Theological education a work ‘in process’

Published April 1, 2010

IMAGINE avenues of co-operation.

The national gathering on theological education in Montreal in January had an unprecedented breadth of participation: heads of colleges and of native training programs, representatives of dioceses, and bishops from across our country.

Given the wide range of issues broached, the divinity of perspectives, and our polity of structures, independent schools in cooperation with the Church, it is no surprise that the conference really amounted to the launching of a process.

A proposal for an on-going commission on theological education will be brought to General Synod.

A constant refrain of the conference was that, on the one hand, the Church is in considerable distress, and, on the other hand our resources are strained in the present climate. So it would seem wise to imagine avenues of cooperation that are economical, feasible, and conducive to further mutual efforts. In this spirit, I would propose the following next term agenda for the hoped-for commission:

1. The college and programs should cooperate to publish a joint compendium of online courses, intensive courses, and flexible programs they offer, so that Anglicans in less accessible access can see what is already available from a distance. We cannot afford reinvented wheels.

2. We should heed the conference’s call to cooperate in progress to support indigenous theological education in ways that are approved by native Anglican leaders. A ‘mixed economy’ of local training and starter educational experience in larger schools may be advantageous. (The Sudbury Consultation made a good start in this direction.)

3. A dearth of lay formational and catechetical materials by and for Anglican Canadians now exists. Two decades ago series such as Logos in Diocese of Toronto were in full swing, but this is no longer so. Schools and dioceses have a mutual interest in meeting the ‘catechetical crisis’ (Bishop Mark Macdonald at the conference) by creating such resources.

4. We all should commit support for student bursars, for example through the Anglican Foundation.

5. With respect to standards and their evaluation, we should encourage these to emerge from present best practices. We can borrow from Theological Education in the Anglican Communion (TEAC) grids as well as local resources (e.g. Wycliffe already has comprehensive exams, and sibling schools have similar practices). TEAC’s grids for different orders of ministry were intended for just the kind of diversity of contexts we are dealing with. They could be adapted and applied provincially in the kind of cooperative effort we see in OPCOTE (Ontario Provincial Commission on Theological Education).

While the need before us may seem daunting, we can discuss appropriate next steps we can take together that begin to address by God’s grace, that end.

— The Rev. Canon Dr. George Sumner is president of Wycliffe College, University of Toronto.


Related Posts

Keep on reading

Skip to content