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.”