Introducing our new leadership school

Community Organising, Urban Leadership School l

profile-Tim-CBuilding on three years of work as our Near Neighbours Co-ordinator – and decades of experience in inner-city ministry and mission – Tim Clapton is now the Director of the Contextual Theology Centre’s new Urban Leadership School.

In this blog he introduces its exciting range of training programmes, and explains how you can get involved!

In the last eight years, the Contextual Theology Centre has welcomed almost 100 Jellicoe Interns to East London.  These students (most of them undergraduates) spend four weeks in a local congregation involved in community organising. Some of these interns have gone on to year-round placements with our partner churches, or to become full-time members of staff.

Last year, CTC launched the Buxton Leadership Programme, with three young Christian leaders combining community organising placements in inner-city churches with internships with MPs or Peers.

This year, we are going to build on these innovative programmes by launching the Urban Leadership School (ULS). We want to equip a new generation of Christian leaders who will learn from the existing work of inner-city churches, and help them engage even more faithfully and effectively with their neighbours.

What do we mean by leadership?

Often leadership is associated with steering an organisation, getting a task done or managing a team of people, but at CTC, “leadership” means something more than that. The teaching of the Bible and our experience of church-based community organising tells us that leaders are people with the capacity, knowledge and skills to develop others. Leaders help those around them to develop relationships of integrity and trust, so that together they can discern and promote the Common Good.

This kind of leadership isn’t just about having a qualification or title or holding an office. It is about building “power with” not exercising “power over” our neighbours.  A characteristic of this kind of leader is that a leader can identify and develop others in the community.

What are we going to do?

This year, the Urban Leadership School will be broadening participation in our two existing programmes – and launching two new ones.

– As usual, we will run our Jellicoe Internship in July – where we hope to attract more interns and to widen the age profile.  The internship is a great opportunity for young adults from an increasingly wide range of backgrounds. We will also be offering some of those whom complete the summer internship the opportunity to undertake year-round, part-time placements.

– We are also recruiting our second cohort for the Buxton Leadership Programme, following excellent feedback from churches, politicians and interns who are now halfway through the pilot year.

– CTC’s latest project – SingSpire – will also run an internship programme. Like the Jellicoe interns, participants will be placed in an east London church to learn community organising skills and reflect together theologically. However, their local project will be musical – for example developing a community choir, working with the church choir, or running workshops for people in the neighbourhood.

– Responding to growing interest from visitors from the Americas, Africa and Asia – as well as other European countries – CTC is launching an International Leadership School. This will bring Christian leaders together to reflect on their own diverse contexts, to learn how community organising has equipped east London churches for mission – and to think theologically about issues of power, politics, mission and justice.

As well as these different internship programmes, we plan to offer shorter workshops and seminars throughout the year.

If you think this sounds like an important and exciting development, then we definitely need your input and prayers. In particular, if

– you are interested in applying for a place on one of our programmes

– you lead a church with potential applicants

– you might want to be a sponsor of the Urban Leadership School

please do get in touch with me on

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