Lindisfarne’s Vision Hailed

Lindisfarne Regional Training Partnership has been commended by the Church’s Inspectors for the creation of ‘an enthusiastic learning community’.

Lindisfarne was not yet one year old when the inspection process began last summer. The Venerable Peter Robinson, Chair of the Lindisfarne Board of Trustees, is delighted with the strong endorsement from the Church of England’s Ministry Division: ‘I pay tribute to the Principal and her staff, tutors and students on their hard work which achieved such a satisfying result. The inspection report and the action plan that will shortly be produced will give a strong steer for the RTP’s development over the next few years, building on its highly successful first eighteen months of operation’.

The report praises the overarching vision of Lindisfarne to grow the church through integrated provision of Education for Discipleship (EfD), ordination and Reader training, and IME 4-7. EfD and IME 4-7 are commended for their broad range of good quality learning opportunities that are well received by participants. The report observes that combining training for Readers and ordinands on one IME 1-3 programme ‘develops mutual understanding, encourages collaborative ministry, and is also more cost-effective’.

Later this year, Lindisfarne will begin to deliver Local Preacher Training for the Methodist Church. This is described as ‘a significant achievement and witnesses to Lindisfarne’s hard work and effective relationship-building’. The Revd Ruth Gee, Chair of the Darlington District of the Methodist Church looks forward to Methodist students joining Lindisfarne to train as Local Preachers. ‘The report affirms the very good partnership between Lindisfarne and the Methodist Church. The new course, which offers an alternative route to existing Local Preacher Training, has been enthusiastically received. This development has been made possible by the excellent working relationships between Lindisfarne, the Methodist Districts and the Wesley Study Centre in Durham’.

Those on the BA in Theology & Ministry programme are commended as ‘committed and dedicated students, from a wide variety of backgrounds and church traditions, who are developing into a supportive and enthusiastic learning community.’ This perception is confirmed by the students themselves. One Reader Trainee says: ‘The course is stretching me and enriching my faith, bringing together many threads in my life; I’ve fitted into this like a hand into a glove.’ A Baptist independent student agrees that studying as part of a group of students from different backgrounds is beneficial. ‘It gives me a broader understanding of the overall Christian faith, and that in itself is a good thing. Ideas are shared and all have a chance to join in the discussions – I am enjoying the course immensely’.

The report commends the significant expertise and experience of the Lindisfarne staff and associate tutors in the provision of well run educational programmes, with ‘many examples of good and excellent teaching, mentoring and support’. The core staff are also praised for their responsiveness to students’ concerns and their willingness to make changes to accommodate these concerns where appropriate.

Overall, the report affirms the RTP’s vision and practice: ‘It is clear that Lindisfarne values the life-experience of students and fosters a culture of ongoing reflection and theological development. We observed a strong sense of corporate loyalty and identity on Lindisfarne. Amongst its staff and students there is a positive rapport and atmosphere of mutual encouragement, as well as trust and confidence’. The report adds: ‘we hope that such an early first inspection and the ensuing report and recommendations will enable Lindisfarne to develop into a strong Regional Training Partnership equipped, focused and supported to achieve its vision’.

Among early responses to the report is that of the Bishop of Newcastle, The Rt Revd Martin Wharton: ‘I am delighted with all that Lindisfarne has managed to achieve in such a short space of time; it is a real asset to the Churches in the North East. It is good that the inspection report commends Lindisfarne as “a rare and excellent opportunity for collaborative working to achieve carefully planned complementary provision with appropriate differentiation”’.

The Principal, the Revd Canon Cathy Rowling said: ‘Preparing for a full Church inspection at such an early stage in Lindisfarne’s life was a major undertaking. This positive outcome has been achieved through the hard work and commitment of a dedicated staff team. I would also like to pay tribute to the enthusiasm of students across Lindisfarne for the programmes that it delivers. The inspectors have identified a number of areas for us to continue to develop, but it is pleasing that overall they have affirmed both the shape and the health of this multi-faceted training partnership’.

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