Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Resourcing Ministerial Education: another chapter


Readers may recall this report: Resourcing Ministerial Education - An update.

Today, Julian Hubbard, who is the Director of Ministry Division at the Archbishops’ Council, has published an article about the planned new programme of research in support of the programme for Resourcing Ministerial Education.

Read the article here: Developing strategic capacity for dioceses in ministerial education.

Read the more detailed paper submitted to the Ministry Council here: Developing Diocesan Strategic Capacity: Research Insight.

The covering note from Julian Hubbard concludes this way:

…The proposals are for long term research and are not about quick results. The RME work has made evident what many of us knew, that the church is changing rapidly and training needs are following suit. To capture this as well as doing justice to what we have inherited in terms of theological understanding of ministry takes time. We want to pursue the research collaboratively with dioceses and TEIs. An important part of the initial research was to ask for what research TEIs had already done and we want to continue that relationship in the next stages. This will be in conjunction with the theological conversation on expressing a theology of ministry which has begun between a group of bishops, theologians and theological educators which will come to fruition at the meeting of the College of Bishops in September 2015.

No doubt the commentary on the proposed research will raise again the question whether the current research findings are an adequate basis for proceeding with the proposals. I would suggest that those who ask that question actually look at what the proposals are: they do not favour any particular pathway on abstract or ideological grounds. They are appreciative of what each of the forms of training can offer and confident that they can all make a contribution. They allow the exercise of intelligent judgement about the needs of the individual candidate and the hopes and needs of the church in relation to them. The intelligence about such decisions will grow as the body of data and information develops through the research.

Staff at the Ministry Division look forward to supporting dioceses and TEIs in this process both through conducting the research and offering consultancy and advice about pathways and candidates. There is sufficient basis for moving forward to the next stage. The alternative of waiting ten or even five years so that we have a “final” view is not a reality: when would such a final view ever be achieved? And in the meantime, candidates are still subjected to a regime of regulations which are less and less applicable and might be wasting the valuable resource of their time, as well as money. And the urgency which is widely agreed as a necessary response to the situation of the Church of England is lost, along with opportunities for growth and innovation. Maybe a little more faith in God who will meet us on the way and guide us is called for?


The Church Times has a report by Madeleine Davies headlined Ministry Council officers say quality research is lacking which includes this:

…The Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, the Revd Dr Jeremy Morris, is among those who have expressed concern about the RME report (Letter, 27 March; News, 17 April). On Wednesday, he said that the admission of “several key limitations” was “very welcome indeed”. He said that the authors were “reluctant to acknowledge just how disabling the criticisms are for the overall strength of RME”.

He also questioned whether the new research proposed would solve the problems identified in the report: “The three core concepts they want to clarify are the nature of ministry, education, and the nature of contemporary society - vast and complex issues, indeed, which will not be decisively ‘clarified’ by the research they propose. . .

“What is necessary, first and foremost, is a vision of what theological education for the whole Church - for the whole people of God - ought to look like. The abiding impression that this document leaves, for all its good intentions, to my mind, is that we are not confident on theological vision as a Church, but much too trusting in the security and decisiveness of empirical research.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 at 6:45pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

The classic response of ecclesiastical leadership that has lost the trust of its followers.

"Your failure to support our proposals is evidence that you lack trust in God."


Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 at 9:08pm BST

"I find your lack of faith... disturbing."

Posted by: ExRevd on Thursday, 14 May 2015 at 6:55am BST

"Maybe a little more faith in God who will meet us on the way and guide us is called for?"

- Julian Hubbard -

This would seem to be the basic need for any changes to be made to training for the Ministry of the Church. Quick fixes can be disastrous; as can resistance to change. Perhaps a Day of Prayer - devoted to this most important resourcing for the equipping of the Church for mission. After all, we are now in the season leading up to Pentecost!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 14 May 2015 at 9:03am BST

This is a classic example of institutional desperation. But worse, it displays an appalling degree of spiritual arrogance (i.e. we're right and you're wrong). Is this supposed to be the fruit of Justin Welby's loudly proclaimed skills as a conciliator and reconciler?

The truth is that RME and its associated programme of Reform and Renewal is not capturing the imagination of the Church as a whole. The Archbishops are not bringing the Church with them (to say nothing of General Synod). Instead of listening to people who actually have some wisdom and experience to offer (not to say some learning), they are resorting to unleashing their mandarins to snap at the heels of those who have a critical and intelligent contribution to make to the process. This is hardly Anglican and more resonant of UKIP's internal leadership.

Posted by: James A on Friday, 15 May 2015 at 8:01am BST

Significantly, Julian Hubbard's (disappointingly predictable) response makes no mention at all of the concerns raised by the 17 signatories to the Church Times Letter, led by Dr Jeremy Morris. Similarly, Steve Croft chose to ignore their letter, too, in his earlier response. It is gratifying that Madeleine Davies's piece in today's Church Times has a response from Dr Morris to the admission that research resources are inadequate in the Ministry Division.

Until this ill-conceived programme is properly critiqued, is the subject of more rigorous research, and is opened up to the involvement of those who have, hitherto, been excluded from it, it will prove to be a monstrous waste of the Church's time, energy and money.

Posted by: Simon R on Friday, 15 May 2015 at 3:15pm BST

Julian Hubbard writes cardboard English. At the end he whines. Respect has to be earned.

Posted by: John on Friday, 15 May 2015 at 9:11pm BST

Let's not forget that it is a major step forward for the Church of England to work with researchers in this way to inform its strategic direction. There are lots of researchers in the church - many of them have been funded at some stage in their journey by Ministry Division - building a better and more intentional relationship with the wider research community in the church - including the many researchers in practical theology - would, in my view, be a good use of money. Inviting researchers to apply for funding for research in particular areas would cost relatively little in terms of the amounts at stake. Funding research in this way that takes a wider view of the questions or which has a critical edge would help to build confidence in the integrity of the process, and make sure that the direction is not unduly influenced by the first questions asked by a small central group, or their expected answers.

Also doing some serious survey work of the questions which have commended themselves to the research community would be of intrinsic interest. Building a living relationship - a critical dialogue - with researchers would bring huge benefits to the church, which is institutionally unaware of the resources which already exist.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Wednesday, 20 May 2015 at 7:12am BST
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