Northern College Staff



Rosalind Selby – Principal

My role as Principal started in 2012; it was ‘back to’ Northern College where I trained. In between those times, I had pastoral charge of two churches in Thames North Synod. But I’m not really a ‘southerner’; my heart is probably on the ‘other’ side of the Pennines in Derbyshire and Yorkshire where much of my education and earlier life was based. In terms of church background, I grew up the daughter of a Congregational manse and was part of a church that voted enthusiastically for the URC in 1972. I have also worshipped, preached and been involved in the Methodist Church and feel privileged to have learned much from that time.

I first read Philosophy at Sheffield and then worked in various court- and office-based roles before becoming a full-time mum to Adam, Martha and Lydia who, as well as doing amazing things with their own lives, continue to be my best friends. I returned to the theology I had intended to read at Sheffield (a long story) through home-study and then an MA at Birmingham where I also began a PhD in New Testament Hermeneutics – I finished this at Aberdeen (an even longer story). During that time I taught Greek, Doctrines, and Philosophy of Religion part-time in various places in Birmingham. For complicated life reasons, I spent seven years working in family law before I responded to a call to ministry.

I feel very privileged to hold this challenging and rewarding post at Northern College, whose whole ethos and style of training plays an important part in preparing students for ministry in the URC. My teaching is mainly biblical, and I have developed a module (MA and BA) in reading the Bible in our global ecological context. I regularly travel to different synods and local churches to lead events and to preach. I am always pleased to receive invitations to do so.

My interests include film, crosswords, reading, walking and continuing to be involved in my local church.




Graham Adams – Tutor in World Christianity (including Mission Studies) and World Faith Traditions

I started as a full-time tutor here in 2012, and I really enjoy the work. My specific role, with ‘world’ in the title twice, constantly reminds me that I will never be on top of it! After all, global Christianity and religious diversity are vast, diverse and very dynamic subjects. Nevertheless, I enjoy glimpsing, and helping others to glimpse, the array of perspectives which invites us to see our faith in new ways, build relationships across all sorts of borders, and act in solidarity with any who suffer injustice.

My particular interests are: mission in the contemporary context of ‘Empire’ (the complex of economic and cultural forces dominating the globalised world); the theology of Andrew Shanks and its interaction with mission; theologies of religion (how might we account for and assess religious diversity?); and, more locally, developing links with the Faith Network 4 Manchester.

I am a Congregational minister. I was prepared for ministry at Northern College and ministered with Lees Street Congregational Church in inner Manchester (2002 to 2012, part-time), where I also supervised some student ministers. Alongside that, first I studied for a PhD with the University of Leeds, with the vital help of the Mona Powell Fellowship (Northern College) and a CWM scholarship. As my research drew to a close, I taught at Luther King House half-time (2007-8), then reworked my thesis for publication (Christ and the Other (2010)) and was employed by the Congregational Federation in training development. I continue to be a volunteer tutor on the CF’s Foundation Degree in Practical Theology. Several CWM experiences have been hugely significant, including a global ecumenical conference concerned with theology and economics, and a Bible Study project: ‘mission in the midst of Empire’.

I am married to Sheryl and we have a young daughter, Bethan.



Noel Irwin – Tutor in Public Theology and on the CRCW Programme

I grew up in Belfast…I think I have lost my accent, but no one else agrees with me! My initial studies were in philosophy and political science. Afterwards my ministerial training, for the Methodist Church, was all in Queen’s University Belfast. In my theological studies I focused on the Hebrew Bible and language with the highlight of undertaking a course in Jerusalem. I served in two appointments in Ireland (one in the north and one in the south) both of which were a mixture of church and university chaplaincy work.

I moved to inner city Sheffield in 2000 to work as a community outreach worker for the Church of England and then became Superintendent of the Methodist Mission in the centre of Sheffield. Meanwhile I was doing my PhD and I began training and teaching people for Methodist ministry through the Urban Theology Unit. Initially I combined my ministerial duties with working at UTU; I was then seconded to Luther King House to work for Hartley Victoria College and then Northern College.

My academic passions are political and public theology. I am very excited to be working with the Church-Related Community Work ministry programme which, hopefully, will keep me away from anything that looks like an ivory tower.

I relax by running (mostly up and down mountains), doing martial arts and working on my modern Hebrew. I am so chuffed to be part of Northern College!



Tim Mountain – Support and Development Tutor

In my late teens I left the urban jungle east of London, where I was brought up, to explore strange new worlds in Devon, Staffordshire, Kent, Lincolnshire and now Yorkshire. Along the way, I came to Christian faith in my early twenties, married Shirley and raised two children (now grown up and fledged), and completed a degree and PhD in biology. Armed with a PGCE, I taught in secondary schools for a few years, trained at Spurgeon’s College for Baptist ministry and obtained further degrees in Theology and Applied Theology. I pastored two churches: in Westerham, Kent for 8 years and Grantham, Lincolnshire for 16 years before taking up a post of tutor for Northern Baptist College in 2013. In autumn 2016 I started work for the URC in a role shared 50:50 between Northern College (Support and Development Tutor) and the North Western Synod (Learning and Development Officer).

If you were to ask about my approach to life, I might say I aspire to be a ‘contemplative in action’; I have written about, and offer, spiritual direction. I love natural history, most things creepy-crawly (but not wasps!), and being outside in the garden. Occasionally I play around on clarinet and guitar or massacre the piano. I have endured being a Spurs supporter since childhood, through which I continue to learn lessons about hope and shattered dreams, and a ‘long obedience in the same direction’.


Kathy White – Tutor for Old Testament/Hebrew Bible

I was ordained as a minister of Word and Sacraments in the URC in 2001, before which I worked as an Educational Drama specialist in the London Borough of Croydon. I’ve also worked as an architectural detailer, a picture researcher, a book designer and as a member of the Urban Churches Support Group in London. After spending the greater part of my life studying and working in various places south of the River Thames, it was nice to come back to my hometown (Warrington) in 2010 when I got my present job as Hebrew Bible Tutor at Northern College/Luther King House.

I’ve always been interested in the creative and expressive arts – my first degree was in graphic design – and I believe my passion for the Hebrew Bible has arisen from this background in the arts. I love the poetry, imagery and language of the Hebrew Bible and am fascinated by the visual imagination of the Hebrew language. My doctoral research was on water imagery and symbolism in the Old Testament and I had previously worked on a dissertation looking at Old Testament references to trees. Other things I really like include all things Italian, Indian food, travel, detective stories, the blues, celtic folk song and wildlife. I am married to Richard and we share our home with two Ragdoll cats.


Christine Thornborough – College Administrator

My first job on leaving college in 1974 was as secretary for an import-export firm based in Bredbury, Stockport, then, about two years later, I moved to Greater Manchester Buses (eventually Stagecoach Manchester) where I worked for just over 19 years in different locations and in various roles ranging from Secretary to Administrator, Administration Manager and latterly as Bullion Centre Manager.

In 1996 I moved to Securicor with the cash counting process until I came to Northern College in 2000 as College Administrator. Since I have been here I have worked with four principals (Revd Dr David Peel, Revd Dr John Campbell, Revd Dr John Parry as acting principal, and now Revd Dr Rosalind Selby). I have seen quite a few staff changes and many students go through their training.

I attend Oldham Baptist Church where I am a Deacon, Sunday School Teacher, Assistant Treasurer and undertake various other administrative roles.

I am married to Brian who is retired. We have an English Springer Spaniel dog called Charlie – he is a therapy dog registered with Pets as Therapy and Brian takes him into the local hospital and several care homes. In my ‘spare time’ I make and decorate cakes.