the fundamentals of ministry and mission. The disciples lived with Jesus, learnt at his feet, served with him, ate with him, laughed with him, wept with him, went fishing with him, and grew in love and faith under his gracious leadership. It is this vision of intensive immersion in the life of Christ that animates our vision for full-time residential training.
Life in intentional community fosters the deep habits and disciplines of study and prayer, hospitality and generosity, mercy and forgiveness, joy and love. All these require the depth of engagement that full-time residential training offers in spades.
As we grow in these habits of heart and mind, a profound transformation begins to take place. This kind of deep and intensive immersion in ministry and discipleship creates a rich fabric for the reorientation of our entire lives to Christ. Our imagination—the fulcrum of our very being—is transformed and converted to see the world in a radically new way through a Christ-centred lens.
As part of full-time residential training, you will experience our proud tradition of world-class academic excellence in teaching and scholarship, and an abiding commitment to hands-on, practical learning for the demands of ordained ministry. Formal prior study is not required—only a thirst for knowing and loving God deeply.
People come to study with us with many gifts. We aim to build on these gifts, share them in relationship with others, and enrich people with new situations, challenges, and opportunities. We seek to rely on the Holy Spirit, who motivates us, leads us into God's truth, and gives us the courage to put that truth into practice.
We are committed to the rigorous study of Scripture, the Christian tradition and worship, as well as contemporary insights that help us to live and communicate God's grace today.
At Ridley, our students spend time learning in the classroom and in small groups, independently and with others, through focused reflection and active ministry. Much learning happens outside the classroom: in conversations over coffee and lunch, after morning Chapel, and in each other's homes. We will support you to become an independent and reflective learner equipped for a lifelong pursuit of wisdom as a servant of Christ.
At Ridley, students, faculty, and staff share life with one another as we worship, pray, study, serve, and eat together.
We are being formed in the image of Christ through deep encounters not only with Scripture and the riches of Christian tradition and worship, but also with one another.
Bound to one another in a profoundly relational community, we learn with and from each other and increase in the love of God and neighbour.
This intentional community, ultimately, does not exist for its own sake. We are an outward-looking community, and we come here to leave—to be sent out with deep formation in Christian discipleship and leadership so that we can serve, lead, and witness for the sake of the church and the world.
- Context-Based Training
Rooted for Growth
Our ground-breaking context-based training pathway combines the strengths of our residential community and whole-person formation with the benefits of rootedness in a local context—at the coalface of God's advancing kingdom. Our context-based training is known as ‘PC3’ (Participation, Classroom, Context, Community).
As context-based learners immerse themselves in the reality of the world and the church, engage with one another in community, and reflect together on what it means to inhabit the kingdom of God, our prayer is that they become ever more effective catalysts for the transforming power of God in the church and the world.
While all ordinands train in a way that makes connections between their practical experience of mission and ministry, context-based training allows for deeper immersion in a context and more time dedicated to making the connections between this experience and the learning that takes place in the classroom.
Rooted in Experience and Learning
All formation takes place in a number of contexts: the contexts of the college community, the parishes where you worship, the place where you live and the context of your own life experience. In addition, training for public ministry involves being exposed to church and social contexts by means of discrete placements.
By making connections between your experience and observations in these placements and your classroom-based learning in college, you are encouraged to develop the dispositions, knowledge and skills that you will need for public ministry.
Context-based training seeks to deepen these connections through an approach to education for discipleship and ministry that has four key elements:
Rooted in Ministry and Mission
You will have regular opportunities in your context attachment to assist in leading worship, preaching and to be involved in other parish activities as agreed between you and the supervisor and college tutor.
Rooted in Classroom Learning
You will be part of a small cohort of context ordinands in your Hub with whom you will learn and reflect together as you meet week by week, share experiences and work together in mission and ministry tasks. You will work alongside and be supervised by the parish incumbent, with guidance from your context-based tutor.
Rooted in a Context
Due to the way the context-based timetable is organised, context-based students are able to spend more time gaining ministerial experience in their church attachment context than other students, leading to a more immersive experience.
This additional time combined with regular theological reflection with peers means that the experiential learning is constantly attended to embedded, complementing the more formal learning that takes place in other parts of their training.
Context-based students will have up to a day and half plus Sunday mornings engaging in a wide range of ministerial and missional practices, with regular feedback from and reflection with their attachment supervisor (usually the vicar).
Rooted in Community
As well as learning with your Hub cohort, you will also belong to the wider cohort of ordinands doing context-based training, all of whom will be assigned for the whole academic year to a context Hub. Once a week everyone in this wider group meets together with the pathway tutors and sometimes one or more of the pathway supervisors, to worship, to share a meal and to reflect together.
To Find Out More
For more information about context-based training at Ridley Hall, please contact our Director of Context-Based Training, the Revd Andrew Dunlop.
- Ordained Pioneer Ministry
On the Edges and Beyond
Pioneers are called to work on and beyond the edges of the church. Pioneer ministers can be lay or ordained and they are an integral part of the mixed ecology church.
Often they are involved in the community working beyond the boundaries of the established church to form new contextual worshipping communities or ‘fresh expression’ churches – contextual and missional churches which take a variety of shapes and forms – with groups of people who might otherwise not engage with church.
They can pioneer from an established church, pushing the boundaries of mission into the communities or cultures. They aim to create church for and with people, groups and networks who have no contact with any existing church in order to enable people to engage with God where they are.
At Ridley, we work carefully with these ordinands, helping them to deepen their sense of call to grow or plant churches, or establish new communities or other ventures with those who are not yet disciples. Our Pioneer Track and equips them spiritually and practically for this crucial and demanding task.
The pioneer syllabus includes subject areas such as entrepreneurship, pioneering identity, starting and developing a pioneering venture, contextual mission, inhabiting the mixed ecology, church planting, improvising the tradition in changing contexts, leadership, and the theology of fresh expressions, ecclesiology and missiology.
We also explore disciplines and practices from the Christian tradition that may nurture the spiritual life of the pioneer, and engage with learning on the subject of innovation and imagination that emerges in other areas of human activity. All of this is grounded in the spirituality and practice of the Anglican tradition, enabling them to understand and engage with the breadth that is found in a mixed ecology church.
Non-Designated Ordained Pioneering Ministers
We are also committed to working with ordinands who don’t have an official ‘pioneer’ designation but who expect to serve God in pioneering contexts, doing new things in new ways. With the active support of their sending bishop and DDO, ordinands without an official pioneer designation are able to join the pioneer cohort for the weekly teaching and learning session.
To Find Out More
For more information about the Pioneer track at Ridley Hall, please contact our Tutor for Pioneering, the Revd Andrew Dunlop.
- Potential Theological Educators
The Gift of Teaching
Ridley Hall seeks to educate and form all its students for the ministries God is calling them to within the wider Church and the world. One of these callings for those training for ordination is to be a theological educator, one who exercises a significant gift of teaching in the service of the whole Church.
If you believe that you are being called to be a Theological Educator, you should discuss this with your DDO as part of your discernment process. If this seems the right calling for you, your Selection Process will recommend you for training as a Potential Theological Educator (PTE).
As an ordained minister, this gift might be exercised in a theological college, within a diocesan education programme, or in the chaplaincy of a university. Whatever the context, those called to this ministry are being asked to contribute to the life of the Church as scholarly theologians.
Ridley Hall has a long tradition of nurturing theological educators through its long-standing connections to the University of Cambridge and, more recently, its offering of the Common Awards through the University of Durham.
To Find Out More
For more information about our training options for future theological educators, please contact our Tutor in Admissions for Ordinands, the Revd Dr Olga Fabrikant-Burke.