The Bishop’s Certificate is a one-year course for anybody who wants to be more confident about what they believe, read the Bible with more understanding, and reflect on their journey as a Christian. It has six modules:

  • Following – about the New Testament
  • Remembering – about the Old Testament
  • Exploring – about the history of the Church and what it means to be Anglican
  • Believing – about the things Christians believe
  • Deepening – about living and praying as a follower of Jesus
  • Expecting – about putting your future into God’s hands.

Is it for me?

The Bishop’s Certificate is aimed at anybody who wants to grow in their faith. It is designed to enrich the life of anyone who has heard Jesus say, ‘Follow me,’ and responded as a disciple. Anybody who wants to love and serve the Lord faithfully will benefit.

Those who are beginning to explore whether God might be calling them to be a Priest, Deacon, Reader, Church Army Evangelist, Lay Pioneer or Children & Youth worker often take the course. And people who are training as a Southwark Pastoral Auxiliary (SPA) take the Bishop’s Certificate as the first year of their preparation.

About the course

Each module has five sessions, and you can choose to do them on a weekday evening or a Saturday. During each session a tutor will give you some input to think about, and guide you through discussions, creative activities and time to think by yourself. There is a course handbook which gives you everything you need, and plenty to read between sessions.

The course ends with a weekend at Wychcroft, the Southwark Diocese retreat centre, set in beautiful Surrey countryside. Later, a service in Southwark Cathedral celebrates the achievements of everyone who has taken part.

Is it hard work?

There are two routes through the course. The first is to attend the sessions, join in the discussions and enjoy what you are learning. There is no pressure. At the end of the year you will receive a scroll from the Bishop in recognition that you attended and participated in the course.

The second route is to undertake a short assignment – a formal piece of writing, or a more creative and personal reflection – at the end of each module. They will be marked in an encouraging way.

At the end of the year you will be presented with the Bishop’s Certificate. If this is the first step to becoming a SPA, Reader, Pioneer, Deacon or Priest (or if you just like a challenge), this is the route for you.

When and where is it held?

The course is taught in four groups:

  • Tuesday evenings at Trinity House, Borough.
  • Wednesday evenings online.
  • Thursday evenings online.
  • Saturday mornings at Trinity House, Borough.

What does it cost?

The cost of the course is £220 (including the residential weekend), and you will need to pay £40 of that as a non-returnable deposit to secure your place. Some parishes are able to support participants financially to undertake the course. We are determined that no one should be excluded on grounds of cost, and we would welcome a conversation about grants (if you live or worship within the Diocese of Southwark) or flexible ways of paying if that would help you.

How to apply

Send an e-mail to [email protected] and we will happily send you an application form and a full list of dates. Use the same e-mail address if you have any questions about the course.


I’ve loved doing the Bishop’s Certificate course  – six well-chosen topics which we covered thoroughly. The sessions used many different styles of learning in order to engage with the really engrossing content.

If you want to explore more about Christianity and meet like-minded people, the Bishop’s Certificate course is for you.

The tutors have been great – really supportive, committed, encouraging, and giving their undivided attention. The whole experience has been so rich … but in ways I could not have imagined beforehand.

Bishop’s Certificate Members’ Area

This is an area of the website available only to Bishop’s Certificate students. If you are a Bishop’s Certificate student, you can log in to access your course resources by clicking on the Members’ Area link (above). If you think you should have a password, please e-mail the contact below: [email protected]

The South London Church Fund and Southwark Diocese Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee (No. 236594).
Registered Office: Trinity House, 4 Chapel Court, Borough High Street, London SE1 1HW. Registered Charity: (No. 249678).

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