Category : Seminary / Theological Education

(Church Times) Church of England strategy to increase ordinands takes its toll on dioceses

Dioceses may struggle to cope financially with the national target of adding 50 per cent to the number of ordinands by 2020, a Church Times survey suggests.

A questionnaire sent to diocesan secretaries and directors of ordinands discovered that, although all seemed to support the target, all but one of those who responded were concerned, or very concerned, about how this might be financed. One wrote: “The desire is there, but not the funding.” Some are undermining the strategy by capping the number of people recommended for training.

Financial anxiety is focused on the cost of training, but also what happens after training: many dioceses will struggle to support and house an increased number of assistant curates, and are warning ordinands that they will not be able to return. Other dioceses are looking for cheaper training pathways, or hoping for an influx of self-supporting (i.e. non-stipendiary) clergy.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship

Happy Birthday to Christian Spirituality Author and Pioneer James Houston at 95

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Canada, Seminary / Theological Education

(Church Times) ‘Underfunded’ [C of E] theological training facing ‘collapse’

The people responsible for training the next generation of Anglican clergy — the principals of theological colleges and courses — have said that the system is in crisis.

Just as the Church of England seeks to expand the number of ordinands by 50 per cent, the leaders of the theological education institutions (TEIs) have told this paper that the training process is “totally underfunded”, “starved of funds”, and “quite likely to collapse”.

The Principal of St Augustine’s College, Kent (until 2015, the South East Institute of Theological Education), the Revd Dr Alan Gregory, said in reply an enquiry: “I agree that the financial situation is a critical one. We are like the story of the donkey whose feed was reduced until he dropped down dead. We are almost in the position of the donkey every year.”

Finding funds for clergy training has never been easy, and there is a historical element to the crisis, as too many training institutions have chased too few candidates for ordination. But a new move this year has caused more uncertainty, handing funding decisions from the Archbishops’ Council to the dioceses.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship

(AI) Bp Dan Martins out at Nashotah House

In his on-line diary, “Moving Diagonally” Bishop Martins wrote that the meeting of the corporation had been “fairly routine, save for the results of the election and reelection of members of the Board of Directors, of which I have been the chairman for five years.”

“I was not reelected. This is a shock–to me and to many others,” Bishop Martins wrote, adding: “There are complicated political forces in play, which is probably all I should say in this venue. It will take me a while to process this, but I can say that *part* of what I will feel is relieved of a great burden of time and energy that has gone into my board duties. But it is a shock.”

The acting dean of the seminary, Dr. Garwood Anderson, confirmed Bishop Martins had not been re-elected, and Canon Monk elected chairman in his place. Bishop Martins “remains a member of the Corporation – the larger body that supports the seminary, whence are drawn members for the Board of Directors, and which elects members to the Board of Directors,” wrote Dr. Anderson.

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, TEC Bishops

Daniel Westberg, Professor of Ethics and Moral Theology at Nashotah House, RIP

Fr. Westberg’s most recent book was Renewing Moral Theology: Christian Ethics as Action, Character and Grace (InterVarsity Press, 2015).  He co-authored Preaching the Lectionary (3rd ed.; Liturgical Press, 2006) with the late Professor Reginald Fuller.

It was exceedingly gratifying to have served as Fr. Westberg’s dean for ten and colleague at Nashotah House for twelve years.  Dan had a brilliant mind and keen sense of humor.  He had a quiet demeanor–a gentle man and a gentleman.  As a professor, he was a friend and mentor who spent time with his students and truly cared about their spiritual as well as their intellectual formation.  But, above all, he was a godly man who truly lived the faith he proclaimed.  Dan’s tragic death is a great loss for Nashotah House.  He will be missed by all who knew him, but especially by his wife Lisa, his father, a brother and three sisters, four adult children, and three grandchildren who survive him.

We commend our brother into the loving arms of God.  May he rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon him.  Our prayers go out for Lisa and Dan’s family.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Death / Burial / Funerals, Seminary / Theological Education

Rod Dreher–Face It, Parents of Faith: There Is No Peace in the midst of the current culture

I write in this space quite a bit about how conservative Christian parents (and others) are largely — and willfully — clueless about what’s going on in this post-Christian culture, and how they ought to be thinking about it and responding to it. When I talk to pastors, educators, and others about what they’re seeing on the ground, I find this view of mine affirmed with depressing regularity. We are in a terrible crisis, but insofar as far too many Christian parents think, it’s a crisis of a threat from Islam, or from liberal elites, or homosexuals, or any number of villains that are easy to identify. I don’t deny that all of these groups, and many others, do pose a challenge to the Christian faith, but by far the most important and neglected challenge is that posed by the widespread failure of parents and church communities to pass the faith on to their children.

This is not a problem you can address by voting, or by judicial rulings, or by restricting immigration, or by watching more Fox News. Nor is it a problem you can address by going to church on Sunday, dropping your kid off at youth group mid-week, and leaving it at that. Nor is it a problem you can address by simply affirming the correct set of propositions.

Over and over, I hear from pastors and Christian educators that the biggest obstacle to forming the hearts and minds of the community’s children in an authentically Christian way are parents. Parents who want to outsource the job to the school and the church, versus working in harmony with the school and the church to accomplish this mission. Parents who get mad at the school or the church for being demanding of their children (and of them). The plain fact, amply demonstrated by the sociology of religion, is this: there is no single factor more important in determining whether or not a child will keep the faith than the example set by parents.

Read it all (emphasis his).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family, Secularism, Seminary / Theological Education

Anglican Church of Bermuda Launches a New Training Course in partnership with St Mellitus College, London

Saturday, October 21 at 11.00am – St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Paget: Inspired Souls- Reflections on Saints and Holy People from Around the World

“Modern celebrity has become an increasing feature of our media obsessed society. From The Rolling Stones to Rhianna, the phenomena reflects something of a human need for heroes who exhibit an unusual quality. In the history of the Christian faith, can the same human tendency be applied to the veneration of saints?

“What is it about their lives and experiences that attracts interest throughout the ages? The lecture focuses on the stories of saints and holy people from diverse backgrounds and their relevance to modern life.”

Saturday, October 21 at 2.00pm – St Paul’s Anglican Church, Paget: Come as we are: Representation and the Church

“Europe is experiencing a resurgence in a political narrative around nationalism as a reaction to mass migration, terrorism and growing social and economic inequality. In the face of such challenges, how does the Church live out the reality of the Gospel and the kingdom of heaven where an emphasis is on loving others and the stranger is preeminent?”

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Seminary / Theological Education

James Jordan–“..We should sing the Bible in worship. When I found out that the Church used to do it, and then stopped, I was amazed. “

I was speaking with a minister in the Reformed Episcopal Church a while back, and he told me a revealing incident that happened during his ordination examination. An older clergyman asked him if the psalter were an important part of prayer, and thus of counseling and worship. When my friend replied in the affirmative, the older clergyman asked him to give the theme and gist of every psalm, starting with the first and ending with the 150th. My friend, who had spent some years in Episcopalianism and thus knew some of the psalms, struggled for a while, but finally had to give up. The older clergyman opposed his ordination, maintaining that my friend should master the psalter before presuming to lead God’s people.

Amazing? Surprising? I think not. In fact, I think that the older gentleman’s position is absolutely correct. I think this is a great ordination question – though I confess that I would fail it. After all, I’ve spent twenty years in hard-core, Bible-believing, tough-as-nails, Reformed, evangelical Presbyterian churches, so I barely know the psalter. I only know what I’ve studied on my own.

Here’s a question for you: Given that our theological seminaries have chapel services daily, or at least several times a week, how many of them teach the students to sing all 150 psalms during chapel? How would you like to have a pastor who went to seminary where the psalms were taken seriously? A pastor who was taught to sing the psalms, and who was familiar with all of them?

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Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology: Scripture

A Church Times Article on the recently released C of E Ministry Statistics

The statistics, published on Wed­nesday, show signs that the drive to nurture vocations to the ordained ministry — a central plank of the Renewal and Reform programme — is having an effect. Overall, the number of those entering training is 14 per cent higher than last year (476 candidates).

None the less, the C of E must reach its target of 50 per cent more ordinands by 2020 if it is to reverse the overall decline in clergy num­bers. At the present rate, people are not entering the ministry at the same rate as others are retiring.

Another Renewal and Reform target is to recruit younger and more diverse candidates. Ordinands are younger than last year: 28 per cent of this year’s intake are under the age of 32, compared with 23 per cent last year. At the other end of the age range, 16 per cent are aged 55 or above, compared with 20 per cent of last year’s intake. The overall number of new ordinands under the age of 39 rose by 39 per cent, from 109 to 151….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education

(Telegraph) Priests-in-training to be given glossaries because they struggle to understand the Book of Common Prayer

Priests-in-training are to be given glossaries to help them understand the Book of Common Prayer for the first time because they struggle to decipher the language.

The Prayer Book Society, which gives out free copies of the 17th century book to first-year students in theological colleges, will this year also include a key to some of its more old-fashioned words and phrases.

The list includes definitions for words such as “eschew” meaning abstain from, “concord”, for an agreement between people, and “froward”, meaning perverse or contrary.

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Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education

Brad East Pays Tribute to Robert W Jenson RIP (1930–2017)

Jenson passed away yesterday, having been born 87 years earlier, one year after the great stock market crash of 1929. He lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, Roe v. Wade, the rise and fall of the Religious Right, the fall of the Soviet Union, September 11, 2001, the election of the first African-American U.S. President, and much more. He also lived through, and in many ways embodied, a startling number of international, ecclesial, and academic theological trends: ecumenism; doctrinal criticism; analytic philosophy of language; Heidegerrian anti-metaphysics; French Deconstructionism; the initially negative then positive reception of Barth in the English-speaking world; the shift away from systematics to theological methodology (and back again!); post–Vatican II ecclesiology; “death of God” theology; process theology; liberation theologies (black, feminist, and Latin American); virtue ethics; theological interpretation of Scripture; and much more.

Jenson studied under Peter Brunner in Heidelberg and eventually spent time in Basel with Barth, on whose theology he wrote his dissertation, which generated two books in his early career. He was impossibly prolific, publishing hundreds of essays and articles as well as more than 25 books over more than 55 years.

Initially an activist, Jenson and his wife Blanche—to whom he was married for more than 60 years, and whom he credited as co-author of all his books, indeed, “genetrici theologiae meae omniae”—marched and protested and spoke in the 1960s against the Vietnam War and for civil rights for African-Americans. His politics was forever altered, however, in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. As he wrote later, he assumed that those who had marched alongside him and his fellow Christians would draw a logical connection from protection of the vulnerable in Vietnam and the oppressed in America to the defenseless in the womb; but that was not to be. Ever after, his politics was divided, and without representation in American governance: as he said in a recent interview, he found he could vote for neither Republicans nor Democrats, for one worshiped an idol called “the free market” and the other worshiped an idol called “autonomous choice,” and both idols were inimical to a Christian vision of the common good.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Lutheran, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Post-Gazette) New Testament Scholar Robert Gagnon Leaves Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Robert A.J. Gagnon, a biblical scholar who became one of the most outspoken and polarizing opponents of same-sex practice in a generation of debates within his and other Protestant denominations, has resigned from the faculty of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

The seminary is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a denomination that debated sexuality for decades before deciding in 2011 to ordain non-celibate gays and lesbians and in 2015 to authorize same-sex marriages in its churches. Mr. Gagnon, an ordained elder in the denomination, spoke out often against such liberalizing trends.

The seminary and the professor “mutually agreed to end their relationship” effective this past Monday, the East Liberty school said. Mr. Gagnon, 59, was a tenured professor of New Testament and had been on the faculty for 23 years.

“We appreciate the contributions Professor Gagnon has made to our students and the community during his time here and we wish him the best in his future endeavors,” a seminary statement said.

Read it all.

Posted in Seminary / Theological Education

(America) Ellen Koneck–How modern technology helped me teach theology to uninterested college students

I have found that it is unproductive to force theological ideas—like Augustine’s understanding of evil, Dante’s depiction of the beatific vision or Flannery O’Connor’s morbid but hopeful anthropology—into the minds of students despite their disinterest.

Instead, I try to translate the import of these weighty concerns, claims and questions so students can feel what Augustine or Dante felt when facing these existential summits, or so they can entertain Plato’s suggestion that perception and reality are not necessarily what they seem.

Theology is impotent and irrelevant when simply presented as a set of ideas, doctrines or conclusions to be passively internalized. Instead, it is the kind of discipline that requires first making the questions that drive theological inquiry meaningful, long before answers can even be introduced.

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Posted in Education, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Young Adults

Trinity School for Ministry appoints associate Professor of Practical Theology and Director of the Doctor of Ministry program

Trinity School for Ministry is pleased to announce the appointment of The Rev. Dr. Jack Gabig as the new Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program. Trinity’s Board of Trustees ratified the call to Dr. Gabig after a unanimous vote of the faculty in July.

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of The Rev. Dr. Jack Gabig as a full-time member of our residential faculty,” said The Very Rev. Dr. Henry L. Thompson III, Dean & President of Trinity. “He brings many years of pastoral wisdom, creative energy, innovative thinking, passion for academic rigor, and an abundance of love centered in the love of Jesus Christ.”

Dr. Gabig received his MDiv from Trinity School for Ministry and then served for eight years as Assistant Rector at the Church of the Ascension in Pittsburgh, PA. He then moved to England where he completed his Ph.D. at King’s College in London during which time he served as a Chaplain at New College, Oxford. Dr. Gabig, who currently serves as the Associate Professor of Practical Theology and the Director of Advanced Degree Programs at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, WI, will join the Trinity Community on August 28, 2017

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Posted in Seminary / Theological Education

Dean and President of Nashotah House to Step Down From Leadership At The End Of August

The Board of Directors of Nashotah House announced on Monday that the Very Rev. Steven Peay, Dean and President, will step down from his leadership position on August 31, 2017. Dean Peay has been appointed Research Professor of Homiletics and will remain affiliated with the seminary upon the conclusion of his service as Dean and President. Dr. Garwood P. Anderson, Ph.D., Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament studies, will assume the position of Acting Dean, effective September 1. Dr. Anderson is well-known to the Nashotah House community due to his many years of dedicated service as a teacher, scholar, and previous academic dean.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Seminary / Theological Education