Hannes Ramsebner writes below about why you should consider coming and training with us. Hannes has spent the past few years training with us and studying at Union School of Theology. This summer on July 9th we will be commissioning him as he returns to Austria to begin work as an assistant pastor.
I am very excited that Union School of Theology is now offering a West Birmingham learning community based at Bearwood Chapel with Dave Williams as lead mentor. Here are two reasons why: (1) I have had the privilege and pleasure to be a part of Bearwood Chapel for the last five years and (2) I have spent three of these years training for ministry with Union School of Theology. Let me tell you about my story and why I think that this combination is a great opportunity for someone interested in training for gospel ministry.
I first came to Bearwood about five years ago as a member of a short-term missions team. It did not take long for me to get to know the area and feel at home with the church, which is why I was glad that I could stay there as a ministry trainee. During that time I was able to look into the various ways that Bearwood Chapel is trying to reach the community with the gospel. As it became clear that I could benefit from further theological training, the church supported me in the decision to study at Union. Back when I started my course, the learning communities were only in the process of being set up. As it was possible for me to move to Bridgend, I decided to commit to the full-time three-year BA course on campus. Now at the end of my course Bearwood Chapel is sending me out again – this time not to Wales but even further afield, to my native Austria where I will be working as an assistant pastor. The past few years with Bearwood Chapel and Union have been invaluable in equipping me and I am looking forward to what God has in store in Austria!
One thing that makes Bearwood Chapel unique is its location in Smethwick, where the Black Country meets Birmingham. There is a special feel to the place, an urban environment with people from many different backgrounds and languages, but just as many needs. Over the last few years it has been a delight to see the church more and more reflect the local diversity. Bearwood Chapel is reaching many members of the community, but there is still much to do. This is a great place for anyone interested in urban ministry and church planting. Personally, I have benefitted a lot from the privilege of hands-on training and pastoral mentoring.
Studying at Union helped me to further reflect on the issues raised in my time as a ministry trainee and to be made aware of those I had not considered! I had to think through challenging subjects in an academic setting whilst being guided by a faculty that does not neglect personal and pastoral issues. Add to that a great year-group with a supportive network of students and you get a very rewarding training programme! These are of course all aspects that the Union learning communities reflect – great academic teaching, pastoral mentors, and of course learning in community. As it is a part-time course you might want to use the opportunity for further involvement in a local church. Why not at Bearwood Chapel and Union’s new West Birmingham learning community?