priest presbyter

© Bosco Peters

At the Inter Diocesan Conference (IDC), the Tikanga Pakeha, pre-General Synod meeting, the Tikanga Pakeha strategic plan for theological education(PDF) was received.

It is hard to believe that this document was presented (and received) without embarrassment. One vicar said to me, on seeing this document, that there is more in his parish’s documentation about training in his parish than this paper provides for the province!

As this document explicitly states, this sets the “priorities [which] are used to guide all Tikanga Pakeha funding applications”. We are talking millions and millions and millions of dollars! Beyond the financial dimension, I see the future health, or otherwise, of the church in this document.

The document starts by saying that this strategic plan is the result of being “developed over several years” by the Tikanga Pakeha Ministry Council.

The Anglican Church has serious issues; not least IMO because it is succumbing to the cultural worldview that church is but one activity equal to, say, model railways, to which one can devote one’s discretionary leisure time. We are a hobby. And the rapid hobbyisation and amateurisation of church is reflected in, and now driven by, the abandonment of disciplined training of our leadership.

The issue is exacerbated by our church’s systemic decision not to gather statistics. We have no idea, as a province, of the level of training, study, and formation of our clergy. Even as dioceses, which diocese would be able to provide such information for the diocese? More general information is also inaccessible. Even senior clergy generally have no real idea what is happening at St John’s College (supposedly our provincial seminary, with a trust fund in excess of $320 million – is there another Anglican theological college anywhere in the world so well endowed?!), or who is training where from their own diocese.

The strategic plan, while mentioning St John’s College, does not even make an allusion to the reality of the scathing Sir Paul Reeves/Kathryn Beck Commission Report on St John’s College and the two-year suspension of the canon on St John’s College, a canon which has just been suspended for a further two years.

Ordination with minimal training, formation, and study is rampant. A diocesan ordination with around 30 being ordained is not unknown. It may be difficult for readers from beyond these shores to appreciate that Anglicans in New Zealand have no agreed standards for ordination. If any diocese has a written standard – let’s have a link to a copy in the comments below.

Have a look at the strategic plan, after which I will make some further comments:

TPMC Mission and Ministry Priorities 2012

  • The response may be that this meagre strategic plan is for the whole church not just clergy formation, but I don’t think that starting with the Anglican 5-fold mission statement is appropriate. The last thing I want to see is the return to the situation where the priest was the minister. Clergy may be important to enable the mission and ministry of the church; they are not there to do it all.
  • I have, several times, criticised the inadequacy of the 5-fold mission statement. Worship is not an optional extra to the mission of the church – it is central. The omission of worship from the mission statement translates into defective strategic planning for church leadership formation. Liturgical leadership (training, formation, study) should be an essential dimension of church leadership training.
  • The lack of liturgical leadership formation, study, and training is reckless. Recent discussions have underscored that those responsibly seeking ordination cannot access a single liturgics paper for a degree. This is incredible.
  • It is, for me, beyond comprehension that in this document there is no reference made to the Ordination Liturgies of A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa. These present IMO one of the best, succinct expressions of ministry, and would surely be ideal for developing strategic planning for formation for the ministries that they describe in the manner we are bound to uphold.
  • Rather than the three overlapping foci of the strategic plan, I suggest the foci I provide in my image at the start of this post (preside, preach, pastor) as alternative (or further?) foci around which formation, training, and study for church leaders could be strategically organised.
  • Astonishingly, the church’s strategic plan makes no reference to the work of TEAC (Theological Education for the Anglican Communion). TEAC was established at the meeting of the Anglican Primates in Gramado, Brazil in May 2003 (building on previous work) and regularly reports to the Primates’ meetings and to the Anglican Consultative Council – theological education is seen as a priority in the Communion. TEAC has produced a number of very helpful documents.

This is the third in a series of posts reflecting on General Synod Te Hinota Whanui 2012 (GSTHW) of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. It is written from the perspective of one not present at that meeting.
The first post looked at the attempted revision of A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa.
The second post looked at the making of a collection of rites, for the Lent and Easter Seasons, a formulary of our church.

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