Thinking Anglicans

Financial issues around Resourcing Ministerial Education

The Bishop of Sheffield has issued this clarification of the financial issues around Resourcing Ministerial Education.

General Synod begins tomorrow and we are just a day or so away from the initial debate on Resourcing Ministerial Education.

My attention has been drawn to a couple of posts and circulars about RME which attempt to argue that the proposals, if agreed, signal “an end to residential training”.

This is very wide of the mark indeed. I look forward to answering the points raised fully in the Synod debate but it may help Synod members and others to have a few points of clarification in advance.

The RME Report is very clear that we are looking to see a very significant increase in the numbers of ordinands in training and that we see the importance of all current forms of training pathways (including residential training) as part of the mixed economy.

The Report is also very clear that this uplift in the numbers in training cannot be achieved without a significant increase in the total resource allocated (we have worked with a figure of a 50% increase in funding or £10 million per annum to correspond with the potential 50% increase in ordinands).

The overall background to the Report is therefore about growth and confidence in the sector not about erosion. Nor is the RME report about doing more with less resource but about increasing resource commensurate with the number of ordinands.

The anxiety which leads to some predicting (prematurely) the demise of residential training rests on some of the detailed proposals, particularly Proposals 6 and 7.

The Report signals clearly that all of these proposals will be subject to further detailed work and consultation with dioceses and TEI’s in the coming months. General Synod is not being asked to approve these proposals but to approve the general vision and direction of the Report.

Proposal 6 assigns a standard grant to each ordinand and proposes giving the diocese a larger role in decisions about training pathways. At present, the decision about pathways is entirely separate from the consequences in terms of costs. Under the RME proposals the diocese’s decision will be made within a framework in which Bishop’s Guidelines, the options available in training institutions and the candidate’s own vocation and preferences will all have a part. A diocese will be able to invest money not spent on one candidate’s training on another’s training and therefore able to fund candidates on both residential and non-residential pathways (as at present) providing we set the standard grant at the right level. Dioceses will have training budgets which have to be invested in the training of candidates – in others words there will be mitigating factors which will prevent this simply becoming a cost-cutting exercise.

Proposal 7 proposes discontinuing the pooling of maintenance grants for candidates families in training. Please note that we are not proposing discontinuing maintenance grants for families – simply the pooling of these costs (which currently amount to £5 million per annum or 25% of the total pooled IME budget of £20 million). This is a very large investment overall and again, one of the purposes of the proposal is to connect a decision about investment in a candidate’s support with the consequences of that decision. Dioceses will continue to have the discretion to invest the amount they currently invest in candidate support in the support of married students and their families. However dioceses may want to explore with students other means of support for candidates where this is a priority.

There is much still to be determined about how the funding will flow. This will be the subject of further consultation in the coming weeks.

However, we first need to establish through the Synod debates this week whether the General Synod will support the overall vision and acknowledge that additional funding will be needed to make it possible. Only when these prior questions have been answered will it be possible to explore in detail how the arrangements in Proposals 1-12 would work and the effect on institutions.

My own hope would be that as a result of the RME proposals we would see the number of ordinands rise overall and the number of candidates in residential training remain at at least its present level in terms of numbers. I therefore believe that residential training has a secure and long term future as a key part of the mixed economy of training the Church of England offers

+Steven Sheffield

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Tom MarshallAnthony ArcherMark BennetPerry ButlerAlastair Newman Recent comment authors
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Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

On married ordinands in training – first the current proposal looks too much at the sending diocese. I trained as a married ordinand and have served in three dioceses – I was sponsored by a fourth, where I have never served. Second, married ordinands with children in residential training inevitably move three times while their children are young (to college, from college, from curacy) with no real security of tenure, with all the challenge that makes for school arrangements. To reduce the likelihood of support (which is very thin at the moment – significantly less than a stipend, for example)… Read more »

Robin Ward
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Robin Ward

I’m very grateful that you posted this, as I wouldn’t have heard about it otherwise.

Simon Sarmiento
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Robin, so TEI principals weren’t copied in by the Chair of the Ministry Council? Quelle surprise…

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Is St Johns Nottingham ceasing residential training?
I read something on Ian Paul’s blog …..

And how is Wycliffe doing after Turnbull?
How did that ever happen …………… some really promising people were disastrously damaged, particularly women.

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

Has St Stephen’s House heard of the internet? This is real time stuff! No doubt a copy of the release could be sent snail mail!

Father David
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Father David

How ridiculous a move it was all those years ago, to close down Lincoln Theological College with its vast amount of married accommodation. Founded by the great Edward White Benson – a city built on a hill. Now the powers that be are wondering why that in the next 10 years 40% of the stipendiary clergy will be retiring and so the panic has set in at the self created chaos and all that is offered to fill the forthcoming void is “Reimagining Ministry”, which sounds to me like a bit of a fairy tale.

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

For once I find myself agreeing with Fr David!
Lincoln 1978-80……

NJ
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NJ

Will any of these proposals include greater allowance for self-funding? When Chair of AOCM in mid 2000s I suggested Hind Report working parties give this greater formal approval. The bishops seemed nervous that allowing self-funding would mean ordinands exerting greater choice over how and where to train, and the last thing bishops want is to lose control! I self-funded the last of my 4 years at college, as did perhaps a third of my contemporaries.

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

The Church of England is the only province (actually two) within the Anglican Communion that meets the training costs of its ordinands centrally. It is not a sustainable strategy, unless congregations increase significantly and stewardship is improved. There are lots of reasons why it is a good strategy on paper, but it needs to be sustainable. During my comparatively recent time on the Council of Wycliffe Hall, the college was having to meet a considerable shortfall in the cost of training sponsored ordinands, even when numbers were better. MinDiv would simply argue that the block grant system is fair and… Read more »

Peter Owen
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Referring back to the comment by Martin Reynolds two days ago, yes, St John’s Nottingham is to cease residential training. The college issued this statement back in November:

http://www.stjohns-nottm.ac.uk/assets/PDFs-FORMS-for-download/College/Announcement/News-from-St-Johns-College.pdf

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

In answer to Anthony Archer, the model has to change. If we want our training institutions to be of high quality we have to fund them to employ sufficient staff, with time to do the research and reading which informs good teaching. Salami slicing reduces quality, and also the size of the internal resource in the church for training. The staff who pass through theological colleges also generate wide networks of relationship and influence which can be hugely strategic – were principals and vice principals of theological colleges and courses on the Green radar? Where is the discourse about retaining… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

I well remember 44 years ago thumbing through the ACCM booklet giving details of the many Theological Colleges offering residential training. In those days we were spoilt for choice. It would seem that the modern day equivalent would present a very thin and getting ever thinner pamphlet to would be ordinands. Often the route to a pointy hat would be open to those who had proved themselves as Principals or Wardens of Theological Colleges, men with fine scholastic and academic credentials who brought a sense of gravitas to the Bench of Bishops. With the closure of so many Theological Colleges… Read more »

Alastair Newman
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How are more ordinands (50% more) going to be encouraged to come forward if it looks like less support will be available (even if that is not going to be the case in reality).

Getting 50% more ordinands is going to be a tough ask anyway, isn’t it?

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

Having a theological college principalship on your CV is still pretty useful, but one of the challenges of where the CofE currently finds itself is that few diocesan reps on the CNC want anyone other than someone who has demonstrable experience of leading churches into growth. The following diocesans or recent diocesans have led colleges or courses, but they also had much else in their locker besides: Truro (NTMTC); Oxford (Cranmer); Sheffield (Cranmer); St Eds & Ips (Westcott); and Coventry (Ridley). One of the things that exercised ++Rowan was that it has become harder to appoint scholar theologians to the… Read more »

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

Can’t the House of Bishops co-opt theologians when they need theological input and advice? Can’t each bishop have a sort of ” periti” to help if needed…? The number of academic theologians who would wish to leave academic life is probably small but I imagine they would be happy to share their expertise if asked. Are they asked much I wonder?

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

I was thinking of Principals as key leaders in the church in their own right, and leaders of substantial and complex organisations, holding budgets – all the things Green was looking at preparing people for.

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

There is pretty good machinery for advising the House of Bishops. They have theological consultants in many areas; there is the Faith and Order Advisory Group and the Doctrine Commission (currently in abeyance – strange that ++Rowan did not revive it). But it is not quite the same as having some of that scholarship actually in the midst. The theological colleges are hugely important and I agree we need them to be well led and with an informed and relevant take on what kind of leadership the Church needs. Of course they are not in and of themselves complex organisations,… Read more »

Tom Marshall
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Tom Marshall

We really should stop beating about the bush here and say that these proposals do nothing to instil confidence in the wider Church that we will have (a) more clergy of quality; (b) that there is any pro-active strategy to nurture ‘theological educators’ and others who will bring intellectual rigour generally, and theological rigour specifically, to both parish ministry and senior leadership (viz Green Report – again!) and (c) that there will be a fundamental questioning of the (now two-decade-old) policy of a disproportionate amount women candidates being trained on local schemes without access to a university theology faculty, where… Read more »