Professor Paul Foster

Prof Paul Foster’s says:

My motivation for undertaking theological studies was to be able to read the Bible in its original languages. Although achieving this goal was not something that was quickly realised, the benefits have been enormous. Reading the New Testament in the very words that the authors penned opens up new horizons of understanding, it helps one see the original writers’ concerns more clearly, and brings the world of the New Testament alive.

I enjoy working across a range of New Testament and Early Christian literature, since that permits a holistic view of the development and emergence of the early Jesus movement. In particular in relation to the New Testament, I have worked on pre-gospel sources such as Q, and the M source although I am sceptical that the latter ever existed as a coherent source. In relation to the New Testament writing a long-term interest is the Gospel of Matthew, and several letters of Paul including Colossians and the Thessalonian epistles. Furthermore, the phenomenon of wider gospel literature, known as the non-canonical gospels, is also another area that has fascinated me as a window into the piety of early believers. I have written extensively on the text known as the Gospel of Peter, as well as a range of other non-canonical gospels.

A final major area of interest in my academic biography is collection of writings known as the Apostolic Fathers. These writings reflect the emergence of structures that became foundational in the early church. The writings of Ignatius and Polycarp depict early Christianity in the first half of the second century.

Together these interests permit an overview of Christianity in the first two centuries of its existence.

Esther Swaffield

Esther Swaffield, part of the UK leadership for IJM will lead this lecture. She heads a dynamic team who work across the UK to engage local partners, champions and supporters in this global movement to end slavery and violent oppression. She is a gifted communicator and loves sharing stories of breakthroughs from around the world. Esther is based in Durham.

The Work of International Justice Mission

International Justice Mission is a global organisation working with partners to protect people in poverty from slavery, trafficking and violence.

As the world’s largest international anti-slavery organisation, the IJM mission is to rescue millions, protect half a billion and make justice for people in poverty unstoppable.


Ending slavery and human trafficking is possible  – when people around the world choose to act.


IJM’s work involves: bringing people to safety, bringing criminals to justice and strengthening justice systems. They recruit local teams and work with local partners. Survivors regularly become part of the work and leaders themselves. IJM builds trust by tackling individual cases then moves on to system-wide change.

IJM are making a major impact in a range of locations and independent reviews are showing a 50-85% reduction in slavery and trafficking in areas where they are working.

IJM need our help as champions to advocate for protection as an essential and tangible future for everyone.

Mark Vasey Saunders

Mark studied English Literature and History in York at the then University College of Ripon & York St John.

After graduation, he worked for IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students) in Ukraine for 2 years, before returning home to pursue ordination. He trained at Cranmer Hall, and then went on to serve his curacy at St Mary the Virgin, Ponteland, in Newcastle Diocese. Whilst in Newcastle Diocese he was part of the Diocesan Evangelism Taskgroup that delivered a MAP-based Mission Strategy for the diocese.

After the completion of his curacy he worked as University Chaplain at Newcastle University, and then as a Team Vicar & Pioneer Minister in the Retford Area Team Ministry in Southwell & Nottingham Diocese. During this time he was a tutor delivering Lay Reader training for the All Saints Centre for Mission & Ministry course. He completed his part-time PhD from Durham on Evangelical responses to homosexuality in 2013.

He was appointed Academic Tutor at St Hild College in 2017. He oversees the formation of part time and full time Anglican ordinands at St Hild Sheffield. He leads modules in Doctrine, Advanced Christian Ethics and Mission Entrepreneurship.

Mark Oakley

The Rev’d Dr Mark Oakley read Theology at London and Oxford before being ordained in St Paul’s Cathedral in 1993. He served his title at St John’s Wood Church and then served as Chaplain to the Bishop of London, Rector of St Paul’s, Covent Garden (known as ‘the Actors’ Church), Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe and, from 2010 to 2018, Chancellor and Residentiary Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral. He is a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Kings College London and Visiting Scholar at Sarum College. He is also Canon Theologian of Wakefield cathedral and Canon Emeritus of Holy Trinity cathedral, Brussels. Since 1996 he has also been a Deputy Priest in Ordinary to HM the King. He was appointed Dean in 2018.

His duties as Dean include the overall responsibility of the conduct of the services in the College Chapel and oversight of pastoral care provided by the Chapel within the College community. He is also responsible for the appointment of clergy to the College’s 39 livings (parishes) with which the College has long had official connections. He is Tutor for College students of mathematics and computer sciences.  Dr Oakley is the author of several books, the latest being My Sour-Sweet Days and The Splash of Words: Believing in Poetry. He is an Ambassador for StopHate UK, Patron of Tell MAMA (supporting those affected by anti-Muslim hate crime) and a Trustee of the Civil Liberties Trust. His interests include poetry, theatre and human rights.