Ministry Studies

REF 2021

1st in the UK

Divinity at the University of Aberdeen was ranked 1st in the UK for overall quality of research

Ministry Studies

Aberdeen University has been committed to Ministry Studies since its creation by Bishop Elphinstone in 1495. For more than 500 years our University has been ‘open to all and dedicated to the pursuit of truth in the service of others.’ This commitment was renewed in 2014 with the creation of the Centre for Ministry Studies which was formed to develop a creative working relationships between the academy and the church. In addition to its practical training initiatives and academic courses, the Centre is engaged in uncompromising and transformational research into matters that concern the mission of God in the world today.

Click the tabs below for more information on what Aberdeen has to offer by way of research expertise and doctoral supervision, how to apply, and what students can expect when studying with us.

Ministry Studies in Aberdeen

Ministry Studies research at Aberdeen University is both practical and theological. It is practical in its commitment to wrestle with the real challenges and the opportunities that present themselves to the Christian church in a post-modern society as it seeks to participate in the mission of God. It is wholly theological as it draws upon the Scriptural witness and the history of tradition that bear testimony to the enduring nature of faith, hope and love. We are resolute in our commitment to robust research into themes and subjects that are related to Christian ministry.


Prof Tom Greggs

Interests include: Church-state relations, Ecclesiology, Homiletics, Inter-religious dialogue, Orders of ministry, Secularism

Dr Katie Hockey

Interests include: The formation and shaping of Early Christian identity/identities; 1 Peter and the Catholic Epistles; Christian self-conception; emotion studies and the New Testament; and Greco-Roman philosophical ethics and rhetoric.

Rev Dr Ken Jeffrey

Interests include: Christian Practices, Homiletics, Hospitality, Leadership, Mission, Pastoral Care, Revivals, Spiritual Formation

Dr Sam Newington

Interests include: Creation Narratives, Ancient Mystery Religions, Theories of Religion

Prof Paul Nimmo

Interests include: Christian Doctrines, Theology of Preaching, Theology of the Sacraments, Christian Discipleship, History of the Church in Scotland, History of Theology in Scotland

Dr Leon van Ommen

Interests include: Liturgy, Worship, Autism, Disability, Pastoral Care, Homiletics, Narrative, Suffering, Joy. 

Rev Prof John Swinton

Interests include:

Disability theology – the ways in which the experience of human disability impacts upon theology and practice;

Dementia – what does it mean to know and to love God when you have forgotten who God is? Wat theologies and practices enable us to respond faithfully to such a question.

Mental health studies – how do Christians experience mental health challenges and what has theology and the practices of the church got to offer to mental health care.

Chaplaincy – what is the role of chaplaincy in contemporary society.

End of life care – what does it mean to die well?

Theodicy – how are Christians to make sense of the presence of evil and suffering in a world created by a God who is love

Rev Prof Phil Ziegler

Interests include: Theology of the Word and Homiletics, the Christian Life, Public Theology, confessions and doctrines of the Reformed Churches

PGR Students

Supervised by Prof Tom Greggs

Keir Shreeves, Bonhoeffer’s Homiletics

Supervised by Rev Dr Ken Jeffrey

Dr Sheila Akomiah, The changing landscape of the church in post-Christendom Britain: New churches in Glasgow 2000-2016 (Completed in 2018)

Dr Paul Coulter, Church and Mission in Four Aspects: Locating church planting within a missionary ecclesiology for the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church in contemporary Northern Ireland (Completed in 2016)

George Weagba, A contemporary survey of narrative preaching among United Methodist Pastors in Liberia

 Sara Blakeney, Exploring Discipleship Models of Millennials in Missional Communities in Fort Worth, Texas: An Ethnographic Inquiry

 Nam Vo, Spiritual Formation Practices and Youth Ministry in Vietnam

 Brian Theu, The Impact of Witchcraft Beliefs and Practices on members of Church of Central Africa Presbyterian: A Case Study of Livingstonia Synod

 Erin Crider, What theological and practical resources might a conversational ecclesiology offer to church planters?

Supervised by Prof Paul Nimmo

Adam Mabry, The Holy Spirit in Christian Discipleship: A Pneumatological Analysis of the

Munus Triplex and its Implications for Christians Today (provisional title)

Andrew Kimmitt, Theological Anthropology and Dementia (provisional title)

Benjamin Rhodes, A Theology of Waiting

Chuck Colson, Sabbath: Command and Practice (provisional title)

Students supervised by Léon van Ommen

Cynthia Tam. “Finding Meaning in Silences: The Experience of People with Autism and Limited Speech Language Abilities” (supervised with Prof John Swinton)

Ingibjörg Stéfansdottír. “God Within. The Meaningfulness of Spiritual Experiences of People with Learning Disabilities.”

Dan Jesse. “The Religious End of Sorrow: Resurrecting Sadness through Liturgical Vulnerability.” (supervised with Prof Brian Brock)

Conor Fegan. “Silent Guests to Co-Equal Hosts: A Practical Theological Study of Queer Christian Experiences in Northern Ireland.” (Submitted May 2019)

Samantha Smith. “Embodied Trauma, Embodied Spirituality: The Impact of the Embodied Aspect of Sexual Assault on Believers’ Way of Being in Relationship with God.”

Jeremy Kim. “Preaching on Social Suffering: Formulating a Homiletical Theology to Preach the Theme of Suffering in the Contemporary Korean Context.”

Sheila Cameron. “The Samaritan Offering of Emotional Support to the Suicidal and Despairing as an Expression of Christian Theology in a Post-Secular Age.” (supervised with Dr Katie Cross)

Denise Maud. “An Exploration into the Lived Experience of Autism Spectrum Disorder and How Participation in the Eucharist of the Church of England May Be Perceived by Autistic People.” (start September 2019)


Very select publications in this area from among our faculty include:

Tom Greggs, Dogmatic Ecclesiology: Volume 1—The Priestly Catholicity of the Church (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019).

Tom Greggs (ed.), New Perspectives for Evangelical Theology: Engaging God, Scripture and the World, editor (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010).

Katherine Hockey, ‘Resilience in 1 Peter: Faithfulness and Hope in the Face of Adversity’, in N. H. White & C. C. H. Cook (eds), Biblical and Theological Visions of Resilience: Pastoral and Clinical Insights (Routledge, Abingdon, 2020), pp. 98-110.

Paul T Nimmo, ‘Baptismal Theology and Practice in the Church of Scotland’, in Worship and Liturgy in Context: Studies and Case Studies in Theology and Practice, eds. Duncan B. Forrester and Doug Gay (London: SCM, 2009): 92–106

Paul T Nimmo (ed.), Learn: Understanding Our Faith (Edinburgh: St Andrew Press, 2017)

Paul T Nimmo, ‘The Eucharist in post-Reformation Scotland: A Theological Tale of Harmony and Diversity’, in Scottish Journal of Theology 71.4 (2018): 460–480

Paul T Nimmo, ‘The Theology of Preaching: A Reformed Perspective’, in Theology in Scotland 25.2 (2018): 7–22

Armand Léon van Ommen, Suffering in Worship: Anglican Liturgy in Relation to Stories of Suffering People (London: Routledge, 2017).