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Wesley College, Bristol (formerly Wesley College, Headingley, Leeds, until, in 1967, the institution united with Didsbury College, Bristol, and was renamed)[1] was a theological college in the Henbury area of Bristol, England. It was the oldest provider of theological education for the Methodist Church of Great Britain[2] and the core institution of the South West Regional Training Network of the Methodist Church, where its partners were the South West Ministerial Training Course (SWMTC), based in Exeter and STETS in Salisbury. It was also involved with ecumenical education.[2]

Although established to prepare people for ordained ministry in the Methodist Church, and this was still a significant part of its work with an emphasis particularly on pre-ordination students who were studying part-time, the College programme became much more widely based. The teaching staff came from a wide range of Christian backgrounds. Student ministers worked alongside other students of theology, bringing a wider experience of life into the learning environment.

Wesley College provided a wide range of units in Christian theology, validated by the University of Bristol, most of which were open to lay people as well as those preparing for ordination. After 2008 the College offered a Foundation Degree (FdA) in Mission and Ministry validated by St. Mary's University College (Twickenham).

The College was a member of the Bristol Federation for Theological Education, where its partners were Bristol Baptist College and Trinity College, Bristol. As well as housing one of the most extensive theological libraries in the country, the College possessed an extensive archive with many unique documents and artefacts dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, many of them related to the Wesley family.[2]

The College was an important international research facility with students from Australia, United States, South Korea, India and Africa. Wesley College had a formal Graduate Research Agreement with Hyupsung University, South Korea and established exchange programmes with the Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary, South India, the United Church of Zambia Seminary at Kitwe and the Reutlingen Seminary, Germany.

All its courses were open to students from any denomination and the College was building a reputation for lay theological education including the nationally recognised Pastoral Carers' Course and partnerships with other religious denominations or bodies including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Clifton and the Benedictine Downside Abbey. The College also attracted students from the Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal and Holiness traditions.

The last College Principal prior to its closure in 2010 was Rev. Dr. Jonathan Pye[3] who was also Honorary Research Fellow in Medical Ethics in the University of Bristol and a recognised teacher in the University of Bristol and the University of Wales, Cardiff. Dr Pye has lectured extensively in the UK, USA and Canada, South Korea and Australia.


In July 2010, the Methodist Conference announced that Wesley College would close when current students had finished their training.[4] Enrolled at the College during the 09/10 academic year were four ministerial students sponsored by the Methodist Council, twenty-eight independently funded lay students on courses validated by the St Mary's University College or the University of Bristol, and sixty-four independently funded lay students on non-validated courses.[5]

In August 2015 it was agreed to donate a shipment of 38,000 ‘modern’ textbooks from the college to Kenya Methodist University.[6]


  1. ^ "Wesley College, Bristol - About Us".
  2. ^ a b c "Report of the Wesley College Review Group" (PDF). Methodist Conference. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Wesley College, Bristol" (PDF). Methodist Conference. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  4. ^ Staff (30 June 2010). "Methodist Conference votes to close Wesley College". BBC Bristol News. BBC. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  5. ^ "Report on Wesley College Bristol from the Methodist Council" (PDF). April 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2011.
  6. ^ Methodist Heritage Committee Annual Report 2016, accessed 23 December 2016

Coordinates: 51°30′06″N 2°37′18″W / 51.5017°N 2.6218°W / 51.5017; -2.6218