Bible Training in Belfast
Foundation Church Belfast’s ministry assistant Tim Purdue writes about his first year at Cornhill Belfast, a bible training course devoted to ‘Pursuing Excellence in Handling God’s Word.’
For those who don’t know me, my name is Tim Purdue. Before joining Foundation Church Belfast, I spent three years at Queen’s University Belfast doing my undergraduate degree in film studies. Following this I spent a year serving as an intern at the Church of Ireland chaplaincy and student residence at Queen’s – The Hub Belfast.
While much of my background and experience is in film and photography, God has spoken an undeniable yearning for ministry into my heart from a young age. My lifelong hero has always been my grandfather – a Church of Ireland minister of more than forty years. The thought of dedicating my life to the preaching of the glory of God and of the redemption found in Jesus Christ has always brought me unfathomable joy and excitement.
And by the heartwarming generosity and provision of the people of Foundation Church Belfast, I am able to attend Cornhill ministry training course during my service as part of the church. Cornhill Belfast can be studied over two full days per week part-time. Cornhill is not an assessed or certified course, it is simply an opportunity to explore and discuss the Word of God in an in-depth and open environment.
Each week we are taught by guest speakers, ranging from theological professors, to ordained ministers, to missionaries and authors. You don’t have to be looking to pursue full-time ministry to take part in the course; it is for anybody looking to go deeper in their relationship with God, and to seek to know Him more.
A typical week at Cornhill
Each week we spend time studying Christian doctrine, books of the bible, and practical ministry training. For example, a Monday at Cornhill would be “Doctrine of the Trinity” between 9:30 and 12:30, followed by an in depth look at Ephesians between 1:30 and 4:30.
Every morning begins with a time of prayer for those around you, as we are encouraged regularly to approach all learning and exploration prayerfully. It is made clear that the Bible is not simply a document to be studied, but is the living Word of God, by which He seeks to have a relationship with us.
During these lectures, we may split off into discussion groups, so to allow room to discuss the topic at hand. But while most of our time is spent in a lecture/seminar environment, Tuesday afternoons are different. Tuesday afternoons are set aside for “gobbets” – short, highly condensed expositions of Bible passages.
So for example, I may be given Romans 5:3-5, and have seven minutes to speak about what is the context, content and application of the passage in question. The rest of the group then feedback on the presentation.
Bible training in Belfast during lockdown
While the outbreak of Covid-19 has undoubtedly interrupted the normality of meeting together each week, class has thankfully been able to continue online. In these past few months, I have come to know God and His love on a significantly deeper level, thanks to the teaching and guidance I have been given access to.
The flow of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, has become to me so much more than an anthology of stories. Every book, chapter and verse all play a perfect and vital part in the story of salvation found in Jesus Christ. Whether it be in the Exodus from Egypt, or David’s defeat of Goliath, or the parable of the good Samaritan, or Paul’s letters to the churches; all points to salvation in Christ Jesus.
The cross was the climax of all history. Everything we know and love as God’s created humanity rests on the salvation provided by Jesus Christ on the cross. And from the beginning of time, God has desired a relationship with us, that we may be satisfied in His perfect glory, and that we may fulfil our created purpose in worshipping and glorifying God in all that we say and do.
And as I write this, I hear God’s calling of my life into ministry clearer than ever thanks to the encouragement, discipleship and teachings of Cornhill.
Cornhill Belfast run a week-long summer school (this year via Zoom online). For more information click here.