Centre for Ministry Studies Coordinator
Born in Northern Ireland and brought up in Holywood where he attended Sullivan Upper School, Ken Jeffrey went to Stirling University in 1988 where he studied History with Professor David Bebbington. After graduating, he went to Malawi where he taught English and Bible Knowledge for two years at Livingstonia Secondary School. In 1994, he returned to Aberdeen University where he gained a first class honours BD in 1997. Ken undertook post graduate studies with David Bebbington and studied the 1859 Revival as it affected the communities of north east Scotland. He was awarded his PhD in 2000 and his thesis was published by Paternoster. Between 2000 and 2002, he served as a Probationary Minister at Rubislaw Parish Church in Aberdeen, before he was ordained and inducted as minister of The Parish Church of Cupar Old and St Michael of Tarvit in Fife where he served for almost twelve years. During this time, he undertook further studies at Aberdeen University and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and was awarded a DMin degree. In January 2014 he was appointed as the new Director of the Centre for Ministry Studies at Aberdeen University.
Revivals and Spiritual Renewal
A modern historian, by trade, I have a particular interest in nineteenth century church history. I enjoy a special fascination of revivals and have examined in close detail how these 'seasons of grace' have appeared across Britain, and Scotland in particular, during the last four hundred years. However, I also have a keen interest in spiritual renewal in the church today and its expression in new and pioneering forms of ministry.
My love of history provides me, as well, with both an awareness of the ancient practices of the church and a sense of perspective as it wrestles with the challenges that are presented by the post Christendom culture in which we live. I am enthusiastic to encourage the church to rediscover its ancient practices so that it might recover its true sense of purpose and meaning.
The Challenges of Ministry and Mission Today
I have also served as a parish minister and thus enjoy a very real interest in all matters that relate to the ministry and mission of the church. I have a very particular concern for the health and well being of ministers and the harsh realities and issues that confront them on a daily basis. I am acutely aware of the difficulties presented by criticism and discouragements, loneliness and isolation, 'dryness', fear of failure and temptation, as well as the need for ministers to have a strong sense of their own identity as servants of the church. I want the Centre to support and help ministers fulfill and thrive in their calling.
The priesthood of all believers
I believe too that the whole church is called to minister, and thus I am interested in helping people discover their own sense of calling and encourage them in their vocations, wherever that is, either directly within the life of a congregation or beyond and in the wider community. I hope the Centre will afford opportunities to everyone who wants to be educated, trained and equipped in order to minister and serve more effectively wherever they are.
My Final Paper for the DMin programme is about Hospitality, and in this I reflect upon the Benedictine rule to 'Receive all guests as Christ'. I believe passionately that hospitality, an ancient practice of the church, is one of the most important means by which we are called to engage in ministry and mission today, and I am keen to share my enthusiasm about hospitality with others.
Ministry Education and Training
I am excited to have received the opportunity of becoming the new Director of the Centre for Ministry Studies at Aberdeen University because I want to help foster a closer relationship between the academy and the church. I want to help facilitate ministry education and practical training for lay and ordained people. My personal default position is always to ask 'so what?' and hence I am anxious to connect my understanding and knowledge of faith to the practical, real issues and challenges that face us in everyday life.
Above all, I want to inspire people with confidence and help to equip them with the skills they need to fulfill their vocation in life so that churches can engage effectively in the tasks of ministry and mission in a challenging social context. In this way, I hope the Centre for Ministry Studies at Aberdeen University will serve the academy, the church and wider society well.
I am currently supervising four PhD students who are working on the following areas:
A contemporary survey of narrative preaching among united Methodist Pastors in Liberia
An Ecclesiology for Evangelical church planters in Northern Ireland
Church Growth in Glasgow
The Changing Voice of Corporate Worship, 1750-1934: How song texts used among Baptists in the Southern United States exhibited a shift in the function of the weekly gathering for worship
In addition I am supervising the work of four of our DPT students who are working on:
The use of participatory action research methodology to explore how the ancient Benedictine practise of Lectio Divina impacts on the ministry and discipleship of members of Strathbrock Parish Church
Structured for growth? Modern structure and governance for modern Churches
Transforming Lives of Prisoner: What is the unique contribution of the chaplain?
Exploring the decline of the Church of Scotland
1. Distance Learning Programme:
An Introduction to Pastoral Care
An Introduction to Christian Spirituality
2. MTh Ministry Studies: