Incumbents and Supervisors

Full-time Ordinands

Every student on the Full-Time Church-Based pathway is based in a local church or mission context and has a supervisor who oversees their work. A Supervisor’s Handbook is available, but the supervisor is appointed by consultation between the College, the student and the local context. It is often the incumbent of the church in which the student is based, but does not have to be – it might be a lay person, or someone on the staff of the church – it simply needs to be someone close enough to the ordinand and their work to help monitor that work, and help the student develop. The supervisor’s duties include:

  • To meet with the student at least once every two weeks to review their work, formation and progress on the course.
  • To attend supervisor events and meetings held at SMC as often as possible. These will usually be one event a year and certainly no more than two.
  • To be available for contact with the student’s personal tutor in SMC when appropriate.
  • To contribute towards assessment of the student’s suitability or otherwise for ordination.


The College organises several supervisors’ training and consultation days each year, and it is important that supervisors make a priority of coming to those days as far as possible. These sessions involve a mixture of consultation with college staff, three-way discussions between student, supervisor and personal tutor and training in supervision and mentoring skills. The College will also send tutors for in-context meetings with the ordinand and supervisor.

The programme also involves some time spent involved in a church placement (a ‘Secondary Church Placement’) which is different in significant ways from their primary place of ministry. This will involve around a two to four-week period towards the end of the course. Employers need to be aware of this and be prepared to release the student for such a placement, as this is a crucial part of their training and an important investment in their longer-term effectiveness in and readiness for ordained ministry in the Church of England.

Full details are available in the Incumbents Guidelines which are sent to incumbents at the beginning of each academic year. Incumbents are always welcome to contact Jane Williams, one of the Assistant Deans of the college if they have any questions or concerns at [email protected]

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Part-time Ordinands

We ask that incumbents meet with the ordinand on a regular basis throughout their training (e.g. every four to six weeks) to help the student reflect theologically on formation and training, and to explore how what they are learning links with parish ministry today. We also ask that the student be given regular opportunities to preach during their time with us (roughly five to six times a year), and that they are also given opportunities to participate in leading worship as appropriate. 

In addition, ordinands taking the three-year programme work on at least three ministry modules during their time at St Mellitus. One module involves an assessed sermon, which we ask the incumbent to help with, and another involves a home church project, which the incumbent usually supervises. The student may also opt to help lead an evangelism course as part of their training, and each student will undertake a placement in another church or ministerial context, usually for three months during their final year with us. Students will need to be released from ministerial responsibilities during that time.

To help incumbents prepare for their role in the process, we invite incumbents to a meeting in September each year. We also set out full details of the various responsibilities in the Incumbents Guide, which is sent to incumbents at the beginning of each academic year. Incumbents will also receive a termly email that outlines what the student is currently working on, and incumbents are always welcome to visit for evening or weekend sessions to experience life in College. In addition, incumbents are able to contact Lincoln Harvey, one of our Assistant Deans, if they have any questions or concerns. He can be reached at [email protected].

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  1. Candidates will usually be training for either 2 years, gaining a Diploma in Theology, Mission and Ministry, or 3 years, gaining a BA in Theology, Mission & Ministry (through Durham University), or Theology Graduates will be on the 2 year MA in Christian Leadership offered by St Mellitus College (through Middlesex) or the 2 year MA in Theology, Mission & Ministry (through Durham University). Candidates join part-time St Mellitus College students for residential weekends and weeks; weekly teaching is based at St Mellitus College's London centre at 24 Collingham Road, London, SW5 0LX, in St Mellitus College, North West at Liverpool Cathedral, or in St Mellitus College, South West at St Matthias Church, Plymouth. In 2017, the MA programmes will not be available in Plymouth, though this will be reviewed in future years.  It is assumed that candidates will be engaged in the local church/network 50% of the time, a student 50% of the time – for example, students may be involved with mission and ministry for a local context for Sunday plus two days per week, allowing two or three days a week for study and one day off.
  2. It is important to ensure that the church is aware of the time constraints and expectations for the ordinand and in full agreement with the proposed terms and conditions of the role. It is recommended that a careful projection is made well in advance of the training and ministry arrangements. This will take the form of a working agreement between supervisor, ordinand and St Mellitus, but can sometimes also be a signed agreement between the diocese (represented by the DDO), the local context (usually represented by the incumbent), the training course and the candidate. This should encompass time to be spent working for the local context, time spent studying and time off, together with a detailed projection of the financial arrangements.
  3. (i) All tuition costs and the costs of residential weekends and weeks will be met by the block grant funding which comes from the Ministry Division Central Fund for Ministerial Training to the ordinand’s diocese and is then paid to the college.
    (ii) Candidates will normally be eligible to receive a Personal and Book Allowance (usually just over £1k pa) which will come from the ordinand’s diocese (from the block grant funding), though this will be calculated according to the candidate’s level of personal savings.
    (iii) Travel expenses for weekly travel to college and for travel to residentials will be met by the diocese (from the block grant funding) up to agreed set maximums (mileage or public transport).
    (iv) Candidates will receive maintenance funding paid by the diocese, calculated on the same basis as that of candidates in residential training and on an income expenditure basis with set national limits.
    (v) As part of that expenditure calculation context-based ordinands are eligible for accommodation allowances, up to a national maximum. (For example, in London £7,815 for a single ordinand, £17,445 for married ordinands; allowances will take into account both interest and capital repayment on mortgages, where appropriate).
    (vi) TAP grants may be made, following the usual assessment.
  4. (i) The calculation of diocesan grants will continue to be made by the diocese according to Ministry Division guidelines. In these cases, there will be consultation with the context as well as the candidate. The diocese will continue to be responsible for covering the difference between expenditure (according to the guidelines) and income from all sources. (In the case of single students, the guideline figures given for lone parents should be used, which are based, as with the figures for married candidates, upon annual expenditure outside of the residential College context).
    (ii) Diocesan grants paid within the guidelines under this system will be subject to pooling. (In the case of single students’ grants over the normal limit for pooling, following approval by the Ministry Division Finance Panel).
  5. The local context will generally be asked to contribute £3000 in 2017-2018, in recognition of the candidate’s contribution to the context; this is the figure that the diocese is not able to cover through the national church pooling system (this will drop to 2k in 18-19, 1k in 19-20 and will be removed entirely from 2020). This would usually be paid to the diocese as the diocese will be covering the full maintenance costs for the ordinand arising from the usual income-expenditure calculation. The diocese may choose to waive the £3000 contribution from the context, for example where accommodation is provided. In some cases, for example where housing costs are significant, and perhaps above the national limits for single or married ordinands, and/or the level of spousal income means the ordinand is not eligible for diocesan maintenance support, a suitable level of financial support from the placement context may be agreed in discussion with St Mellitus and the diocese, if the placement context is in a position to contribute.