St Mellitus College

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Template:Infobox UK school St Mellitus College is a theological college established in 2007 for the Diocese of London and the Diocese of Chelmsford of the Church of England. It has campuses in Earl's Court, Chelmsford and Liverpool. There are two main parts, the North Thames Ministerial Training Course, which was set up in 1991 and St Paul's Theological Centre which began in 2005. The Dean is the Revd Dr Graham Tomlin. St Mellitus is a wholly non-residential college, which has pioneered mixed-mode training within the Church of England, integrating academic theological study with ministry placements throughout the course of study.


Named after the very first Bishop of London, whose territory covered London and Essex, the college was founded in 2007 by the Bishops of London and Chelmsford to serve the church’s mission in this region and beyond. In 2013, St Mellitus North-West was established at the St Aidan's Centre in Liverpool, reestablishing an Anglican training college in that area. This new venture is directed by the Rev Dr Jill Duff, and operates from Liverpool Cathedral.

Organisation and purpose

The college consists of two main parts, St Paul’s Theological Centre (SPTC) and the North Thames Ministerial Training Course (NTMTC) based in west London and Chelmsford. The college offers courses for many different kinds of students, for example: Anglican ordinands looking for full-time training; Anglican ordinands wanting to train part-time; lay workers and locally licensed ministers in churches; those in secular work who can take time off to study each week; church leaders from other denominations wanting to study theology and ministry more deeply, and youth ministry students working in a variety of settings.

Characteristics and values

The college intends that the key values that should mark out its training are:

  • Unity in diversity. The college states that it aims to work with all kinds of Christians and denominations within a "generous orthodoxy, drawing on the great tradition of Christian theology through the centuries."Template:Cn It also aims to be "open to the Holy Spirit's transforming power at work in the church and the world."Template:Cn
  • Innovation and accessibility. From its beginning, the college avers that it has been committed to developing new ways of doing theological training and finding innovative ways to make theology more available and accessible in the church
  • Theological excellence. St Mellitus has a teaching staff with extensive experience of theological teaching in colleges and universities. It draws on the expertise of visiting professors such as Alister McGrath, Keith Ward, Richard Bauckham Paula Gooder and Tom Greggs as well as a wide range of associate lecturers in the region, many of them national experts in their field, and well-known practitioners. The college's stated goal is to make first-rate theological teaching relate to the realities of life, mission and ministry in 21st century society.
  • Prayerful formation. The college wants its students to not only learn theology but also learn how to pray. Worship is celebrated in a variety of styles, held together by an expectation of encountering God.

Name and linkage to college mission

Template:Main The college is named after St. Mellitus, one of the least known but most significant figures in the establishment of the church in London and Essex – a key moment in the conversion of the British Isles.

At the end of the 6th century, inspired by his growing awareness of the needs of this far-flung part of Europe, Pope Gregory the Great sent a group of missionaries to the island of Britain. There had been Christian churches in the island since at least the 4th century, but the land was still largely pagan. This new mission was headed by Augustine, who quickly became a key figure in this new attempt to establish the faith and was appointed the first archbishop of the town of Canterbury in which the new mission was based. After a few years’ hard work, in AD 601 Augustine sent back to Rome asking for help in evangelising the mainly pagan East Saxon tribes. In response Gregory sent a small band of dedicated missionaries to help him, including its leader, Mellitus who was probably a well-off Roman nobleman and whose devotion to Christ had led him to enter the monastic life and later become abbot of the Monastery of St. Andrew on the Coelian Hill in Rome, to which both St. Gregory and St. Augustine had belonged. In 604, with the help of the Christian East Saxon King Saeberht, Mellitus was made the first bishop of the growing city of London, the capital of the East Saxons, with its new church dedicated to St Paul, built on Ludgate Hill at the heart of the city. His jurisdiction covered the city of London, but also the land to the east – what we know as Essex, or the two dioceses of London and Chelmsford.

As a result of the work of Mellitus and his friends, the church grew. Yet it was not without cost. After Saeberht died, his sons reverted to pagan worship. Seeing Mellitus celebrate the Eucharist one day, they demanded they be given the bread, as he had given it to their father, even though they had not the slightest commitment to Christ and his church. Mellitus refused it to them unless they were baptised and, as a result, Mellitus was banished from the kingdom, spending the next few years in Kent and then, from about 614, in Gaul or France. A year later, Mellitus was recalled to Britain by Laurentius, Augustine’s successor in Canterbury. He never returned to his former base in London, however, and in 619 he was appointed the third Archbishop of Canterbury after Laurentius’ death. Despite constant illness he continued in that role until his death in 624. Many miracles were said to have taken place as a result of his prayers, including the quelling of a dangerous fire in Canterbury which threatened to destroy the town and its churches. His story is told in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People (I, 29, 30; II, 3-7).

Recent Publications from Members of St Mellitus College

  • Looking Through the Cross - The Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent Book 2014 (Bloomsbury Continuum) - Graham Tomlin
  • Am I My Brother's Keeper? - Mark Scarlata
  • (soon to be released) A Brief Theology of Sport (SCM) - Lincoln Harvey
  • (soon to be released) Beyond Old and New Perspectives on Paul - Reflections on the Work of Douglas Campbell, - ed. Chris Tilling

External links