From Rev Leah McKibben, on receiving the award for her dissertation.
I was delighted when I recently gained my Masters qualification in Theology, Ministry and Mission through The Queen’s Foundation Birmingham, affiliated with Durham University. It had been three years of hard work, attending online classes and taking trips to Birmingham for intensive study weeks. But the modules that were studied were interesting, and covered a wide variety of subjects, providing a good foundation of learning that could be used in my ministry.
The last year of studies allowed me to carry out research on a topic chosen by myself, compiling my findings in my Masters dissertation. It was very unexpected to receive a letter this month to inform me that The Queen’s Foundation has awarded me the ‘John Hull Dissertation Prize’ for 2023, which is given in recognition of an outstanding achievement in a Master of Arts dissertation. It was encouraging to receive this, marking the time and effort that I had given to this research, and highlighting the useful contribution that this research could make to the current practice of ordained ministry in the Methodist Church.
My research was an historical exploration of a Wesleyan model of ministry, evaluating how that is reflected within the Methodist Church in Ireland today. It was an interesting study to undertake, allowing me to become more familiar with how John Wesley practiced his ministry, and asking if his use of time, and his balance of social and personal holiness provides a good model to be followed today. I learnt much, and was challenged to think about my own ministry and how I saw ministry modelled today. After months of work, I concluded that Wesley helps ministers consider what their motivation to ministry is, shows them a balance of time spent on works of piety and works of mercy, and challenges them to have a transparent ministry that models a life of discipleship for those in their local societies.
Concentrating on this one topic for the year, while interesting, wasn’t always easy. I relied very heavily on my dissertation supervisors, Rev Dr Janet Unsworth and Rev Dr Catrin Harland-Davies, to teach, encourage and guide me in the dissertation process. With their help along the way I was able to complete my research and submit my dissertation. It is now a delight to have received recognition for my completed work, and I would like to express my thanks to my supervisors for their help, and to The Queen’s Foundation Dissertation Panel for awarding me with this prize.