We return with the next in our series of guest blog posts celebrating the 50 years of study and life at the Urban Theology Union
I suppose I do not fit with the usual student pattern at UTU but then the beauty of it is that there is no stereotype! I retired in 2003 from active ministry and wanted to pursue a course of study which would keep the grey cells active. After looking at several possibilities I eventually decided upon UTu which had a reputation I was familiar with for many years, being an avid reader of John Vincent’s books, and always, I trust, practising a contextual ministry anyway.
I was initially interviewed by Ian Duffield who urged me to be realistic about my choice of topic. After rejecting one or two ideas I eventually decided upon Methodist Worship, a subject I had never studied in depth before, even though leading it for forty years! The approach, in line with UTU philosophy, was to engage with the subject pragmatically, with reference to historic practice, the introduction of the Methodist Worship Book (1999) and current patterns in the Newcastle District. I was able to trace the development of Methodist worship from the time of the Wesley brothers and their twofold practice (observing both the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer and the free form preaching service), though the times of a relatively stable worship pattern to the multiform practices of the present time, investigating whether or not the latter may be regarded as essentially Methodist in nature.
I had a most stimulating and enjoyable nine years of tutoring and mentoring from John Vincent and Eric Wright and eventually achieved a PhD with Birmingham University. I will be ever grateful to the UTU for the experience. I believe my thesis to be a unique account and appraisal of the subject which may be regarded as a text worthy of consideration by others who may do related research. On line it may be found at etheses.bham.ac.uk/4416/1/Firth13PhD.pdf
Richard Firth 2019