Article of the week: Graduates triumph over lockdown woes
19 March 2022
Major Paul Hilditch recognises officer students
THE magnificent setting of York Minster hosted the graduation ceremonies for York St John University, which included officer students of Cohort 6 of the Christian Theology and Practice programme, reports Major Paul Hilditch (WBC).
Since 2009 the School for In-Service Training and Development (SISTAD) has maintained a partnership with the university to provide higher education for officers at degree level. This arrangement has supported more than 90 officers gaining either a bachelor’s degree with honours or a graduate diploma.
Nine of the eighteen graduating officer students gathered and were presented with their awards by the pro chancellor, Dame Julia Unwin. The cohort represented a range of corps officers from across the territory, a regional chaplaincy officer and officers from the Finance Department and Mission Service. Family and friends were also in attendance to support and applaud them on their considerable achievements.
‘Fanfare for Graduation’ by Thomas J Crawley announced the entry of the academic procession, which took place while the university choir sang Sir Hubert Parry’s setting of Psalm 122, ‘I Was Glad’. The university’s vice chancellor, Professor Karen Bryan OBE, announced the congregation open and each student was presented to receive their award.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was acknowledged in each of the speeches, as the delivery of all courses was modified. The specific impact on the Christian Theology and Practice programme was that two thirds of the course was delivered without face-to-face contact. The course is delivered by the SISTAD staff team at William Booth College. It is designed for officers in ministry to develop their skills in biblical hermeneutics, contemporary theology, emerging church, spirituality and Christian engagement with ethical issues.
A range of teaching and learning strategies challenges officers to upskill in key areas for ministry. This, along with a self-designed assessment, completes the course, which aims to integrate knowledge, experience and skill in contemporary ministry.
The course runs over a two-year period with week-long residential events taking place three times a year. The students’ considerable commitment to the course is supported and facilitated by the tutor team and other staff, most of whom are part-time practitioner tutors at William Booth College.