Founded in 1909, St John’s College Durham is both a theological training college supporting students training for ministry and ordination, and a recognised college of Durham University.
In 2016, Benefact Trust awarded St John’s College £100,000 in funding to support the development of a state of the art Learning Resource Centre, nestled on a World Heritage Site in the shadow of Durham Cathedral. The three storey library, lecture and study centre was the last piece in the jigsaw to ensure the sustainability of the college as student numbers grow, and would allow Christian training, leadership and research to flourish for generations to come.
In 2018, a further Allchurches’ grant allowed St John’s College to put the cherry on the cake of this beautiful new building, with the installation of a new audio visual system throughout.
Getting ahead of COVID-19
As COVID-19 has forced organisations to adopt a more digital style of working, the audio visual system meant that St John’s College could switch online in March 2020, in advance of lockdown, and offer high-quality digital learning to its students. With no confirmed date as to when face to face learning can resume, the resource centre and its digital capability has been invaluable.
There have still been challenges and it hasn’t been easy, as lecturers have had to adapt to designing content digitally, but the system has meant that the college can deliver lectures, events and conferences to support students, alumni and people from all over the world.
A former student at St John’s College, said: “My warmest thanks and appreciation for the streaming of services this year. It has made isolation so much more bearable and the Carol Service in particular was spectacular - really touching, and the epitome of everything John's stands for.”
Every year the college hosts its Borderland Lecture, which explores how big questions can cross disciplinary boundaries, featuring a range of voices from Christians, to other faiths, and none. The audio visual facilities meant that St John’s could go ahead with the 2020 lecture which featured the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell. Although under 30 people were physically present, a further 600 people joined online - a fantastic blueprint for future blended conferencing.
Andrew Bass, Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, said: “Delighted that our funding has been able to support both the development of the learning centre and the installation of the digital facilities, which have made such a difference during these challenging times. I was lucky enough to visit the centre when it was completed and it was amazing to see the opportunities it would open up for Christian training, leadership and research.”