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Regions win praise for course

28 March 2012

by a staff reporter

THE Eastern Region Ministry Course (ERMC) and its two dio­cesan counterparts have won praise from inspectors for facing up to important challenges and coming together to form a partnership.

Inspectors from the Church of England’s Ministry Division com­mended the ERMC — which works closely with the diocesan courses of Norwich and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich — for having kept “the vitality and buoyant spirit of the student bodies and maintained a programme of training that has much that is very good”.

Overall, they concluded that they had confidence in the course — but with reservations in some areas.

The ERMC currently trains Anglican candidates for stipendiary and self-supporting ministry from six English dioceses, and from the diocese in Europe, as well as candidates for ordained local ministry from Norwich and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich dioceses, and Readers from those two dioceses.

Like many other theological courses and colleges, it had faced significant chal­lenges in recent years, par­ticularly with regard to funding, and through a reduction in student numbers, the inspectors said.

But they were impressed by “a community at ease with itself . . . and engaging creatively with an educational programme that they found demanding yet fulfilling”.

Some further work was needed where there was duplication bet­ween the three courses, variations in teaching quality, and weak financial planning.

The Bishop of Dunwich, the Rt Revd Clive Young, speaking on behalf of the Governing Councils, said: “We shall be building on the areas commended, and have already begun work on addressing the areas highlighted for development by the inspectors, particularly in business planning for ERMC amidst financial uncertainties and challenges. . . We are committed to growing the ministry the churches will need in the next ten years.”

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