Thanksgiving for rural training
14 May 2012
‘A life-changing and life-enhancing experience' was how one former student described his time training in six Wiltshire villages in Trinity's rural context, which came to a formal close yesterday with a service of thanksgiving.
Jonathan Lowe, now a curate in rural Essex, was one of the first students to opt for Trinity's context-based training in the Woodbridge group of churches near Malmesbury, when it started in 2008. He and three other former students from the context, all now curates in the Church of England (in the photo), returned to take part with current Trinity students and staff and the local congregations in a service at Lea, one of the six churches.
Both students and local people spoke in the service with affection and warmth of the time spent in partnership in the context. ‘It has enriched my ministry beyond words,' said the vicar, Canon Richard East, who along with Canon George Kovoor, Trinity's principal (who was the preacher at the farewell service), took the first steps to start the context. ‘I am thankful for all that we could do together.'
There was sadness that the context training in the villages is to end, but the feeling that this is the right time, along with great thankfulness for what has been, and hope for the future of the churches and of the students who have been so keen to be involved in the villages and to serve the churches.
The two clergy, Richard East and Derek Ormston, are about to retire. Two of the three context students will soon leave to be ordained, and the third is moving to a different Trinity context in Bristol.
The Bishop of Swindon, Lee Rayfield, who was at the opening service and has always enthusiastically endorsed the idea of context-based training, said how effective the teamwork had been.
The village churches were thanked by Revd David Wenham, the Trinity tutor who has had oversight of the context, for their generosity and hospitality to the students. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience, he said.
Trinity's context-based training, which began in 2006, enables students to do the practical part of their training as a group while living and working in a parish in the Bristol area. It is hoped to start another rural context in due course.
In the photo Canon George Kovoor, Trinity Principal (left), Canon Richard East, Vicar (right), with three former context students, all now ordained: Rachel Cook, Jonathan Lowe and Peter Kay.