Congratulations to two members of the Connor Diocesan Development Team, who both recently graduated with a Master’s Degree in Theology.
Connor Youth Officer Christina Baillie and Church Army Evangelist with the North Belfast Centre of Mission, Karen Webb, embarked on the degree with the University of Cumbria unaware the other was also undertaking the course!
Christina, who has been with Connor Diocese for five years, already holds an Undergraduate Degree in Social Work from Queen’s University, Belfast.
“I wanted to learn more about God at a deeper level and to consider a wider range of academic thought on theological issues,” Christina said.
“In addition, I hoped for an experience which would advance my own theological understanding as this applies to my role, by equipping me to engage in complex issues and seek to share these with young people.”
She was delighted to discover Karen was also doing the degree. “It was lovely having a colleague to walk with on this journey of study and great knowing Karen also ‘got it’ around keeping up with our study while also working full-time over the past two years,” Christina added.
Her dissertation was an inter-disciplinary study considering how social work methods of reflection and anti-oppressive practice could help to challenge the bias which individuals bring to the Bible as they read.
Karen, who works at Connect Base in Shankill Road, and has been with Connor Diocese since 2015, has a Joint Honours Degree in Computers and Business from Queen’s University and has Church Army Training through University of York.
“God inspired me to do the Master’s – a chance lifting of a leaflet at Summer Madness two years ago – and a conversation with one of the staff from Belfast Bible College,” Karen said.
“Every obstacle I put up for not doing it was knocked down, and so I found myself applying on the last day of applications!
“Christina and I both doing it was amazing! I was at uni the first time with her dad who did computer science with me! I was so thankful to have someone I knew and worked with – I was the oldest woman doing it by a generation, but Christina and all the other young women made me feel part of the gang. I reclaimed my youth!”
Karen’s dissertation was a research project into the question: ‘How might the Anglican Church in the Greater Shankill Area of Belfast adjust to their changing context?’
She said: “I was able to send out questionnaires to both clergy and laity in the parishes in the Mid-Belfast Rural Deanery and my dissertation analyses those results and makes recommendations.”