Reviewing Unitarian College

I’m trying to understand the new Unitarian College, formerly a residential ministerial training college in Manchester and now (2019) a non-residential and broader training college for the General Assembly of Unitarians and Free Christian Churches, in Great Britain,  and perhaps others. My interest is in the ministerial training role, and in the institutional and economic sustainability of the venture.

This is not an analysis of it, but only my “open notebook” of details I’ve found: mainly their new website and notes taken from a video of an introductory lecture, given at the Unitarian and Free Christian annual meeting, back in April.

First, the website, but also the ministry training student handbook (PDF) and the list of thirty-two required competencies from the General Assembly website (PDF). Their application is also helpful (PDF).

I’m also referring to the video “Unitarian Ministry Training” presented by the National Unitarian Fellowship; I have not watched it in full; rather, I read the auto-generated transcript and made notes of what I think are the interesting parts.

  • 8:45. Is non-geographical
  • 9:09. There are residential lessons
  • 11:42. Program will take two years full-time or up to five years part-time
  • 11:55. There is a required academic theological qualification
  • 12:02. Two required placements in Unitarian congregations
  • 18:48. “Ministry Strategy Group” for the GA: how lay leaders are trained, which can build on the one before it
  • 26:26. Dr. Rob Whiteman is helping with two modules: Unitarian history, and the other legal and government
  • 28:15. “Placement assessor” to observe ministry students in their placements, perhaps a retired minister
  • 33:32. £150,000 a year to run the college; more if it grows
  • 33:54. Generous giving, “pump priming” from General Assembly; possible NSPCI students
  • 34:34. Online history module based on Len Smith’s book
  • 37:50. Training related to the National Youth Program
  • 41:22. One-third of the churches in the GAUFCC have fewer than ten members and two-thirds have fewer than twenty
  • 42:18. GA selects ministry trainees; growth is possible.

Hymnbook panel slated for 2009 UK AGM

That is, next year’s Annual General Meeting of the [British] General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches will have a “hymnb[oo]k panel” on Thursday, April 16, to be held in Chester

That’s about right. The official hymnal, Hymns for Living dates to 1985 and the unofficial but popular (and one I like much) Hymns of Faith and Freedom dates to 1991. Conventional wisdom states a hymnal’s expected lifespan is 30 years, and can take several years to develop.

Lay preacher training, this time Unitarian

I got a copy of The ABC’s of Lay Preaching, a recent product of the Midland Union of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches that looks very promising. It isn’t a long read, but my flight-wearied eyes haven’t been able to give it justice to day.

I’ll read it and review it ASAP.

A quick Google search shows it is being, or has been, used at Birmingham (New Meeting) Evesham (Oat Street Chapel), and (it seems) Oxford (Manchester College Chapel).

There’s a nice bio and “desert island hymn list” about one of the training participants, putting a face on a slice of Unitarianism little known on this side of the Atlantic. (By the way, Anglicans Online are asking its readers to submit their desert island favorite this week. I chose “Eternal ruler of the ceaseless round.”)

2008 April 24. Information about it is available online, but I think it would be very hard for anyone outside the UK to order it.