Discovering Christianity Together
Bishop's Certificate courses starting
New courses will be starting in several areas across the diocese this autumn. To book a place download the registration form (below) and return it to the Old Palace - all the details you need are on the form itself. Alternatively, contact the Ministry and Discipleship team to ask for a form by email or post (follow the Contact further down the page).
Read on here for information about how the course works. You can also download this information as a leaflet at the bottom of the page.
What is the Bishop's Certificate?
This is a diocesan study course which is offered in different places each year and run by volunteer tutors.It’s designed to help you learn more about the bible and the great themes of Christian faith and life, and to relate these to your own experience and locality. It will encourage you to explore and reflect as you learn with, and from, the other people on your course. It’s a great way to get to know people from neighbouring churches and different Christian traditions.
What qualifications do I need?
No academic ones, just enthusiasm, interest, an open mind and the willingness to commit yourself to attending the whole course, as well as to learning in a group.
What about essays?
There are no formal assessments at all. You may be encouraged to keep a private journal or diary as you go through the course and towards the end of the course you might work on a project, either by yourself or with other people. But this needn’t necessarily be a written project, it could be something practical.
How long does the course last?
There are 30 sessions, and each one lasts about 1½ to 2 hours. Most courses run on a weekly basis over three terms, with the usual breaks for holidays, but each group can plan its own timetable.
What will I learn?
The course includes a mix of input from the course materials and from the tutor (everyone has their own copy of the full notes for every session), as well as discussion, personal reflection and looking at passages from the bible together. This is a course that invites everyone to get involved in sharing their ideas and experiences, but only as much as they wish to. Listening to, and learning from, each other is a significant ingredient of the whole experience.
The main subjects covered are:
- Christian faith and creeds
- an introduction to the Old Testament and its central themes
- the person, life and teaching of Jesus
- baptism, prayer and the Eucharist
- a special study of the letter to the Ephesians
- Pentecost and the Holy Spirit
- the Holy Trinity
- living as Christians with people of other faiths
As you explore these topics you will be learning about yourself and other people, as well as exploring your own faith.
How much reading will I have to do?
There is suggested preparation material for each session which includes some reading, usually from the bible, and making notes to help introduce you to the topic. Sometimes some ‘homework’ might be recommended and if you want to find out more about a topic, there will be ideas for further reading.
How big is a group?
The best size is between about six and twelve people. If groups are too big, they can inhibit shyer people, and if they’re too small, it may lessen your chances of interesting discussion.
How much does it cost?
It’s £30 per person, to cover materials and administration.
When and where will the course happen?
This is a diocesan course, so everyone covers the same material, but it’s delivered in different places around the diocese by local tutors. The tutors will plan the location and timing of the sessions.
What happens at the end of the course?
You’ll receive your certificate from the Bishop at a special diocesan presentation evening with a reception for all the course ‘graduates’ that year, along with their families and friends.
Does it offer me anything else?
Many people find themselves enthused and energized to continue learning, whether formally or informally. The course can be a great stepping stone – it might be a helpful way to put a toe into the waters of regular learning, perhaps after a long break, or some people decide to explore particular roles and ministries as a result of the course. For anyone considering licensed lay ministry (Reader ministry) the Bishop’s Certificate counts as the year of necessary foundation studies. At the end of the course, if you wish, tutors could help you think about some ‘What next?’ questions.
I'd like to do the course - what do I do now?
Courses usually begin in the autumn of each year and details of dates and venues are typically planned during the early summer. Contact the Ministry and Discipleship team (details below) for a registration form or download the one below. The form will show you the courses available in the coming autumn. You can then select the day(s) and location(s) you prefer. All the information you need about applying for the course is on the form.
If courses for the coming autumn have not been finalised when you enquire, your name will go on a list to register your interest and an application form will be sent to you as soon as it is available.
If you have any queries not covered here, please don't hesitate to ask.
Contact the Ministry and Discipleship team
You can download the information shown on this page in the form of a leaflet:
Anyone who wishes to advertise the Bishop's Certificate in their churches or advertise a course taking place locally might find this material of interest. You can download an invitation template and a '2-up' A5 advertising flier which can be customised with the details of a local course and contact person, and/or direct enquirers to the Old Palace Ministry and Discipleship team for more information.
Find out more from those who have completed the course
The video below features three course participants as they reflect on their experiences of the Bishop's Certificate course, why they joined up and the journey it has taken them on.
Bishop's Certificate Tutor's pack
For all prospective tutors, please find your information and use the following starter materials: