Want to know more about the programme? Here we address some of the questions we have been asked.
What is the programme for?
FLTI is designed to support faith leaders in the task of ministering effectively in the contemporary UK. It isn’t a religious education programme in that sense, since if you’re a faith leader you will already know plenty about your religion and probably quite a bit about other religions too. Instead, from a religiously-sensitive perspective, it addresses some of the challenges you have to face in public life which you might not have had to engage with previously and which your previous training might not have prepared you for - issues around British public life and policy, legal requirements and protections, family life, equalities and diversity, etc. We will help you navigate the challenges of public life constructively and sensitively from a perspective that understands committed and conservative religious faith. We will help you understand what English law requires and what best practice is in all these areas, showing you what you have to do and how to do it positively, effectively and efficiently without patronising you or undermining your religious commitments.
Who is the programme for?
Anyone who is in a recognised leadership role in their faith community. You don’t need to be ‘clergy’ (though priests and ministers of all kinds are of course welcome), but you do need to be in a formal or informal position of responsibility. You could be a trustee of a faith-based charity, a director of a faith-based company, leader of the children’s work team at your place of worship, a volunteer administrative worker, a churchwarden, elder or other religious official, but you need to be in a position to influence or contribute to policy and practice in your faith community in some way. If in doubt, do ask us!
What do you mean by ‘faith community’?
Any religious organisation or group. Most often these will be places of worship, but faith-based charities, interreligious groups and other groups with a focus on religion and the community are also welcome, whether working in the UK or overseas, as long as they are based in England (because all our advice will be based upon English law and policy).
How many people can come on the course from my organisation?
Within reason, as many as want to. We have limited space available on the face-to-face training sessions, so if you want to send more than 4 or 5 people please contact us first so we can check availability. If you have lots more than this wanting to take the course, it might be possible for us to come to you to offer a special bespoke version of the training. Contact us to ask for advice on this.
How long does the training take?
The training programme has 4 modules, each of which will take about 4 hours of face-to-face training. You could probably work through the online material a little more quickly but to do it justice and think it through will take at least 2-3 hours per module.
Do I have to come to all the sessions?
It is best if you can - this is the ideal, because it means you’ll get the benefit of the face-to-face training, the special guests, the interaction with fellow religious leaders from across your region and the opportunity to build friendships, discuss collaboration and develop new understanding. However we realise we are all busy people. If you can’t make one of the face-to-face sessions in your district, you can always work through the online version of that particular module, do it in another district as a one-off or take that module the next time we teach it in your area. We are very happy to advise you. You can’t earn the programme certificate without completing all four modules in some way, though.
What do I get out of it?
Hopefully some new friends, some really good ideas, some inspiration, support and encouragement, but most importantly, current and clear advice as to how you can navigate the practical challenges of ministering in the UK. And recognition of your hard work and commitment in a certificate of completion which we will present to you in a final ceremony, and a certificate that your organisation can display too. You’ll also be a member of the national FLTI Alumni Network, which means you’ll get a regular newsletter from us which will highlight any changes to the advice we gave in the class sessions and provide short supplementary training, and you’ll have continuing access to the FLTI resources on the University of Birmingham’s learning environment ‘Canvas’, which will be kept up-to-date.
How much does it cost?
Nothing. FLTI is provided to you free of charge. The programme is funded by the UK Government, specifically the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), which is the department responsible for faith, integration and communities among other things. The programme is a key component of the Government’s integrated communities strategy and is funded because they believe helping faith leaders in these areas is an excellent investment in the wider community. And it is.
Who is running the course?
The course is being managed by a consortium [link] of organisations representing a variety of faiths and responsibilities in public life, led by the Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion at the University of Birmingham.
Who will be teaching me?
Experienced teachers and trainers who will have been carefully selected by the programme team and trained to deliver this course. They will be faith leaders themselves with insight into the challenges you face and a commitment to working to support you in developing your skills.
What will I be learning?
This is not a theological education programme. There are many other excellent programmes for training leaders and congregants in the core principles of their religion. Instead, FLTI focusses on addressing the practical challenges we face as faith leaders in the UK. For example, English marriage law is complex and quite different from the equivalent laws in many Asian countries. And charity law and financial management are incredibly challenging areas to come to terms with if you have not had to worry about them before now. Then what do you do if asked for advice by your congregations about, for example, how they should report hate crime, whether they should permit an organ transplant, how they might support their children’s mental wellbeing at times of deep stress and trauma, confront a family friend who wishes his daughter to go through ‘cutting’ at puberty? We will help you build your understanding of how to respond to these challenges and many like them.
Do I have to write essays?
No. There are no essays or exams - there is a short multiple choice test for each module, for you to check your own understanding. For the online course, you’ll have to get 80% on this test to get your completion certificate but if you’ve worked through the material you will know the answers, and you can retake the tests multiple times.
Why aren’t you teaching the course in my area?
Our funding for 2019-20 only covers England and only four areas. We very much hope to extend the programme beyond April 2020 into different districts and potentially to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, dependent upon need and funding. Anyone from the UK can sign up to do the online version of the programme though and if there are a few of you in your area who would like the training, contact the Cadbury Centre and we will see what we can do to help.
Is the training only in English?
At present yes, but we are seriously considering creating versions of the course in Urdu and Punjabi and potentially other languages (perhaps Welsh, Arabic, Mandarin) in future. If non-English versions of the programme would be of interest, please contact us and let us know — it will help us measure demand and prioritise any translation work we do.