The Prince of Wales visited St Paul’s Onslow Square today to meet staff and students of the country’s newest and fastest-growing Anglican theological college – St Mellitus College, London.
He was accompanied by the Bishop of London who founded the college jointly with the Bishop of Chelmsford in 2007.
Named after the first Bishop of London, St Mellitus College has pioneered innovative ‘on the job’ training courses which place greater emphasis on students working on church-based programmes as part of a community.
With 85 Church of England ordinands currently in training and around 300 lay people taking courses, it is already one of the biggest colleges in the country.
The Prince was welcomed to the College by the Dean, Dr Graham Tomlin, who invited him to take part in a tutorial session with 10 students as they discussed the topic of forgiveness.
The College is based at St Paul’s, Onslow Square in the parish of Holy Trinity Brompton, and the Prince also met other church-based organisations and initiatives connected with the College, many of which form part of the student training programme.
The organisations covered youth, estates, prisons, schools, the environment and church planting.
The Prince was also hosted by Nicky Gumbel, Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton and pioneer of the Alpha course, which is now running in 163 countries around the world.
As part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of St Paul’s Onslow Square, the Prince unveiled a specially-commissioned plaque.
Welcoming the Prince, Dr Graham Tomlin said, ‘St Mellitus College has been an extraordinarily exciting venture to be part of for the past few years. It has brought together the wisdom of the diocese of London and Chelmsford, the vision of the Bishops, the energy, passion and commitment to excellence of HTB, one of the most dynamic churches in the country, and the willingness to work together of Christians from all parts of the church to create something genuinely new – a college that serves all parts of the church, is committed to building the confidence and wisdom of Christians across this region in their faith, and has had the chance to put in place new and dynamic ways of training, more attuned to the demands of life and the church in the 21st century…
‘We hope that today has demonstrated … much of the dedicated and inspiring work that is happening across London – churches renewed, lives turned around, communities renewed.’
The Bishop of London said, ‘The theme here is orthodox Christian faith which generates energy for transforming society.’ He paid tribute to the Prince’s own initiatives, saying, ‘We deeply honour the way in which you have brought together traditional wisdom, a deep faith and the real practical way in which, through so many of the Prince’s charities, society is being refreshed and renewed.’
In his speech, the Prince said, ‘I have enjoyed enormously hearing about your remarkable work in so many different areas, whether it is on the environmental front or with the youth or regenerating entire areas of London and elsewhere, or bringing churches back to life that have been derelict and redundant. I think that is truly wonderful and inspiring.
‘The fact that you are able to plant churches and help encourage congregations in some of these previously redundant, unused churches is enormously encouraging and I greatly admire Nicky Gumbel (and indeed his son – I’m so glad it is hereditary, this) for the work they are doing and for the work they are inspiring among so many of you.
‘I greatly admire the work that is being done here and I do look forward to seeing even more effect from what the ordinands and those who are ordained from here can achieve in different parts of the country. It is a wonderful example of what can be done and I can only salute the Bishop and all those here in the diocese of London for leading the way in this whole area. I hope you have great success in the future.’
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