Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 6 March 2024

Anon ViaMedia.News The Unbearable Lightness of Being General Synod

David Goodhew The Living Church The Church of England After COVID: Quo Vadis?
also online at Psephizo

Marcus Walker The Critic Dumbing down the priesthood
“Unless the Church reinstates rigorous college-based training for clerics, it will wither away”

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William
William
1 month ago

Excellent article by Marcus Walker.

Shamus
Shamus
1 month ago

I think Marcus Walker is right. The result will be a thin church serving thin gruel. And in some cases probably poisonous gruel.

Tim Evans
Tim Evans
Reply to  Shamus
1 month ago

Yes, there is a worrying trend towards theology-light preparation for ordination in a mistaken focus on immediate relevance. But this applies equally to all TEIs, not just the part-time courses. Let’s not imagine that residential colleges automatically provide academic rigour and inculcate a lifelong love of learning nor that they help ordinands to development a deep life of prayer and meditation. My residential theology degree many years ago at a leading university was patchy, light or non-existent in many areas, and almost totally detached from ministry. There was no attempt to provide an overall and integrated introduction to theology as… Read more »

KEN Sneath
KEN Sneath
Reply to  Tim Evans
1 month ago

I left the Church of England many years ago after a long period of the thinnest gruel. The vicar in question had attended a full time theological college. So I agree with your thesis. But it seems to me that an awful lot is asked of the minister which is impossible for them to fulfil. Christianity deals with the deepest questions of life which interact with so many academic disciplines in which a minister inevitably has little knowledge. Why have so many sermons? Why not invite people who have deep knowledge of key subjects such as creation and evolution, consciousness… Read more »

William
William
Reply to  KEN Sneath
1 month ago

Christianity isn’t about knowing lots of things. It’s about knowing Jesus Christ. If you want an expert teaching you about the various subjects you list then just enrol in an adult education course. Or use the internet.

Chris
Chris
Reply to  Shamus
1 month ago

I wonder if there’s a link between the rise in anti-intellectualism in the church and the kind of evangelicalist worship promulgated by Holy Trinity Brompton. It at least wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen someone link evangelical traditions and anti-intellectualism.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Chris
1 month ago

Rightly or wrongly, there has always been a strong anti-intellectual link within the general charismatic movement, not just Holy Trinity Brompton. Fifty-sixty years ago, when it first began here, partly inspired by books such as ‘Nine O’ Clock in the Morning’, ‘As at the Beginning’ and ‘The Holy Spirit and You’, it was primarily experiential, and widely seen as a reaction to the very academic, intellectually based emphasis which was then dominating church thinking. And it was rather attractive – it was personal, lively and exciting. Thankfully my own influencers were people like Michael Harper and Tom Smail, who showed… Read more »

Nigel Peters
Nigel Peters
Reply to  Chris
1 month ago

Is that the same Holy Trinity Brompton that is encouraging all its home groups to attend a three term x 10 week Beginning Theology course taught by academic theologians, giving an introduction to biblical studies, doctrine and church history? Doesn’t feel particularly anti-intellectual to me.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
1 month ago

I will probably get shouted down but theological training for parish ministers is a complete waste of time and money. Anyone with sufficient brain to undertake the role could easily cope with the very limited amount of teaching done in most parishes, essentially if the bishops twice a week led a Zoom Bible study for the clerics in their see covering the week’s readings. The church needs to save money. Theological training is something which can be cut and replaced with a library of agreed texts to read.

The money would be better spent on more ministers.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

I’m sure same could be said of Medical Schools. Students could watch A&E Emergency on Channel 4 whilst trainee GPs could borrow books from their local library . This might result in a greater number of deaths amongst patients, but at least it would save money.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

I think you are under the disillusionment that minister is a theological role. It might have been a hundred years ago, maybe even fifty years ago, but these days it’s mostly pastoral with some liturgy.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Well, actually, although I completely disagree with Marcus Walker, I also disagree with anyone who attempts a simple description of what the ministerial role is. In fact, it varies enormously from church to church, and with the giftedness of the individual. It’s true that some churches prioritise liturgy, but others prioritise preaching and teaching (which inevitably involves theology and biblical scholarship). My own role for the past two decades+ at St. Margaret’s in Edmonton involved a lot of mentoring of people who wanted to grow in their discipleship, a lot of nurturing small groups, a lot of shaping a congregation… Read more »

Jim Pratt
Jim Pratt
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

I couldn’t agree more, Tim. To be an effective pastor one needs to have a solid theological foundation, else pastoral care can quickly be reduced to meaningless platitudes.

I have spent 21 years of ministry alongside clergy, some of whom (like myself) have an MDiv from a residential seminary, and some of whom trained in less conventional manners. There have been superb ministers from both backgrounds, and plenty of duds as well.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Fascinating — if this is the image of the CofE, no wonder the great decline! No wonder we have (what I consider, threadbare and anemic) accounts of scripture we find here. The minister with no knowledge of the history of Christian thought. Caring for people (pastoral) and doing liturgy. If ever there was a reason to stay away from the CofE, this is it. In a nutshell.

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Unless and until the Ordinal is seriously altered, ‘minister’ is definitively a theological role. Priests are to ‘proclaim the word of the Lord’, ‘teach and to admonish’, ‘call their hearers to repentance’, ‘unfold the Scriptures’, ‘declare the mighty acts of God’, and ‘prepare the dying for their death’ — among other things. If you think for one moment that these pastoral actions require no theological understanding, you are profoundly mistaken. There is no separation between the pastoral and the theological; one must know the truth one is applying to the lives of God’s people and be able to communicate clearly… Read more »

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

But equally Fr David if medical schools focused exclusively on intellectual study and doctors entered the operating theatre without any practical training then many patients would certainly die. I am not a priest but as a simple parishioner I have recently had to endure serious emotional abuse from all three priests in my parish. Not one of them seems to understand the need for kindness, generosity and compassion. The bishop has failed to do anything meaningful. If you read “The Unbearable Lightness of Being General Synod” on this website you will see a church in which abuse of power is endemic.… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by David Hawkins
Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

It can be tempting to take for granted people’s ability to teach themselves. There are many who have a natural capacity for deep learning but whose backgrounds, for whatever reason, have not nurtured in them the skills needed to research, read, and make internal connections with theological material. We further disadvantage the disadvantaged if we fail to equip them with the tools with which to learn.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

I kind of agree with Kate. I enjoyed my studies of church history, ecclesiology, hermeneutics, etc and what we choose to call theology, and ‘theological reflection’. However I found congregations more concerned about the poor, the oppressed and how ‘we’ (they?) treat people- thank God. ‘Training’ allowed time out and together to consider how mission and ministry might be effectively gone about, making use of our extensive and varied ‘life experiences’. Of course if we want our ministers ‘credentialed’ with the assistance of government funding for higher education level awards then we must meet with the ‘requirements’ of credit-bearing ‘assessment’,… Read more »

Aljbri
Aljbri
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Well…no shouting so far. I went to school in the then USSR in the 1960’s. Debate and enquiry was not encouraged. So I suppose your approach might deal with all those pesky people on other threads who seem to be ‘unorthodox’ in their understanding of the bible. And of course lots of people get their theology from hymns, where rhyme and tune make it memorable, if at times a little eccentric. That said, when I wasn’t in the USSR I was at a school which was founded by Unitarians, so there were lots of hymns we couldn’t sing. Amazing really… Read more »

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

I get your point, but the issue is how you cash out ‘sufficient brain’. A risk is that you then only end up ordaining graduates whom you can expect to be able to engage critically (or, as critically as undergrads ever do) with that library of texts. We risk the clergy being even more a collection of well-meaning middle class people, and not the people whom God has called and the Church has equipped. Plus, indeed, as Scriptural study teaches us, there’s that risk of interpretative mistakes in the readings of pre-modern (and some very modern) texts. You do need… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  FearandTremolo
1 month ago

I think we are in agreement. I would like to see bishops taking an ongoing interest in training of parish ministers. With online tools that’s certainly possible. It would need pulling bishops partially away from the managerial tasks which have occupied them but I think that would be healthy too.

Rather than a year of residential training at the start, spend the money on ongoing breaks of a few days every 6 months to support ongoing learning but also to give ministers regular time away from the parish and time with their peers.

Richard Barrett
Richard Barrett
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

What training, then, would these “more ministers” be given? Would the C of E simply hire affable young men and women who were willing to undertake the role? Who would be eligible/qualified to become a Zooming bishop? You have previously stated that all church roles should be paid the same (preferably nothing, if I recall correctly). Won’t we then end up with undereducated volunteers as clergy? Is that perhaps the goal?

Ian H
Ian H
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

“Theological training is something which can be cut and replaced with a library of agreed texts to read.”

Perhaps save more by just recruiting parrots? Not sure how they would help build Christian disciples or engage evangelistically but it would be cheap. As it would only be on a Sunday, apparently, maybe parrots could be rented not owned.

Barrie McKenzie
Barrie McKenzie
Reply to  Ian H
1 month ago

It sounds like the 18th century when idle clergymen couldn’t be bothered so just read a sermon out of a book. What a strange place to want to go back to.

Ian H
Ian H
Reply to  Barrie McKenzie
1 month ago

Indeed… And there are three authorised sermons in the middle of the BCP.

Tom Kitten
Tom Kitten
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Interesting to compare this suggestion with what has happened with the banks. The local branches used to have managers who were experienced staff with fairly considerable freedom to make responsible decisions. Then almost all decision making was centralized. The next step was to close the local branches. I have a horrible feeling that Kate’s suggestion isn’t a tongue-in-cheek provocation, but is in fact entirely in tune with the managerial ethos of the leaders of the CofE at present. Who needs clergy who can think for themselves and make responsible decisions? Who needs clergy who know their parishioners as an old-fashioned… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Tom Kitten
1 month ago

Actually I think it would be better to think of parish ministers as primarily pastoral roles rather than theological so I am not suggesting at all that they don’t get to know their parishioners. While we don’t need a theologian in every parish I agree that we do need someone who can minister to the parish.

Barrie McKenzie
Barrie McKenzie
Reply to  Tom Kitten
1 month ago

Oh for sure this is the CofE’s own Generalplan Ost: liquidate the clergy save for a tame rump of uneducated ministers who won’t possess the intellect or ability to question.

AJ Stewart
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

I see that we’re needing to change both institutions: Church and Seminary. If we’re going to make church affordable and make some real changes to do so, let’s do the same for the education portion of things. We are fast moving to a Death of Degrees in higher education even though we keep seeing degrees as required for jobs, as if they’re actual qualifications which is often really questionable. If we restructure the education portion of ordination so it’s less “accredited degree” and more about actually learning things, we might be looking at something like a MOOC – a massive… Read more »

Just sayin'
Just sayin'
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Not shouting, but seriously? I trained nearly 40 years ago and yes it was time consuming and demanding, biblical languages were mandatory as were many other subjects probably now considered ‘irrelevant.’ Guess what? I have had the theological tools to make sense of and survive in parishes that have to say the least been challenging. I can preach sermons that are relevant and contemporary as well as theologically coherent, even funny too, well at least the congregations seem to think so. Call me an old fart if you like Kate but please don’t patronise me or those like me who… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Just sayin'
1 month ago

The world has changed. The church certainly has – or needs to, depending on how one looks at things. Forty years ago the only way lay parishioners could learn is if they were taught by the parish minister. That’s no longer the case. The sermon could be a 15 minute video address from the bishop followed a some facilitated discussion. Bible study could be video courses prepared by the diocese. At the same time many ministers now are expected to offer services in multiple locations. Put another way, the liturgical component has grown. We all know that the administrative component… Read more »

Barrie McKenzie
Barrie McKenzie
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

I still can’t quite believe this dystopian vision Kate describes is meant seriously. She must be being facetious. Does she also realise that the trust levels between parish and diocese are at such an all-time low, and that the CofE is so hopelessly fragmented, that any attempt to centralise the teaching ministry is a complete impossibility.

Baptist Trainfan
Baptist Trainfan
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

You say that “The sermon could be a 15 minute video address from the bishop followed a some facilitated discussion”. Well, perhaps; but I don’t agree. To me, the sermon ought to be the result of the preacher praying and thinking over the Scripture or topic for the day (I come from a tradition that doesn’t necessary follow a Lectionary) and then deciding what God might want to say to us, today, here in our specific context. A generalised bishop’s teaching video, however well-intentioned and -formulated, can very rarely have that specific, even “prophetic”, aspect unless, perhaps, they are speaking… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Baptist Trainfan
1 month ago

This is illogical. No sermon can be specific to every member of the congregation. Indeed, ministers who preach in multiple churches already use the same sermon in all of them. A bishop is also just as capable of praying and seeking guidance as any parish minister.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

‘The sermon could be a 15 minute video address from the bishop followed a some facilitated discussion.’ Um – sorry, but the bishop doesn’t know the people in the parish. One thing I loved about parish ministry was that when I was preparing sermons I could think of individuals in my mind and ask ‘What will Gary’s question be? What will Debbie’s response to this be? How will Afam take this?’ Preaching for strangers is far less satisfying pastorally than preaching for people you know and love. ‘On the other hand, if we are honest that it isn’t particularly a… Read more »

Shamus
Shamus
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Totally agree. This is why it is wrong for people to go off to listen to a sermon from a candidate who may be appointed to your parish, and coming to a judgement like that. They won’t know the context of the preacher, who may speak quite differently according to what’s going on in that particular church. This has always seemed to me the weakness of the non-conformist tradition of the interview including so called “preaching with a view”.

Baptist Trainfan
Baptist Trainfan
Reply to  Shamus
1 month ago

Yes, although the candidate “preaches with a view” in the church they’re hoping to join rather than in their current church. This ought to be after they’ve been able to read the church profile, correspond with its leaders, and have made a visit and had an informal chat. By that time they should have some understanding of where the church is “at” and prepare accordingly. A common practice is to precede “preaching with a view” by “preaching with a squint” where only the leaders (or vacancy committee if there is one) know that this is a potential future minister. After… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

“one of the most frequent responses was ‘the quality of the preaching’.”

But if you believe that the standard of preaching is that important then what do you plan to do about the (many) churches where the preaching is poor? Surely getting the bishop to preach via video raises the standard across many parishes?

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

That assumes the bishop is a good preacher.

Many are. But many are not.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

While my experience is in the US church, I have seen no indication that having the title “bishop” automatically raises the level of preaching

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Good point. One thing people don’t realize is that, because Bishops travel and are at a different parish each Sunday, often doing confirmations, they can get into a preaching rut. Just the same sermon recycled. Not all bishops, but a good many will admit to this. Some even become enamored of their special role, and think that carries its own quasi-sacramental weight. I say “quasi” because often there is genuine confusion about what the office is, that Bishops are meant to inhabit. And, consequently, they do not think that preaching is something they ought to try to excel at.

Last edited 1 month ago by Anglican Priest
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

What makes you think the bishop is a better preacher? Seriously?

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Having heard some of our bishops preach, I’m not convinced this is the case. (Assuming, of course, that they, and not their chaplains, write their sermons.)

Last edited 1 month ago by Evan McWilliams
T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Why involve the bishop or the diocese? If not local, why not national?

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

The theology needed to preach a good sermon is quite basic. Guides and commentaries are easily available. You don’t need much theology training to be a good vicar. What’s needed is “spiritual formation”. Everyone will have their own definition, but I’d say a desire to see churches grow and a love for the institution of the Church of England are essential. Church based clergy need to be able to inspire volunteers. It’s much harder than learning theology, but much more important.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

And if we take theology out of the entry role it opens it up to people who aren’t academic. Attracting a wider pool of potential candidates is a good thing in a number of ways.

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

I’d be interested to know what you think ‘theology’ is. As I understand it, theology is simply ‘words about God’ which for Christians are grounded in the Old and New Testaments. One needn’t be an ‘academic theologian’ in order to do theology but anyone who isn’t prepared to deal with the difficult questions parishioners bring us probably isn’t ready for ministry. When someone comes and asks ‘Why did God let my baby die?’ I need to be prepared with more than just a cup of tea and some platitudes. I need to be able to speak convincingly about the character… Read more »

Max
Max
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

I think that’s lovely Evan. I’m a vicar who was not trained to do that. I’d love to have your depth of toolkit … but I don’t. So all I can do is hold the hand and share the pain. That’s what 8 hours of pastoral theology training gets you. You’re right, that’s pathetic and I probably shouldn’t be here. However….knowing your colleagues are undertrained and in need of help….what might you do to help them? They are, after all, going to inherit your parish.

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Max
1 month ago

I don’t mean to demean the real need for companionship and compassion during times of difficulty. Sometimes that’s all people need to get through it. Now, I wish I could credit my residential training for whatever ability I possess but the reality is that I learned most of my pastoral theology from 20+ years of long sermons in a non-conformist evangelical church. Nothing can prepare a priest more effectively than a deep knowledge of the Bible. There’s no more profound work of theology and no better insight into the psychology of humanity than the scriptures. The one thing Church of… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Max
1 month ago

Can’t it be both/and rather than either/or? Words too soon, words without tears, can be noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. Sometimes we need to help people sit with grief.

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 month ago

That it ought to be both/and is precisely the point I was making. People are unities of mind, emotion, and will and these need ministering to together.

Last edited 1 month ago by Evan McWilliams
Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

Knowledge of the Bible and Theology is nothing if not the ultimate fount of humanity, kindness, being given resources to speak to the bereaved with heart and mind. The Bible isn’t a cookbook or textbook. It is a book about the human heart and God’s heart. Thank you for your ministry, especially during this Lenten season, when scripture shows us the ultimate pastoral episode: ‘Today, you will be with me in Paradise.’

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

A large part of a parish priest’s work is administrative. Knowing how to read a balance sheet and profit and loss account helps as parish finances become tighter. A basic knowledge of HR assists with the employment of parish administrators and organists. Clergy at incumbent level are managing complex operations.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 month ago

And that’s sensible training to offer. As is safeguarding.

angusian
angusian
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Oh Kate, apologies for the expected riposte!
where are you coming from? Never have I read such an ill-inform comment on this platform! If the church took the training of its clergy seriously, it would have a cohort of clergy equipped to face the sloppy anti intellectualism propounded by cash strapped managers, proponents of contextual and experiental training !

Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago

Others have remarked on the staggering inadequacy of the most recent Synod’s response to the safeguarding crisis: the debate has been in train for well over a decade and yet the authorities are still equivocating and ‘talking about talking’. Many of these people have the effrontery to provide moral guidance to others. As to Dr Goodhew’s article, there were those of us in 2020 that the authorities’ response to the pandemic was staggeringly maladroit, indeed stupid. By platinum-plating government advice, they inflicted incalculable, and seemingly permanent, harm to the Church. It would have been possible (as some noted) to keep… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

I would have hoped that Dr Goodhew would have recognised the need to support contentions with evidence, eg linking cause beyond correlation. Church attendance may have declined ‘coincidentally with’ rather than ‘because of’. He may be right. ‘Research’ (not of the Daily Mail kind!) may show that the evident concern of the church to protect what’s left of its ethical ‘reputation’ in favour of delay to action on Safeguarding recommended by someone who knows and a generous payout to Victims/ Survivors.
I’m picturing Jesus in the Temple Court. Quo vadis? Nobody’s Friends? Status Quad.

Ken Eames
Ken Eames
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

For anyone who is interested, the latest Church of England parish Finance Statistics report (containing figures up to and including 2022) was published recently, and can be found here: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2024-02/parish-finance-statistics-2022.pdf. Reluctant though I am to disagree with Froghole, the figures in the report show that regular giving fell slightly in 2020, but did not collapse. Income from collections fell rather more, but the bigger falls were in fundraising, fees, and trading income (none of which is surprising). All have recovered to a greater or lesser extent. As far as online worship in concerned, over a third of Church of England… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Ken Eames
1 month ago

Many thanks, as always, Dr Eames! I recall that the funding made available in April 2020 was on an emergency basis: https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/3-april/news/uk/cash-package-announced-to-help-dioceses. If memory serves, the belief at the time was that weekly giving (absent that on direct debit) had fallen drastically; many DBFs were already operating on narrow margins, and so shortfalls risked causing cashflow crises and potential insolvency (insofar as this might have been a failure to pay all debts owed – to clergy and others – as they fell due). So even if the hit was c. £40m over the year, and soon stabilised, I would query… Read more »

Michael H
Michael H
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

I agree with all of that Froghole. My anti church closure comments on Thinking Anglicans received much negative response. I left CofE three years ago, Easter 2021, because locally some clergy still refused to share communion. No-one has missed me or asked me to return.

Peter
Peter
1 month ago

Any commentary on the recent Synod has to recognise the crystal clear evidence that it is set in concrete for the foreseeable future. The facts speak for themselves. Any major vote will always be called by Houses and – in the case if the progressive agenda – will need a 67% vote in favour. 47% of the clergy confirmed they believe they cannot “agree to disagree”. That is 83 clergy To get that to just 32% – still a knife edge position for the progressives – you need 27 clergy to switch sides. That is one third of the current… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

On which topic did 47% of the House of Clergy say they cannot agree to disagree? Was it safeguarding (the subject of Helen King’s excellent blog?). When and where was the survey taken?

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

Item 66

It was not a survey. It was a vote

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

What was Item 66 about?

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Ah, so it was on LLF that 47% of the House of Clergy could not agree to disagree.

I don’t think any such vote or result was recorded re safeguarding?

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

that is correct

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

Actually Marcus Walker is not entirely right. He is polarising the debate. He is divisively using limiting factors as a rhetorical tool to saying lets all go back to residential training. It has to be a both/and. He fails to deliver anything about why we have got to this travesty of church attendance and presence in the first place. Maybe that halcyon vision of residential training didn’t work? He is right that we have gone in the opposite direction – but there has to be some via media in all this. Is not a balanced economy, rather than a mixed… Read more »

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

Furthermore. We have to address the ministry division of the CofE. The simple reality is that we are selecting, recruiting and failing to continually train ministers for the ever changing context we find ourselves in as a church. We need to be more agile!

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
1 month ago

Whilst I think Fr. Marcus is perhaps a little more of a structural traditionalist than I am (I’m much more inclined to regard the parish system as a matter of utility that can fail and then should be replaced than I think he is) this lack of ‘hard’ theology makes reaching Gen Z a bit of a nightmare. Like, we’ve all grown up with Richard Dawkins and this general sense that God commands some stuff in the Old Testament that comes off badly. Now, this is all on the level of abstract vibe more than deep understanding of Scripture, but… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
1 month ago

Regarding the ‘unbearable lightness’ … IIUC this refers to a kind of ‘infinite repetition’. Repetition … somewhat akin to ‘reputation’? I fear, and not without evidence, that GS, despite its newness of membership, and Bishops with their inate conservatism of practice (‘Tradition’ and ‘Theological’ and ‘legal’ advice’) are hidebound and ‘stuck in their ways’. Is it necessary to want to change- to repent- in order to be able to change- I think so. I’m thinking of a heart of stone, while hoping for a heart of compassion and healing. Recent history in the CofE may not be encouraging, but I… Read more »

David G
David G
1 month ago

This is an instructive article that provides deeper background to Fr. Marcus’ article: https://meander.network/posts/theological-education-and-or-training-which-is-it/ I suspect the leadership of the CofE just want more trainees. If Christianity can be taught and run from a manual, and the world fixed by using the bible like a manual, then trainees are the way forward. Personally, I don’t want that kind of training and teaching from the pulpit, and I don’t want clergy to be taught like that. Theology and orthodoxy takes a long, long time to come to, appreciate and understand. Wisdom and education are not the same craft as training. Welby… Read more »

Shamus
Shamus
Reply to  David G
1 month ago

Agreed. The parochial clergy’s work can be very wide ranging, and all sorts of disciplines are arguably relevant. Personally with my training about 40 years ago, I recall a term which included psychology very helpful when I got into parish work.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

While I agree absolutely with Fr Marcus’ comments about the shocking dumbing down of the clergy – to the extent that those of us who aspire to not being dumbed down now feel very out of place in the Church – theological colleges (and the whole idea of professional clergy, or indeed other professionals, doing a “job”) are rather recent, in traditionalist terms, aren’t they, merely a creation of the late 19th century? Prior to that, clergy seemed to manage to be priests, gentlemen and scholars perfectly well without spending time living in seminaries.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mark
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Mark
1 month ago

Indeed, and some have been making this point here for a while. Seminaries in England are a comparatively late growth, as you note: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/nineteenth-century-anglican-theological-training-9780198269298?cc=gb&lang=en&#. Prior to their formation in the mid-19th century, university examinations were essentially the Schools at Oxford (lit. hum., with Greats becoming philosophy and ancient history) and the Senate House examinations at Cambridge (mathematics and ‘natural philosophy’, which emerged under the long shadow of Newton: https://books.google.ba/books?id=0QmwqzdMsRkC&printsec=copyright#v=onepage&q&f=false, whose Arianism and Socinianism was something of a secret). Oxford’s examinations had no theological content following their reformation under Cyril Jackson, until the creation of the theological course in 1869 (the… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

My own experience in Salisbury Diocese is that those of us who are Readers or Licensed Lay Ministers tend to be retired, and so we have all the necessary time to prepare sermons, and to engage in continuous professional development ,and keep up with current trends. Our incumbents, however, are so busy with diocesan inspired finance and safeguarding bureaucracy that they have little time left over for extensive theological work. The issue is not simply that of initial education. Providing a pattern of work which enables priests to give sufficient priority to theological matters, and to continue their education throughout… Read more »

Baptist Trainfan
Baptist Trainfan
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

I’m a Baptist; and of course we have academic training institutions too – although the cost of study is not borne by the denomination but by individual students. Sometimes, but not always, they are paid for by their “home” churches. One of our colleges, now with degree-awarding status, is Spurgeon’s in London. It’s interesting to note that it was started off as an informal mentoring scheme by Spurgeon himself, in his own house. Things became more formalised but the essential criteria for entry were an evangelistic zeal and spiritual enthusiasm rather than academic credentials – indeed the latter would have… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

All seminaries and divinity schools are struggling. I have taught in four, in 3 different countries, over 45 years. It is true that this kind of model is, as Froghole notes, of fairly recent vintage. I was part of an effort to run a US satellite in Dallas, for Wycliffe Toronto. (We ran into NAFTA issues). A good model in that vein is probably an agreed upon, comprehensive, reading list, of material that must be mastered and then tested on (written and oral exams). Alongside this, students need to be ‘formed’ in daily Morning Prayer in a parish placement, with… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Anglican Priest
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

Thank you so much, as always! Thank you also to Mr Dawson and Baptist Trainfan. “the long history of biblical and theological reflection is critical”. I think that statement needs to be decked out in Christmas tree lights. We need to understand – far better than many of us (myself included) seem to do so now – how we have got to where we are today. In terms of reading lists, I have tickets to a number of libraries, but have special reliance upon the online London Library (the subscription library in St James’s Square), which is invaluable since most… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Thank you for mentioning the name “Deryck Lovegrove” below. He was a colleague at St Andrews and a delightful man. Gentleman, old school.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

His book on the period 1790-1830 is in a sense repeating itself with the growth Goodhew emphasises ..new churches, mushrooming in the last 3O odd years.partly filling the gap of rapidly declining parish religion. *We have an Established Church and a sectarian people” was the strap line I seem to remember.

Barrie McKenzie
Barrie McKenzie
Reply to  Mark
1 month ago

And they read sermons out of books because they were idle and ill-trained. I’m sorry, but to say they managed “perfectly well” when we know seminaries were founded precisely to counter the drift and decline of the Georgian Church demonstrates profound ignorance.

John Darch
John Darch
Reply to  Barrie McKenzie
1 month ago

I’m surprised to see that hoary old chestnut, the ‘decline’ of the Georgian Church’, being exhumed and presented as a fact! Since the pioneering work of Norman Sykes way back in the 1950s thoroughly disproved it, it has been discounted by serious church historians. It originated as propaganda peddled by both Evangelicals and Ango-Catholics in order to provide justification for their own radical agendas. It was no more than a partisan trope. Seminaries were initially founded because Oxbridge was not producing sufficient clergy to fill the growing number of parishes, degree course were not sufficiently pastoral and many able men from… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  John Darch
1 month ago

Indeed, Dr Darch, although Sykes was really looking at the episcopate. Peter Virgin looked at the lower clergy in 1988 using statistical evidence which Sykes did not utilise in his work (though Joseph Bergin and Nigel Aston did so in their studies of the French episcopate in the 17th and 18th centuries). Unfortunately, although Virgin was able to debunk Wade’s ‘Extraordinary Black Book’ and other works of agitprop, he did show that pluralism was not as commonly a function of clerical poverty as had once been supposed, and that it was as often attributable to nepotism or a desire for… Read more »

William
William
Reply to  Mark
1 month ago

‘Prior to that, clergy seemed to manage to be priests, gentlemen and scholars perfectly well without spending time living in seminaries’.

But they spent time at an Oxford or Cambridge College tutored by unmarried (celibate) dons. Think of Newman at Trinity and Oriel. It must have been a seminary experience in its own right.

Last edited 1 month ago by William
Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  William
1 month ago

That might be a romantic view.

For one person’s experience of being ordained as a Cambridge fellow in the mid 19th century, this is from Edward Carpenter’s memoir “My Days and Dreams”.

https://www.edwardcarpenter.net/ecdd3.htm

The relevant passage is about one third the way down, below the poem.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Quite, and I think that Mark Pattison’s often bleak experiences at Lincoln College under Radford and Thompson at the height of the Oxford Movement were also typical, for example: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=myfqsjjTUCEC&printsec=copyright&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false, even allowing for his weakness for painful introspection (also https://www.cambridge.org/gb/universitypress/subjects/history/british-history-after-1450/intellect-and-character-victorian-england-mark-pattison-and-invention-don?format=HB&isbn=9780521876056). Oriel under the Noetics was something of an outlier.

William
William
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

I don’t think it is a ‘romantic view’. I’m just stating a fact. Whether the training was good, bad or indifferent, it was at least residential.

Charles Read
Charles Read
1 month ago

While Marcus Walker does make some salient points and asks some pertinent questions about theological education, like many who comment on this he operates with a mixture of caricature, half-truth, nostalgia and ignorance. For example: there has never been a common curriculum for theological colleges and courses so asking that we return to one is to pine for a golden age that never was Durham university is actually very good at ensuring parity of academic standards across TEIs There are good and less good residential colleges and good and less good courses. One mode is not intrinsically better than another.… Read more »

Shamus
Shamus
Reply to  Charles Read
1 month ago

I would just observe you can be a good preacher and a good theologian, but it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be a good parochial Vicar.

Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  Shamus
1 month ago

This is very true!

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Charles Read
1 month ago

Thanks Charles. Some informed sense at last. Many of those currently training on courses would never have been able to consider training at all if it was only offered in residential colleges.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  David Runcorn
1 month ago

And indeed, some now training in residential colleges would not have been able to train on courses – the idea that colleges are for an elite, or for avowed intellectuals only, has ceased to be a reality certainly in this generation, and some candidates with fewer resources find college possible where a course would be impossible. That is why the question of maintenance of ordinands while at college is important. So many of these issues are not quite as they are imagined.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
1 month ago

Like the whole Save the Parish movement, Marcus Walker’s article is another call to turn back the clock. The church is already withering away. Church attendance has been in decline for a long time and until fairly recently, most stipendiary clergy trained on full time residential courses. There is no evidence that college based trained clergy are better at growing churches. The C of E will need a lot fewer priests going forward and realistically most will need to be non-stipendiary. It is inappropriate to take people away from secular employment for 2 or 3 years residential training and a… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
1 month ago

In the early 90’s as a result of ideas from Prof Dan Hardy of Durham “training” was to be replaced by “formation” whereby there would be an attempt to integrate the academic, pastoral and spiritual aspects of ministry in a more integrated way. Which by the way is the roman catholic church talks about its seminary training. However Dan said that this would require the C of E to have a clearer understanding of what it was the Church was forming its ministers for, a more shared understanding of the nature of priesthood/ministry. That of course given our divisions would… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Perry Butler
1 month ago

Thank you for this, Perry. Professor Dan Hardy’s wish to see “training” replaced by “formation” evokes a chat over chai I had with my lovely Punjabi neighbour on his childhood in Lahore, “Lahore, Lahore hai, we say: Lahore is Lahore. The city forms you; forms, not instructs. The two are not the same, Allan.”  As you indicate, and with our divisions wider than in the Prof’s day, coming to a shared understanding of ministerial priesthood might be beyond us. We would need to start with ecclesiology, and in a cold climate we’ll struggle to agree even on that.  Meanwhile it… Read more »

Nigel Peters
Nigel Peters
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 month ago

“Meanwhile it seems we’re content to outsource priestly formation to HTB” – this statement is just not true nor the reality, HTB is so far from determining the curriculum of St Mellitus. That statement is a cliche not based on fact, just conjecture. St Mellitus does things the way it chooses to do.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Nigel Peters
1 month ago

Apologies for my choice of words, Nigel – and if you’re at a St Mellitus, all blessings on your ministry. That we have a mixed economy in ministerial training and formation is both necessary and welcome. My concern comes from seeing relatively recently ordained priests from various TEIs who are plainly ill at ease at the altar and who fail to inhabit the liturgy. Such presbyteral anxiety soon leaches tension into the average Anglican congregation.

Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  Perry Butler
1 month ago

That is largely correct and I share your concerns, though even in GOE days college syllabuses and curricula varied considerably – hence no common curriculum ever. I think Common Awards works well – Durham is not overbearing while monitoring quality well, has a can do attitude and puts resources into training college and course staff. There are issues that no-one is addressing such as: Why do some TEIs (mainly residential colleges) teach no liturgy or preaching? Candidates sent by a bishop for 1 year are getting a raw deal – and we in the colleges etc cannot possibly evaluate them… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

This could raise for Anglicans in general certain pertinent and intelligent questions Do the Anglican Episcopate really believe in the Ministerial Priesthood or do they believe in just “Presbyteral Ministers” and would prefer to speak of ordained Ministers not as Priests but as Presbyters, so they can consistently speak of a Priesthood of all believers? This question was raised for me this week when I read on line an account of the Newly installed Bishop of Peterborough, in an interview with a Local Paper in her area speaking of “Parish Vicars” and not Parish Priests, and it lead me to… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

On the other hand “parish vicar” might communicate more, and more tellingly, to a wider audience – the readers of a local paper. They will be unversed in such subtleties, and the conversation begins where they are, not where I would like them to be. I am a priest – that is an order of ministry, but I am also team rector – that is a role I occupy, and an office I hold. I get asked what is your job? = team rector. Are you a vicar? which requires some unpacking because I am not technically a vicar but… Read more »

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Mark Bennet
1 month ago

As an aside, it’s worth noting that the Latin BCP of 1662 uses the word ‘sacerdos’ rather than presbyter in the Holy Communion. The Ordinal, though it refers to presbyters, has the Bishop praying as follows at the laying on of hands: ‘Accipe Spiritum Sanctum in officium et opus Sacerdotis in Ecclesia Dei…’ A most interesting conflation of terms which had, a century earlier, been seen as incompatible. I’m very curious to know how this would have been understood by those those from the two Universities who were to be ordained, as it is the Latin and not the English… Read more »

Vivienne
Vivienne
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

New Presbyter is but Old Priest writ large. John Milton 1608-1674

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

I suppose this was one of the ambiguities of the Elizabethan Settlement as was the joining together of the 1559 and 1552 words of administration. Elizabeth wanted her settlement to be as inclusive as possible. Other examples of that ambiguity can be found in Chapter 1 of Anthony Milton’s fairly recent book, England’s Second Reformation “An Unresolved Reformation” ( I suppose it is even less resolved now 500 yrs later.) Henry Chadwick wrote a paper on Ministerial Priesthood for the Canterbury Convocation. I don’t think alas it was ever debated either in Convocation or Synod. it was however by FOAG… Read more »

Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

How much is the present trend to reduced theological training influenced by Predominantly by Evangelicalism? There is a long history of evangelical scholarship so equating evangelicalism with ignorance is unhelpful. Does not the Catholic or even the Central Traditions of Anglicanism get a look in here? Would Ordinands be exposed to the Rich and Wide Traditions of historical Christian Spirituality that has helped to nurture the Christian Faith in this Land At my evangelical theological college we were introduced to the history of Christian spirituality, encouraged to have a spiritual director, read Julian of Norwich (and Thomas Merton and many… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Charles Read
1 month ago

Good question, Charles. Following a 2013 inspection the SWMTC (my old course, for which I’m grateful) was criticised not only for an “unbalanced churchmanship ethos” that veered to “the low side” (who writes this stuff!), but also for neglecting “the Anglican theological tradition” which “needs to be more pronounced.” I understand at the time most of the ordinands were Evangelicals, but the Principal was a noted scholar in the Catholic tradition. Hasten the parousia and St John’s?

Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 month ago

Inspectors could be cloth-eared sometimes! (The new system seems to me to be better.) If your student body is predominantly evangelical or catholic, of course the community will lean that way! I can point to a few colleges / courses still operating which seem to neglect the Anglican theological tradition.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 month ago

Canon Ronald Coppin retired to my parish in London and did a number of inspections of courses. He was concerned how well they prepared ordinands to answer the question at ordination about believing and teaching the Christian faith AS THE CofE HAS RECEIVED IT. criticising one course heavily on this score. Most of our ordinands these days ( certainly the younger ones) seem to be recent arrivals to the C of E and as a DDO i was often surprised how little they actually knew about the church they were seeking ordination in, I liked to think this would be… Read more »

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Perry Butler
1 month ago

My experience of residential training at an evangelical theological college confirms this situation. A majority of ordinands were either from non-Anglican backgrounds or came from churches that were Church of England in name only. Some had to be confirmed before they could be ordained and at least two did not believe in the baptism of infants (their own children included). As I experienced Common Awards, the emphasis was on describing a variety of viewpoints on what might be termed a ‘spectrum of validity’ rather than any kind of teaching that suggested there might be a more or less properly Anglican… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
1 month ago

I fear this may be true though I wish it wasn’t. As a DDO confronted by a potential ordinand who didn’t want to baptise babies I held him back, sent him to a learned Evangelical vicar and then sent him to the bishop to make a budget which I believe required a written undertaking that he would accept the C of E in this matter I would hope DDOs are doing their job in facilitating an adequate degree of *anglicanisation” before they even got to a selection conference. On the wider point: I noticed we now tend to talk of… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
1 month ago

Does anybody else remember the late Gerald Coates’ “Modest Suggestions” for revitalising the church? One was the immediate closure of all theological colleges, seminaries and other formal training institutions.

This sounds like his idea might have caught on at last.

Robin Ward
Robin Ward
1 month ago

A national Church of England virtual library is a crucial investment to be made, as Zoom de-schools Society.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Robin Ward
1 month ago

That’s an excellent idea.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

This has been touched upon in previous threads several years ago, and above on this thread. What might make it a more plausible idea now is that many academic publishers have since started to market much of their output predominantly on an online basis. A notable example of this is E. J. Brill of Leiden, whose publications have long been notoriously expensive. For instance, an invaluable work of reference is ‘Religion Past and Present’ (the old ‘Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart’), which was published over a decade ago. Brill no longer dares to advertise the price of the physical copy,… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Though, of course, it is moot as to what copyright rights Migne’s house (and its successors in title) ever possessed, given the nature of the materials in question and the relative (often total) lack of emendation…

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

It’s something the Lambeth Palace library could lead, not least because they know what publications are relevant already. It would need some admin for login credentials and negotiation of deals for wider access. As you say it needn’t be particularly expensive and it’s hard to see how, even in the Church of England, it could be controversial.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

There are some resources already online of course – for example, the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, which I stumbled on a few years back – might be better known. It is far from comprehensive but has some fascinating things in there. https://ccel.org/

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Mark Bennet
1 month ago

Thank you very much for that! I see that it includes the ANF and NPNF (T. & T. Clark), which are much more user-friendly, though far less extensive, than Migne. Henry Wace was the main Anglican participant in that project, and it is excellent to see that the site also contains his ‘Dictionary of Christian Biography’ (1911) which he produced with the indefatigable Sir William Smith (whose other dictionaries, including of the Bible and Christian Antiquities, are also mines of information – the site has the former though not, it seems, the latter).

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Sorry – I should add that Wace was the main co-ordinator, especially after Smith’s death. However, the first edition of the Dictionary of Christian Biography came out between 1877 and 1887, whilst Smith was still very much alive.

Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  Robin Ward
1 month ago

It already exists and is available to all Common Awards students

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

Having re-read Fr Walkers article.. I want to add. Who exactly is dumbing down? There is an argument to say that the old way of doing things became dumb – incapable or unwilling to adapt to the challenges of a rapidly changing culture and context. That surely is dumbing down – whereas raising up is something different, diverse and much more inclusive than the Save the Parish model of training.

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
1 month ago

I am in training for the priesthood, on a two year full-time course. My course is delivered primarily online, with regular weekend residential teaching sessions throughout the course. This allows people across a broad geographical area to participate. Weekly tutorials take place via Zoom. All of the materials we need are accessible online, including ebooks and scans. The college library is very proactive in enabling students to access a range of media. I have a family, with a spouse who has a career, and a child at school. There was no way I was going to disrupt their lives for… Read more »

Shamus
Shamus
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
1 month ago

I think the description of your training is very encouraging. Thank you and all the best for the future.

Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
1 month ago

Great to hear this, Alwyn and every blessing for your studies and formation. You put it very clearly. This sounds a lot like the TEI where I teach (ERMC) – although we do teach Greek and Hebrew as options.

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
Reply to  Charles Read
1 month ago

Thank you Shamus and Charles for your kind words and best wishes.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
1 month ago

Thanks for sharing, Alwyn. Blessings on your studies and your ministry (which no doubt has already begun!).

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Many thanks Tim.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
1 month ago

Does post ordination training still happen? Or did it fall victim to a combination of covid, budget cuts and time constraints on deacons and priests undertaking their only curacy?
Perhaps it could have a practical focus on the skills needed for incumbency i.e. how to run a parish.

Tim Evans
Tim Evans
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 month ago

Post ordination training is very much alive and well, but is now called Initial Ministerial Education 2. The programme I ran mixed the very practical – finance, legalities, Canons, etc – with some history, pastoral skills and theological reflection in small groups. Far from perfect because of the limited time available but a lot better than when I was a curate. The gaps in knowledge and experience we were trying to address varied massively depending on which college/course people had attended so one observation is that Common Awards hides a huge variety of programmes and it’s virtually impossible to ensure… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 month ago

In my opinion, leaving aside the topic at hand, the most grievous lack in the priestly vocation is the absence of good continuing education. I have tried my hand at this in various capacities, but it really ought to be built into the system. Given the state of affairs, that seems unlikely. In my view, it can focus on new developments in biblical studies, theology, the profusion of on-line resources, and so forth. Sometimes when I see the discussion even here at the august Thinking Anglicans site, I feel like we are just getting the latest trend one encountered decades… Read more »

Rob Hall
Rob Hall
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

‘It really ought to be built into the system’. Yes! Good continuing education may well be out there but it isn’t assumed that clergy will or should take it up. This is a bit of a mea culpa: as a parish priest I have too often felt too busy or preoccupied to prioritise this for myself. But this year, in preparation for Year B, I have actively pursued Marcan study and both that study and reading Mark with parishioners have reignited not just my interest in Mark but in vocation, helping me see Gospel and Kingdom with refreshed sight. Much… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Rob Hall
1 month ago

I hear you! I agree. Full-steam ahead. (We had to build continuing education in at the diocesan level when I was in Dallas; I agree that someone needs to be the point person in this domain).

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

Perhaps the church (both in the UK and the US) could take a page from the educational community. Most public school teachers in the US are required to take refresher courses during their employment; some are even required to take graduate degree courses in order to maintain their tenure. In addition, some school districts schedule what are often referred to as “in-service” days, where teachers and administrators attend lectures and seminars (usually right in the building where they normally teach) on appropriate topics. (The teachers are paid for those days.) I fail to see why a diocese could not organize… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
1 month ago

Any comment on David Goodhew’s good news? Orthodox churches are growing because there are a lot more Romanians, Ukranians, Copts etc in tthe UK. Black Churches thrive because they appeal to many black people who have not felt able to join the more historic denominations though it is interesting in the RC Church how with the declining participation of the Irish churches in metropolitan areas are filling with africans ,asians and latin americans. What interests me is the fellowships and churches that have grown up in the last few decades catering for a largely white and young demographic. These tend… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Perry Butler
1 month ago

Any figures about growing churches need to be set in the context of belief overall. Christians in England and Wales fell from 72% to 46% of the population between 2001 and 2021. Those with on religion rose from 16% to 37%.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 month ago

Alas so. These newer churches may be growing but from a smallish base and I suspect they have a “ceiling “. I think they are unlikely to attract more than a small percentage of the population. I can’t see this development heralding much of a widescale revival. Christianity is shifting to the southern hemisphere.

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