The Foundation Course is designed to meet a number of key needs within those who are either sensing or testing God’s call upon their life and who are enthusiastic to develop their own capacity for furthering God’ mission through his church in today’s world. For everyone it provides an extended opportunity to think through the implications of what a particular vocation may look like. Is it a call to ordination or to a particular expression of lay ministry? In either case, will this be to full–time or part–time ministry, and even is this is already subjectively clear, will the wider Church be ready to recognise it? For some, therefore, the Foundation Course will be a means towards the end of selection and training for ordination; for others it will be the opportunity to acquire new learning skills for a continuing and enhanced role in lay ministry.
Structure, Qualification and Access
The course is run over a period of 13 months in partnership with St. John’s College, Nottingham and comprises 3 distance–learning modules: Biblical Studies; Christine Doctrine in Focus; and Theological Perspectives: Christian Ministry. The Church of Ireland Theological institute sponsors candidates to study on the Graduate Certificate for Ministry through St John’s College Nottingham. By virtue of the rising levels of assessment, and with appropriate qualifications, it also serves the purpose of providing a key component of the access to the Professional MTheol (in partnership with Trinity College, Dublin) which forms the basis of Initial Ministerial Training for ordination within the Church of Ireland. Where this pathway is intended, it should be noted that satisfactory completion of the course is an essential requirement of the selection process for theological training.
Each of the three modules is introduced at either a weekend or a day conference held at the Theological Institute in Dublin. The dates for this year are as follows:
|24 – 26 February 2017||Introductory Weekend / Introduction to Module 1 ’Biblical Studies’|
|10 June 2017||Introduction to Module 2 ‘Christian Doctrine in Focus‘|
|04 November 2017||Introduction to Module 3 ‘Theological Perspectives: Christian Ministry‘|
The experience of distance–learning can be extremely isolating and for this reason such opportunities to meet up with others form an important network of support. During these day conferences the necessary folder/notes for each module will be available for collection. Attendance is therefore essential.
Support During the Course
St John’s will assign you a tutor for each module. S/he will be your primary point of contact (via email) for all academic matters, namely discussion of your work proposal and submission of your completed assignments. In addition to this, you should continue to receive pastoral support from you DDO and be a member of the Fellowship of Vocation – where there a number of students from any individual diocese, the intention is that the DDO should convene/organise a regular, collective gathering. From the perspective of the Institute, you will be asked to participate in a series of conference calls. The dates for these will be circulated after each of the day conferences and are timed to happen around the mid–way point of each module. They are an important means of monitoring progress as well as discussing particular difficulties.
Timing and Dates
Within each module target dates will be allocated for the completion of various assignments. There is some degree of flexibility in regard to earlier assignments, and you should keep both your academic tutor and the Institute informed of any changes in your circumstances which may have the consequence of delaying your submissions. The final completion date for each module, however, is not negotiable. If you have not completed all the assignments within each module by the final deadline given, your bishop will receive a formal letter stating that you are failing to keep up to the requisite pace of study. You should bear in mind that your diocese is sponsoring your participation in the Foundation Course and any possibility of being candidated for selection ultimately rests with your bishop.
Text Book Supply and Grants
You will be provided with a selection of the basic text books as required reading for each module. As a student on the Foundation Course you also have borrowing rights at the RCB Library and you can avail of this at any time during its regular opening hours (here). If you find that need to purchase books, certain dioceses are able to provide a modest level of grant assistance.