Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a second-year ordinand studying for a BA degree, merely being obedient to what I think God is telling me to do! I have been married to Aaron for 7 years and we have a 1.5 year old daughter.
What drew you to study at St Mellitus College?
I had heard lots of positive things about St Mellitus and whenever I interacted with anyone either online (it was the time of Zoom and lockdowns!) or via email, I always felt a sense of genuine interest, clarity and passion from whoever I was interacting with.
I ended up choosing St Mellitus to train for ordination because of the passion and enthusiasm of those on the staff team, as well as real care and consideration of you as the ordinand and those who are on the journey with you. Never was I discounted or spoken down to because I was a mother of a very young baby (at the time); instead I was recognised as an individual who had lots to offer and whose existence as a mother only added value to my ordination training and formation.
How would you describe the culture at St Mellitus College?
From my first week, I remember being told that if the studying and lectures do not lead me closer to Jesus, then it isn't being done right! This is apparent in the teaching through lecturers continually drawing us back to our relationship with God.
What has been your experience of training as a parent at St Mellitus College?
It has been an empowering experience for me because of the encouragement and support from those at St Mellitus - both staff and other students. My daughter and my husband have been recognised as an important part of my calling and as a result, I have felt like I don't need to hide any parts of my life from the training.
I am not going to lie - it is hard having a toddler as well as training both at the college and at my placement church, but I know that God has called me to be a wife and a mother, as well as an ordinand. There is such beauty in acknowledging these aspects of who I am as an ordinand and I would love others to recognise that in themselves too. I have to keep reminding myself that God doesn't call us to ignore or cut-off our lives in order to train but it is our full-on, messy lives that can really show the power and love of Christ.
What difference has being at St Mellitus College and your studies had on your life and faith?
Taking part in studying myself and seeing people who look like me teaching us has a had a significant impact on my life. Whereas I once didn't consider myself someone who could study theology, I am now seeing it as something that grows and develops my faith. I have enjoyed studying (to my surprise!) and look forward to wrestling with topics and theories that are being taught to us. The studies that I take part in are constantly being put into practice or challenged by the work that I am doing in my placement church - making everything come alive!
I think that St Mellitus College has encouraged me to be more curious, which is a more interesting and freeing place to be in. When I am curious in my daily life, it causes me to look at situations differently as well as interact wither others differently.
How is your leadership being shaped by your studies?
My leadership is developing as I put into practice the things that I am learning in my studies. Being able to consider and 'act out' the learnings from college means that my leadership is growing and changing for the better I think!
How have you been supported during your time at St Mellitus College?
The staff team at SMC have always shown care to me and my daughter who attended college in her early months - each kind word, helpful action and encouraging smile meant that I felt very supported in my first year. My formation group has been a place of support for me as I have been able to share with them as well as hear about their own lives. Practical support for my assignments has really helped to grow my enthusiasm for study too.
Aaron, my husband, has felt supported by the college as he has been able to attend residentials in order to look after our daughter. He has always been treated like a part of the college family despite not being a student himself.
What have you enjoyed the most about studying at St Mellitus College?
I love the genuine passion of the lecturers and the fact that we get to learn from them!
What would you say to a parent of young children considering training at St Mellitus College?
Do not rule yourself out. Ask all the questions that you have and be honest with what you need. Each of us can do what we are able to do and God is able to do more than we can imagine!
What will be your main take-away from your time here?
That the art and discipline of theological study is a way of being able to discover more of God - it is of the heart and not just the mind.
In three words describe your time at St Mellitus College
Unexpected, challenging and a gift (not 3 words but close!)
Jess is a second year ordinand on the full-time context based pathway based at our London Centre