Training graduates in biblical social reform

Introducing the SAGE Graduate Programme and our 2018-9 participants.

SAGE participants with course director, Philip Powell

Where will the next generation of Christian social reformers like William Wilberforce, Elizabeth Fry and Lord Shaftesbury come from?  This is a challenge we decided to take on, so this October we welcomed four recent graduates to join us for SAGE, a year-long discipleship programme in social reform. The participants are here to learn to think biblically about issues in public life, develop research skills and set up a project to help Christians engage in social transformation. All the while they’re living together in a shared house in Cambridge, as a community of social reform.

Jubilee Centre’s track record of identifying and investing in future leaders is significant — we countamong our alumni the only Professor in Biblical Law at a secular university in the UK (Jonathan Burnside), an economist who headed up the London office of the IMF (Paul Mills), and a Times columnist and political journalist (Tim Montgomerie). The latter described his time with Jubilee Centre as one of the richest and most influential of his life.  Similarly, as we disciple recent graduates through the SAGE initiative, we believe that we will be bringing a biblical rigour to bear on the lives of future economists, teachers, journalists, politicians, academics, business people… the next generation of social and political influencers.

The programme is structured in three parts: a Study Phase (October to December), a Research Phase (January to April), and a Project Phase (May to July). The SAGE participants (or SAGEites, as they’ve become known) also spend a half day each week in volunteering at a social action project in a local church or ministry.

The SAGEites

Katherine Martin

Katherine has graduated from Trinity College, Dublin with a BA degree in Geography and Philosophy, where she was president of the Christian Union. She is originally from Northern Ireland.

‘I decided to apply for SAGE because it included a number of aspects which I found interesting and attractive compared to the other programmes available: the academic course, opportunities for research, social engagement and a focus on building a community within the programme.

‘So far, I’ve enjoyed the first term of study. The smaller class size has given more opportunities for discussion, research and learning, and I’m learning to use a Biblical and relational lens when thinking about policy and ideas. I’ve also found that living in community has been a great experience.’ 

Peter Redmayne

Peter studied Modern Languages at Durham University where he gained his BA degree.  He is from St Albans, and more recently has been doing an internship at St Nicholas, Sevenoaks.

‘I applied for SAGE because I wanted to get a Christian ‘baptism’ in the area of politics. If I wanted to influence politics for Christ, then I knew I needed to think more like him. I’ve found this term stimulating as we’ve studied and discussed Jubilee Centre’s approach to a wide range of areas including politics, the economy and the arts.

‘I’ve grappled with how we apply biblical law from the Pentateuch to contemporary society: do we apply the principles to society as a whole, or just the life of the Church and individual Christians? Biblical law does seem to provide a paradigm – or model – from which we can draw principles and apply them to public life today.’

Hannah Eves

Hannah is from Bangor in Northern Ireland and has graduated from University of Nottingham with an MA in Governance and Political Development. She was also a student leader in the Navigators.

‘In this first term, I have found that my confidence in my capacity to engage in debate and discussion has grown and I have enjoyed grappling with subjects (such as economics) which are far from my academic comfort zone. The Jubilee Centre provides a context where discussion is whole-heartedly encouraged and there is no idea not on the table for engagement. While this exposes us to hard ideas, including some of the more ‘extreme’ ideas in the Old Testament, it also allows us to be authentic in our study of the biblical text and to have freedom of thought.

‘I’ve also gained understanding of the importance of networks for social reformers. This has been illustrated to me through the intentional community-building of our housing situation and has taught me practical lessons about how to do fellowship well.’

Andrew Phillips

Andrew has graduated from Oxford University, where he took a BA in Classics with Biblical Hebrew.  He is from Dorset and is a keen musician, playing both piano and violin.

‘I have appreciated learning the important Jubilee Centre principle of connecting a consistently biblical worldview with excellent research on issues in the public square. Both aspects of this equation are vital, and I have found our study and discussion very insightful on how to connect and integrate the two. Christians are called to be salt and light, engaging with the world rather than withdrawing from it, but committing to changing and challenging culture rather than accepting things as they are.

‘I’ve also been volunteering at Fairbite, a branch of the Cambridge foodbank scheme, which has provided an excellent counterpoint to the academic side of the course. I am interested in engaging with social and welfare policy in the future, so gaining insight ‘on the ground’ has been valuable and rewarding.’

Do you know anyone who might be interested in the SAGE programme?

SAGE is a unique, year-long leadership programme for aspiring social reformers, based at the Jubilee Centre in Cambridge. Participants will:

  • Discover the Bible’s social vision and how it addresses 21st century issues in public life
  • Embrace a framework for Christian social reform based on Relational Thinking
  • Learn how and why to base social transformation initiatives on thorough research
  • Develop skills for biblical and issue-based research and for communication of ideas
  • Form and implement a strategy for engaging Christians around the issue
  • Grow in personal, social and spiritual maturity

To find out more about the course, and how to apply for the October 2019 intake, visit: jubilee-centre.org/SAGE

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Category: News and Reviews

January, 2019

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