JWTC Library

of John Wycliffe College

The History of John Wycliffe Theological College

With great joy we witnessed the graduation of our first group of students who began their studies in January 1996 and completed in December 1998. Since then, we have continued to enjoy the Lord's sustaining grace and kindness in a growing student body. At the time of our first graduation, we recorded the following brief history of the college and vision for the sake of posterity:

Nearly twenty years ago, the session of the English Reformed Church began to think seriously about the establishment of a theological college with the express purpose of training men for the gospel ministry. Even then, some of the elders had been burdened with the need for many years. The goal was to prepare men who would be like Wycliffe's Lollard preachers. The Lollards were known as "poor preachers," because they were prepared to forsake every worldly and even every church advancement in order that the grace of God in our Lord Jesus Christ might be preached.

We are looking to train men of the same Kingdom ambition.

The vision slowly became focused. The aim was to establish a college, as a ministry of the English Reformed Church that set the highest spiritual and academic standards we were able to attain. The elders of the church were to bear the burden of overseeing every aspect of the work. It was not intended that the college should serve our own tiny denomination, but to serve the desperate need that was observed in the declining church in our land. With this in mind, in 1990, two men from the ERC were sent to
Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, USA, to prepare themselves to be teachers of men who would seek training as pastors.

It was also decided that the course of studies for the students should be offered without cost to those men who would come to be trained in Christ's service.

One significant obstacle faced us, namely, the academic standing of the proposed course of study. The elders of the ERC traveled to the
USA and to the UK looking for help and academic recognition. They were received sympathetically, but nothing it seemed could be done to extend formal academic accreditation. This problem seemed insuperable.

Yet, in the Lord's goodness it was not any approach to an overseas institution, but a meeting with the faculty at the
Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education that brought what was hoped for. This has meant that we have been able to offer graduates of the college a fully accredited theological degree. The wonderful graciousness of our reception by Potchefstroom University in 1995, when we first raised the possibility of cooperation with them, has been the tenor of our relationship ever since. In January1996 a contract was signed, and we have continued to benefit from our ongoing contacts.

In the three years of our existence, several principles have been closely adhered to:

  • The exclusive focus of training men to be ministers of the gospel of Christ.
  • The academic and spiritual standards of the highest order.
  • The offering of theological education without cost.
  • The oversight of the elders of the congregation.

    The cost has been high. We have seen setbacks of many kinds. There have been sleepless nights and tears. Our needs and weaknesses have been exposed. We have come to know again and again that in the Lord's kingdom there are no compromises that do not cost, and no faithfulness that does not bear fruit in his time.

    We are looking to our Lord for grace to continue this ministry as long as he strengthens our weak arm and enables us to look to him. Please pray earnestly that the work may be the Lord's - even as the glory will be ultimately only his.

Since this time in 1998, the College has progressed slowly, but we rejoice in the Lord's continual sustaining grace.
Our relationship with Potchefstroom has changed since its merger with other Universities led to the formation of North-West University in 2004. While our interaction has shifted formally, in substance it has remained virtually unaltered, especially concerning the courses we offer and the approach we take to ministerial training.

One of the most exciting aspects of our work since 1998 has been the door of opportunity opened to us in Kwa Zulu Natal. From the greater Durban area in this province we have had the blessing of working with 12-15 students, most of whom minister in the Indian community. We have also hosted numerous students from Zambia on a provisional basis and are seeking the Lord's face regarding our role in that country.

We are very glad to have a permanent location for the College, separate from the library, and a residence facility for students.

We continue to face many challenges in a country where the church, when it comes to ministerial training, generally has little serious regard for the Scriptures and does not take a careful approach in teaching them. In the end, we recognize that even the smallest advancement has occurred solely by the Lord's grace to us as his unworthy servants.