A new term begins

A new term begins

NEWS

The start of a new term is a busy and exciting time of year in the life of the college. This year we had much to praise and give thanks to God for.

Interest in the BA(Hons) Theology (Youth and Community) based in Parkhead has grown. This term eight new students have joined the returning second year students in September, and there are also people attending individual classes. SSCM’s students joined with Nazarene Theological College students in Manchester at the start of term for an ‘intensive’ introduction to the course.

Meanwhile, in August a group of young people based in Dunoon started a PDA inYouth
Work
, and Perth Council has sponsored students on an HNC Working with Communities unit looking at Community Capacity Building. That course was completed mid-October at the start of term and the students are already asking about delivery of the next unit! It is fantastic to collaborate with local partners to make this happen has been.

In September we were privileged to have Bob Ekblad lead a student and staff seminar. Bob and Gracie Ekblad are founders and co-directors of Tierra Nueva in Burlington, Washington. Bob is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and is known internationally for his courses on reading the Bible. He also serves as Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Westminster Theological Centre. Bob skilfully unpacked scripture for us in a fresh way while weaving insights from his own ministry among marginalised people. Our thinking was challenged and minds stimulated, but more than this, God worked on our hearts as we considered our own ministry and participation in mission in the light of Bob’s teaching.

Bob was also our speaker at the Commissioning Service for the start of the new academic year. It was good to gather, as students, staff, members of our board of directors and friends of SSCM, to praise God for all that He is doing and commit ourselves afresh to God. We were delighted to have Alia Pike from Nazarene Theological College in Manchester with us to bring their greetings and prayers.

We also celebrated with our first graduate, Jen Fraser, who gained a CertHE Theology (Pioneer Ministry). Alistair MacIndoe and Judy White interviewed Jen to find out the exciting things she is involved with and to pray for her that she would continue to know God’s blessing in all that she does.

Brodie MacGregor
Dean
Scottish School of Christian Mission

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Join us for a reception and service of thanksgiving

Join us for a reception and service of thanksgiving

NEWS

Join us to celebrate 125 years of equipping people for mission, and look forward with us to the future.

You are warmly invited to a reception and service of thanksgiving for 125 years of the Scottish School of Christian Mission which began in 1892 as the Bible Training Institute. Join us to celebrate 125 years of equipping and training people for ministry and mission.

21st November 2017, 7pm for 7.15pm
Òran Mór, Byres Road,
Glasgow G12 8QX

Welcome drink on arrival; coffee and light buffet to conclude. We hope to see previous staff, former students and supporters of SSCM at the celebration. Please tell us for catering purposes if you are planning to come along.

RSVP by email or telephone 0141 552 4040.

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Re-envisioning SSCM…  Equipping for mission

Re-envisioning SSCM…  Equipping for mission

NEWS

Significant birthdays and times of transition both tend to engender nostalgia, a backward look to the “good old days”, and conversations that start with, “Remember when…?”

Scottish School of Christian Mission has both a significant birthday this year and is living through a time of transition as long-serving staff go and new staff arrive (or return!)
The birthday has given us an excuse to root through our archives, and we have unearthed some very stern looking graduation photos from the turn of last century along with some amazing statistics about where our graduates went to serve.

Alongside that there are more recent – well, mid-eighties! – application forms with photos attached. Some now well-known Christian leaders from across Scotland looking fresh-faced and eager as they applied to BTI to study! Today you can get in touch far more quickly and easily through our online Enquire Now process.

It has been a good time for the Board and staff team to take time to re-articulate our vision for the college, and to recognise the rich heritage in our roots. As we spent time in the lovely surroundings of the Bield near Perth earlier this month, the team found themselves echoing the language of the vision statement of BTI – Biblical, practical training to equip men and women for mission, whether at home or in the workplace, in the community or further afield.

Collaboration is important to us, as is clearly demonstrated in the various partnerships in existence and being developed. We want to be innovative in our thinking and practice, keeping our own learning and the courses we deliver useful and relevant. Most importantly, we are inspired by our missional calling, bringing the transformative Kingdom of God into our lives, our churches and our communities.

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What does a McVitie’s digestive biscuit have in common with Scottish School of Christian Mission?

What does a McVitie’s digestive biscuit have in common with Scottish School of Christian Mission?

NEWS

Both were birthed 125 years ago.
125 years ago.
That’s before the World Wars, the internet, jet travel, TV, and of course, the mobile
phone.
In 1892 the Bible Training Institute (BTI) was established in Bothwell Street in Glasgow with the premise of equipping men and women for mission. The original Vision Statement says:

It is not intended to compete with the various theological halls where students are trained for the ministry, but for the practical instruction of Christian Workers both men and women, so as to qualify them for efficient service in the home or foreign field….especially in the knowledge and use of the word of God.1

BTI, as it became affectionately known, shares its birth year with McVities, GEC and Coca Cola – all companies which have had to reinvent themselves on multiple occasions to survive and thrive.

From 1892 it was BTI; in 1990 it became Glasgow Bible College (GBC); in 1998 following a merger with Northumbria Bible College, the combined colleges were known as International Christian College (ICC), until 2015, when its current incarnation as the Scottish School of Christian Mission (SSCM) started.

Weathering 125 years of service by changing courses, names and locations indicates a resilience and willingness to stay relevant. There is much to be thankful for and SSCM continues the legacy of BTI, equipping people for mission for the 21st century.

According to the Journal of Entrepreneurship, innovation, rebranding and marketing are key in adapting to staying current2. Whilst the God of the Bible, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are unchanging, over these past 125 years societal norms and prevailing culture have dramatically altered. Our innovative approaches, with practise-based, reflective learning, ensures that our courses are relevant to contemporary life and culture.

We work collaboratively with people, projects and ministries in equipping individuals and churches to fulfil their purpose/mission in bringing God’s loving transformation to our world, whether that’s in the workplace, neighbourhood or Church.

A 125th Anniversary Celebration Event is being held on Tuesday 21st November at the Òran Mór, the college’s former building on Byres Road. It would be lovely see you there and to connect afresh, to hear your stories, memories of BTI, GBC or ICC and to engage with the future in equipping the next generations for mission. Hope to see you in November.

Judy

Rev Judy White
Director of Development
Scottish School of Christian Mission
Former GBC student

1 BTI launch programme, 1892
2 Journal of Entrepreneurship January 2017

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Graduate dissertations and theses now available online

Graduate dissertations and theses now available online

Library NEWS

The Grogan Library aims to be a key specialist theological resource here in Scotland, but also serving the world. We have now added to our online offer, providing full-text access to dissertations and theses written by graduates of all the former colleges of SSCM.

This includes BA(Hons), MA, PhD, and Cambridge Diploma theses and dissertations produced by graduates of International Christian College, Glasgow Bible College, the Bible Training Institute, Northumbria Bible College, and Lebanon Missionary Bible College, going back as far as the 1970s. This excellent resource provides access to in-depth research in all aspects of theology and Christianity, with a focus on mission and local studies.

Here are some sample dissertations that are already available to read online:

  • Towards a Christian Understanding of the Concept of Suffering
  • Drug Abuse in Glasgow: A Christian Response. Towards an understanding of Glasgow’s drug culture and the development of a strategy to reduce the number of drug-related deaths in the city
  • Fighting for God? Islamic Fundamentalism and Violence: Origins, Implications and Possible Faith-Based Responses
  • Faith Without Deeds is Dead: how might the evangelical church best display the compassion of God as it lives and works in its local community?
  • Understanding and Helping the Self-Harmer: how can the Christian best understand self-harm and effectively help the self-harmer?
  • Maintenance and Mission:  Enabling Declining and Ageing Congregations to Care for Themselves and be Mission-Focused

All these papers have been scanned in pdf format and are available to be read online. They can be found through the Grogan Library catalogue. Full access is restricted to members of the Grogan Library.

Over 170 dissertations and theses are already available for viewing online, and over 400 will eventually be uploaded and made available to members.

Find out more about the Grogan Library Readership Scheme.

(Dis)abilities? Wellness, children and young people, and the church

(Dis)abilities? Wellness, children and young people, and the church

NEWS YOUTH AND COMMUNITY

In April, SSCM held its first training day conference for children’s and youth workers. It focused on issues faced by children and young people with physical and mental health needs and disabilities.

The day gave insight into Scottish government policy, particularly GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) and how this applies to church activity, and considered how to offer a more welcoming, connected and inclusive church.

Educational psychologist Fiona Williams explored the wellbeing of young people in Scotland, focusing on external factors which contribute to their exclusion from society. Fiona then considered the psychological issues which face young people, discussing the importance of developing resilience. The church has clear opportunities to contribute to friendships, positive values, and other factors that improve the mental wellbeing of young people by taking an interest in their lives.

Later, we were led in worship by Matthew Goode, a blind teenager with cerebral palsy. With the help of his family, Matthew demonstrated multi-sensory worship in a truly unique way.

The day was very informative and encouraging for leaders who were looking to improve the accessibility and acceptance of young people and children with additional support needs.

Find out more about our courses for children’s and youth workers.

Experience the new Community Work taster course, in Perth in autumn 2017

Experience the new Community Work taster course, in Perth in autumn 2017

NEWS YOUTH AND COMMUNITY

What is it?
An entire course on Community Capacity-Building that is being delivered as a taster unit.

Who is it for?
Ideal for anyone in a voluntary or employed role in church or community-based work, this HNC taster course allows you to learn with less travel.

What will it do?
It will guide and develop your practice in a variety of church and community-based settings.  It also counts as one of the 9 units of the HNC in Working with Communities.

How long does it take?
The taster course takes 7 weeks, on Tuesday evenings from the end of August to October 2017.

How much does it cost?
The cost for the taster unit is £225. There may be a small bursary available to cover part of the cost.

Where will it take place?
The course will take place at Perth North Church of Scotland, 209 High Street, Perth, PH1 5PB.

Contact Brodie McGregor to find out more.

Photo credit: Kenny Lam/Visit Scotland
Brodie McGregor appointed as Academic Dean

Brodie McGregor appointed as Academic Dean

NEWS

We are pleased to announce that Brodie McGregor has been appointed as the new Academic Dean of Scottish School of Christian Mission. As the successor to Graeme McMeekin, Brodie will be responsible for the leadership, oversight and management of all the college’s courses in Scotland, whether the undergraduate and postgraduate courses offered through our collaboration with Nazarene Theological College or the SQA-accredited courses like the HNC Working with Communities.

Originally from the East End of Glasgow, where the college is now located, Brodie has a first-class BA(Hons) in Theology from International Christian College and an MTh and PhD from the University of Edinburgh. His PhD research in political theology gave consideration to the propriety of suffering as a category in political thought. A former quantity surveyor and youth pastor at Queens Park Baptist Church in Glasgow, Brodie also served as a visiting lecturer in theology at ICC. We are delighted that he is now able to join the college’s leadership team on a permanent basis, starting in early April.

Brodie commented, “I am delighted to be joining the team at SSCM as Academic Dean and am excited about the opportunity to shape the academic programmes of the school and to work with the students, lecturers and staff. I am looking forward to being part of a great team that will help train and equip people as they seek to serve God faithfully and be a blessing to the church and their communities”.

SSCM Principal Richard Tiplady added, “Brodie’s intelligence, acumen and commitment to creative theological education are a great addition to the leadership of the college. We look forward very much to the contribution he will make to the future shape of SSCM and its role in serving and equipping Christians to make the good news of Jesus Christ known in Scotland today”.

Judy White appointed as Director of Development

Judy White appointed as Director of Development

NEWS

We are delighted to announce that Rev Judy White will take on the newly-created role of Director of Development.  In recent years Judy has been responsible for helping churches discern their mission at home and abroad for the Baptist Union of Scotland and BMS World Mission.  In her work for SSCM she will be using her extensive skills, experience and knowledge to engage with church leaders and help to foster the College’s partnerships across denominations.

Judy said, “Life is an adventure and at the moment we are in fairly turbulent times. We need each other, to listen, to share, and to act humbly as we face a changing world. I’m excited, as I think that SSCM offers an opportunity to wrestle together with what this means as we minister to a waiting world”.

Richard Tiplady, SCCM’s Principal added, “To have someone of Judy’s calibre working alongside me to explore and create opportunities for growth is fantastic.  We are reminded of God’s faithfulness and grateful for His provision.”

Judy’s post is a 12-month part-time appointment and starts with immediate effect.

Shaped by Mission – Journeying from SSCM to Tearfund

Shaped by Mission – Journeying from SSCM to Tearfund

NEWS

We are shaped by mission!  This is a bold statement that has set me thinking bringing with it a litany of questions including:
– Are we really shaped by mission?
– Are we shaped by particular types of mission?
– What happens if we are not being missional?

I recently read a book[1] where it describes mission as a two-way conversion process[2].  Sometimes when we carry out mission, we expect to go out with our message of good news, encounter those in material or spiritual poverty, and expect them to be ‘converted’ and then walk away ourselves unchanged.  The premise of this book, however is that as we encounter those that we are reaching, both parties walk away changed.

For the last 17 years, I have been involved in mission work on a full-time basis (although not always working for Christian organisations), primarily in the UK and each one of those encounters have changed me.  With each role I have learned new things, but more importantly every person I have encountered has made an impact on my very identity.

As a church-based youth worker, I can name many young people (some of which are in their thirties now!) who impacted upon who I am. Two of them are Gareth and Reece[3], two brothers who lived in a council estate just outside Glasgow suffering absolute poverty.  Both parents were addicts and life for them was a constant struggle to bring order into the chaotic lives of their parents.  As we carried out healthy cookery courses with them, they learned how to provide meals for their families, whereas I learned so much about resilience and the need to listen to those whose lives were much harsher than my own.

Working in Restorative Justice (victim-offender mediation), I had the opportunity to enter into the lives of many young people who had come to the attention of the legal system.  For some of these young people, it was apparent that they had resorted to offending because of damaged relationships.  For others, the offence itself damaged the relationship.  I clearly remember one particular day when a teenage Indian girl was meeting with myself and the manager of a local shop, from which she had stolen some make-up.  The meeting itself was somewhat unremarkable and was typical of a meeting involving a ‘corporate victim’, such as a retail chain.

At the end of the meeting, the girl’s father, who had not been part of the mediation, arrived and wanted to have a word with me.  In that small room, with just two of us, he weeped.  It is not often that I have sat with someone in their fifties, from a completely different cultural background, as they wept tears of mourning for their daughter who was in the next room.

This father owned a shop.  The means of provision for his family was through his shop.  This father had tried to instil values in his daughter about how livelihoods depended on shops.  For that father, stealing cosmetics was not just theft, it was the daughter turning her back on their family values and all that was important to them.  That day I carried out a second mediation, between father and daughter.  The father opened up to his daughter for the first time and the daughter experienced the raw emotional response that her otherwise proud father had.

Even as a supposedly impartial mediator, I was changed that day.  I learned something incredible about being a vulnerable father and the importance of communicating with those closest to us.  Likewise, I learned something about the pain that our creator must have every time we treat others wrongly or are unjust in our actions.

For the last 12 years or so, I have been called to the unusual mission field of a Christian college.  In a college, you are not in the business of the conversion of non-believers, but rather believers.  This conversion is not about convincing them of the existence of God, but rather about trying to enable them to see God for who God really is, rather than our own perception of God.  My particular calling has also been to enable students to understand what mission is within the Scottish context and how this can be done in an empowering, humanising and God-honouring way.  As I have carried out this role, I have been changed by my encounters with staff, students, young people in placements, and many others.

When I arrived at ICC in 2004, originally taking on a part-time post supporting students on placement, I was a very different person from who I am in 2017.  I started as a very naïve Christian with virtually no understanding of theology and having a piecemeal understanding of what a theology of mission is.  Leaving in 2017, I certainly have a more rounded understanding of who God is and his purposes and a passion for the Bible and what we can learn about ourselves and God through it.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the college and have learned a great deal.  I also hope that I have had an impact in enabling students, staff and supporters to think through how think theologically about youth work and community development.  However I believe that I am now called to a new mission field in which I will both have an impact and be impacted.

In March, I will be taking on a new role as the Head of Church Development (Scotland) with Tearfund.  Those who know me well will know that I have been a supporter of Tearfund for the last 7 years or so and been involved in many levels, whether this be as a volunteer speaker, community fundraiser or on their Scottish Advisory Group.  In this role, I am hoping to continue to inspire the local Church to be missional, whether this be at a local or international level.

In this new role, I believe that I am called to listen.  Called to listen to the local Church in Scotland and respond to what is important to them in mission.  Likewise I believe I am called to listen to the Church beyond Scotland, and particularly in the global south, to learn lessons from them on mission and development that can be shared with the Church in Scotland.

Please pray for me as I step into this new role and as I continue to be changed by mission that as I continue to be transformed by mission, that that transformation will have an impact on the wider Church.

God who sets us on a journey
to discover, dream and grow,
lead us as you led your people
in the desert long ago;
journey inward, journey outward,
stir the spirit, stretch the mind,
love for God and self and neighbour
marks the way that Christ defined.

Exploration brings new insights,
changes, choices we must face;
give us wisdom in deciding,
mindful always of your grace;
should we stumble, lose our bearings,
find it hard to know what’s right,
we regain our true direction
focused on the Jesus light.

End our longing for the old days,
grant the vision that we lack –
once we’ve started on this journey
there can be no turning back;
let us travel light, discarding
excess baggage from our past,
cherish only what’s essential,
choosing treasure that will last.

When we set up camp and settle
to avoid love’s risk and pain,
you disturb complacent comfort,
pull the tent pegs up again;
keep us travelling in the knowledge
you are always at our side;
give us courage for the journey,
Christ our goal and Christ our guide.

Graeme McMeekin
Vice-Principal

[1] Collier, J & Esteban, 1998, From Complicity to Encounter: The Church and the Culture of Economism, Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Publishing
[2] “Through this encounter [as mission] others are invited to share in the Christian faith experience in such a way that their religious and cultural past is reformed around that experience.  At the same time, this encounter challenges the cultural presuppositions of the missionaries themselves.  The model of conversion implied by this understanding of mission therefore implies both a symmetry and mutuality” (p83) – I am still processing to what extent I would hold to the radical claims of these authors, but I do think that we are at least changed in mission.
[3] All the names mentioned in this blog are pseudonyms other than my own.