Prepared for the Future
Trevor Archer reports back from the final graduation service of PfS in Reading and the first days of the new PfSPlus course in Coventry.
Back in early June, the annual Prepared for Service graduation service took place at Carey Baptist Church in Reading. It was a significant time of celebration and thanksgiving – not only for the latest batch of graduates, or for the provision of a new home for PfS in Coventry, but also for the legacy of 20 years of the course.
During its history, 345 students have been trained through PfS. That’s the equivalent of one graduate every three weeks for 20 years! The vast majority of these men and women have returned to their home churches better equipped to serve in different ministries, but some are now to be found leading churches and serving the Lord both in the UK and overseas.
In marking the close of PfS in its previous form, we were also giving thanks to the faithfulness of so many men and women who had made it possible – not least those who had invested so much time as lecturers, alongside those who had opened their homes in Reading to host students who came eight times a year for three days. And of course there was special thanks to David and Laraine Cook, the course administrators for so many recent years, without whom PfS would not have happened.
However, we were not only looking back but also looking forward. PfS was about to enter a new phase of life in the form of PfSPlus.
The church leaders at Bethel Church Coventry had a vision for how PfS might develop in the future and become part of the wider range of training courses they were already offering through their WL Academy. As FIEC directors we could see how this might be a very natural progression for PfS and have worked closely with Bethel Church in the past year to bring about this transition.
This short video will give you an insight into Bethel’s ambitions for PfSPlus:
Of course, moving a long-established and well-oiled set-up such as PfS from Reading to a new home was always going to provide challenges. However, in the Lord’s goodness the launch on Monday 1st September went wonderfully well – not least because of a great deal of behind-the-scenes work by Keith Foster and Darren Bovis-Coulter and their team at Bethel, facilitated in the transition by David and Laraine Cook.
PfSPlus opened its doors for the first three days of its new academic year to 14 students, 11 of whom who were beginning their second year of the PfS course.
The course will be housed in two venues; on Mondays at Bethel Church and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the nearby offices of Radioplus, a Christian radio station serving Coventry. The vast majority of those who previously lectured on PfS have agreed to teach on PfSPlus. And so John Tindall taught the first ever lectures of PfSPlus on an overview of the Bible, followed later that day by Andy Robinson on Bible Handling.
On Tuesday the students heard more from Andy before Paul Mallard weighed-in with five sessions on the Doctrine of God; lectures that always prove to be deeply challenging and encouraging. The resolute students turned up again on the Wednesday for Richard Shaw on Biblical Manhood, after which I followed with four sessions on Biblical Leadership.
I was struck and greatly encouraged by the quality, enthusiasm and engagement of the men and women who form the first intake of students on PfSPlus. There was a pleasing sense of folk adapting well to the new set-up, which has refreshed PfS and added significant elements that will enable student/lecturer engagement online. All who I spoke with were extremely positive about the changes.
As Course Director Darren Bovis-Coulter put it:
“It all went better that we could have hoped or imagined. All the fundamental elements that made PfS what it was were clearly alive, and with a fresh face embracing some new online tools as well as fantastic teaching, we could not have had a more blessed start.”
To find out more about PfSPlus and to apply for the course please visit www.wlacademy.org.uk or call Darren on 07775 767664