Oli Hedger is an ordinand studying at St Mellitus College, South West. Below, he answers a few questions.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am the husband of a beautiful wife and the father of 4 amazing children. I live in Plymouth in stunning Devon. I am studying at the South West centre as an ordinand on the 3 year BA pathway. Before entering study I was working as a bricklayer in the construction industry.
What drew you to study at St Mellitus College?
What drew me was the nature and format that the study would take. The ‘in context/mixed mode’ shape of training meant that I did not have to uproot my family to a different part of the country. I was able to engage seriously with academic study and ministerial formation without the addition of unsettling my whole family.
What has been a highlight of your studies?
A highlight has definitely been the opportunity to study in a rigorous but also worshipful and devotional setting. It’s an environment that always seeks to search for the implications of study not only for a life of church ministry but in the Christian walk.
How have you been supported during your time at St Mellitus College?
There have been wonderful mutual support from students and staff especially from the chaplains who are very proactive in reaching out. I was pleased to find out also that there was also a support group for parents raising children with additional needs. We have been able to pray, listen to one another and offer empathy and camaraderie. It has also been a helpful place for people to ask for advice especially information regarding where extra resources could be found.
Why did you choose to train for ordination at St Mellitus College?
The mode of study suited me and my family in our stage of life. The appeal was that I would be able to study this way without commitment to academic rigour being compromised. I also knew that a college that provided for people from many other traditions and expressions of the church would only serve to challenge my assumptions and deepen my faith.
How was your leadership shaped by your studies?
The Coronavirus pandemic has been difficult for everyone and beginning my studies in this situation has helped me understand the need for fortitude and adaptability in leadership. Hearing from others who are adapting their ministries and leadership styles to continue to serve the church has been a great aid in being shaped and sharpened.
It’s an environment that always seeks to search for the implications of study not only for a life of church ministry but in the Christian walk.
How has your training impacted your ministry now?
It has not been just the lectures, reading and essays that has impacted my ministry but training alongside people who do not share all my convictions and preferences. This has made me be more sensitive to how I can better serve people around me without assuming that I know where they are at. But has also made me more confident in other areas of my faith and ministry.
What would you advise people looking for somewhere to train?
I would say look for a place that will both challenge your preconceived ideas but also lead you toward greater confidence and love for Christ. As you look for somewhere to train consider the impact of choosing the centre on those who are close to you. God has you are called as husband/wife, father/mother, son/daughter etc before you are a theological student.