Friday, November 07, 2008

HTC Principal returning to Pastoral Ministry

News has just been published in the latest HTC Newsletter that Rev Professor Andrew McGowan, Principal and founder of HTC is to be inducted as minister of the East Church, Inverness and will leave his post as Principal at the end of January 2009. In the newsletter (which is not on the website yet), he writes of his calling back to the parish ministry - a move which takes him back to his initial calling. His departure will be a significant change and great loss for HTC, but he undoubtedly feels that his work in establishing the college is done. It has been, and continues to be, a remarkable story.

In the 14 years since HTC began, it has risen to become an internationally recognised Reformed institution reflecting the best of the Scottish Reformed tradition alongside an international Reformed teaching staff, some of whom are internationally recognised scholars in their own right. HTC is almost unique in the UK: it is thoroughly theological in the academic sense - you learn theology here as a discipline - and it is progressively Reformed in the true sense. The Westminster Standards form the background to the teaching, and this sits alongside a lively commitment to Biblical Studies and Biblical Theology, as well as progressive approaches to Reformed Pastoral Theology, together with the usual Systematics - which reflects Professor McGowan's own standing as a systematician who teaches around the world. HTCs achievements have been recognised by it's ratification as a training insitution by the Church of Scotland, alongside the four historic divinity departments at Edinburgh, St Andrews, Aberdeen and Glasgow. When you remember that this has been achieved in 14 years, it is an incredible testimony to the power of God in raising leaders, giving visions and the resources to bring them to fruition.

From a personal point of view, the departure of Professor McGowan will be a great loss. He has combined historic Scottish theology with new perspectives in the fields of federal theology and scripture. I greatly admire him as a theologian who is also a doer, an achiever . I'm sure that there are many who talk a good game about theological training, but who do not achieve a tenth of what has been achieved by Professor McGowan. I wish him all the best in his return to the work of the parish and I'm sure that his work at East Church will be blessed. It has been a privilege to study here during his Principalship - his return to the parish reminds us here at HTC that theologians are to serve the Church.

And what of the future?! I know that all of the staff here are superb, and not only those who teach. The vice-Principal, Hector Morrison, a Hebridean, was the co-founder of HTC, so we are ensured a continuity of vision. I am convinced that the Lord will continue the work for His Kingdom here, and that whoever takes up the reigns will continue the unique story of HTC.