Six years ago the idea of the Independent Theological Academy was born. Initially, the Academy took the form of evening classes in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. Then, in 1986, it moved to Wolverhampton and began full-time courses to train men for the Christian ministry. On 3 July the Academy held its first Graduation Service, when two or three-year diplomas in theology were presented to seven leaving students. In addition, evening class students received certificates in individual subjects.
The service was attended by a good number of supporters, including families, friends and members of local churches. This last category was especially encouraging, in view of the Academy’s emphasis on the participation of the student’s own church in the training process.
The students are entering various spheres of service, mainly in the pastoral ministry, but with one (lady) leaving for the mission-field in Spain in September. The message given by the special preacher, Rev. Geoff Thomas of Aberystwyth, was therefore particularly appropriate. He gave a stirring biblical description of the preaching ministry from 1 Corinthians 9:16: ‘Woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel’. He spoke of the divine constraint on the apostle Paul, which produced a humble sense of inadequacy before the living God, combined with divine compulsion, which enables the preacher to keep going against all discouragement. Such a preacher is consumed by his message, so that it takes priority over everything else.
The Academy’s next year will begin on Tuesday 31 August, when several new students are expected to join those already on the course. Enquiries and applications for the course should be sent to the Registrar at Westbury Chapel, Broad Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1JD.