Modern new home for Christian teaching in London
The new campus of leading UK theological college, St Mellitus, has been opened with a service of blessing by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, and the Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell.
The opening heralds a new phase for St Mellitus, allowing it not only to meet a rapidly rising number of applicants, but also to allow students from around the country to benefit from its courses through new state-of-the-art facilities for distance learning.
The success of St Mellitus reflects the trend of growing churches across London and the South East. For example, church membership in the Diocese of London has increased almost 13,500, up from 60,600 to 74,100, between 2003 and 2010.
St Mellitus College, which was named after the first Bishop of London, was jointly founded by the Dioceses of Chelmsford and London in 2007 and now serves 110 ordinands and around 400 other students from Chelmsford and the capital. Its new London base is St Jude’s Courtfield Gardens, a grade II listed former parish church that has undergone a £7.3 million conversion to serve the students of the college.
The Victorian brickwork and pulpit of St Jude’s, which was built in 1870, have all been preserved, offering a striking juxtaposition between old and new. The facilities include four lecture spaces, the largest of which can accommodate 300 people, five seminar rooms, as well as a new central library for students. This is an innovative new use of a Victorian church which both brings it to life again and symbolises the new growth and energy of the church in London and the south east.
The Revd Dr Graham Tomlin, Dean of St Mellitus College, said:
"We have been surprised and delighted by the growth of St Mellitus over the past five years. This new building will give our students fantastic facilities for study, community and worship. It helps the college move to a new stage of its life and opens up new possibilities for the college and for the wider church and community."
The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, said:
"St Mellitus was a missionary bishop who worked to make Jesus Christ known to the London of his day. This new institution is a vital part of our spiritual ambition in our own day to make Jesus Christ known and to build a civilisation of love."
The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, said:
"The generous orthodoxy of St Mellitus College provides an excellent training for those preparing for ordained ministry, offering flexibility and breadth in its full time and part time courses. In Chelmsford Diocese we have seen a marked increase in people in self-supporting ministry, our numbers rising from 68 in 2003 to 104 in 2010. Our partnership with St Mellitus has made a major contribution to that growth as we work to re-imagine ministry across Essex and East London."
St Mellitus offers full and part-time theological education and a number of unique courses, such as ordination training which is partly parish-based. St Mellitus has also just launched an innovative MA course in Christian leadership, which allows people to explore what Christianity means in the context of business, politics, the arts, the church and many other fields of life.