Why Trinity College? Once Kayi and I were sure that God was calling us to 3 years of full-time theological study, the question we had to ask ourselves was, “Where too then?” There are literally hundreds of theological colleges, seminaries, bible schools, and ministry programmes running across the world. We were familiar with places like Hillsong College Australia, St. Mellitus London, Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in California, London School of Theology and Laidlaw College in New-Zealand to name but a few.
Yet despite this incredible, almost dazzling array of institutions to choose from, there was really only ever one place we would consider… and that’s the United Kingdom. A number of years back, a friend asked me how often I fly back to see my Father in Wales. I told him about once a year. He responded, “Better make the most of those trips then, you’ll probably see him less than ten times before he’s dead”. The severity of his words was eclipsed by the truth behind them. He had a point. My father was already approaching mid-seventees. Realistically speaking, how much time would we have with our parents?That short, sharp exchange transformed how my wife and I value the time we spend with our parents, all the more so, now that we have children ourselves; their grand children. If we were going to take 3 years to study anywhere in the world, why wouldn’t we want to be close to our family? Close to our loved ones and near our children’s grandparents.
Our search became local, and during our annual Summer vacation in 2014, we visited a couple of colleges in Wales and England. I found one I really liked, and had already began the application process with them by the time we had returned to Hong Kong, when I had another course-altering conversation with a different friend. This time, he asked me, “What’s the average age of the students entering the school”. I had no idea, but a quick google search indicated that the majority of students were fresh out of high-school – half my age! My friend challenged me on a different side of learning. The side that requires good, deep discussion. Discussion that is borne as much out of friendship as it is the quality of the academic material. A learning that happens in community. Further research revealed that the school had very little by way of support for spouses, children and family, and so my search began again. This time with a lot more patience and prayer.
And then we found Trinity College. Trinity is a based in Bristol. Apart from being a particularly beautiful part of the country, Bristol is only an hours drive from Kayi’s parents, who are just over the bridge in Cardiff. For those of you unfamiliar with British geography, England and Wales are distinct countries separated by a river called the River Severn. If we moved to Bristol we would be able to see our parents and also enjoy the support we so desperately missed, trying to raise a family in Hong Kong without any family around. The more I researched Trinity, the more excited we got. If you haven’t visited the Trinity website, you really ought to. It has earned a number of technological and web-awards since it was revamped a couple of years back. One of the striking characteristics of Trinity which permeates their website is the emphasis on Kingdom values. The beatitudes in Matthew 5, describe the key blessings and promises of the Kingdom and the character of those who live in it. These characteristics form the values of the college, which in turn shape the community aspect of their school, and it’s this that has really inspired us. Trinty’s current motto is, “Living like the Kingdom is near” and this is expressed in how the school prioritizes families, friendships and community. There are connect groups for spouses, small groups for students, nurseries for children and regular shared meal times for families, all weaved into the fabric of the school. I’ve since been introduced, often in divine ways, to former or current students of Trinity, and have begun to see a genuine love and care that I see being fostered at the school.
Another reason why Kayi and I are excited about studying at Trinity, is simply the quality of the faculty, teachers and programmes. Trinity is accredited by The University of Durham, which has a good reputation for theology. A number of the faculty are respected theologians and writers in their own right, and I am keen to sit under their teaching. Trinity is also known as a school that excels in mission and church planting. This area of ministry has sat on my heart for the last couple of years and yet is an area I have felt ill-equipped and inadequately experienced in to really make a difference. I look forward to exploring what it takes to plant a church, and learning what ‘a church’ really is in the first place. I look forward to studying church history and drawing from the accumulated wisdom (and failings) of the church through the ages. I consider it no coincidence, that before I started work at The Vine in 2008, I spent 3 months interning in a new church plant in London called St. Paul’s Shadwell under the leadership of Ric Thorpe. 9 years on, and I am delighted to hear that Ric Thorpe is the chief advisor to the Arch Bishop of Canterbury on Church Planting. Kayi and I are convinced that this is the place God has purposed for our learning, and we trust that God has already provided the community and context in which we to be planted, watered and grown.