Presbyterian college to go into partnership with Catholic university after split from QUB
A recommendation will be put to the annual meeting of the church’s leadership meeting this summer for Union Theological College (UTC) to enter a validation relationship with St Mary’s University, Twickenham.
QUB severed ties with the UTC last year, citing a list of shortcomings it claimed in the management of the college. However the church claimed that the issues had only been considered to be of a critical nature after the church leadership voted to exclude people in same sex relationships from full membership of the church - and to exclude their children from baptism.
Rev Trevor Gribben, General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, said: “Following a detailed process and discussions, it will be recommended to this year’s General Assembly that a new undergraduate partnership should be developed with St Mary’s University, Twickenham, through a validation arrangement. Such a partnership, once agreed by the General Assembly and St Mary’s, has the potential to lead to a new and exciting future for Union College. This was the aspiration of last year’s General Assembly, especially in terms of flexibility for training in ministry, an increased student experience and broader academic outcomes.”
He said the vision for UTC includes three strands: “First, equipping students for effective ministry within PCI, secondly, the provision of post graduate programmes and thirdly preparing students for making effective and positive contributions to society. To achieve fully these goals, an undergraduate programme is necessary and the recommended way forward is through a validation arrangement with another UK institution.
UTC principal, Very Rev Professor Stafford Carson noted both institutions were founded in the 1850s and “both have their own distinct confessional identities within a broad Christian ethos”.
“The proposed validation arrangement, which needs to be discussed and approved at this year’s General Assembly, would preserve Union’s confessional identity and control of its own academic programmes,” he said. “Just as importantly, it would also restore the option for young people from all backgrounds, including different denominations from across Northern Ireland, to study theology together at an undergraduate level.”