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St John's College Auckland

Seminary forgets to train ordinands?

St John's College AucklandOur national Anglican seminary in Auckland (Aotearoa New Zealand) is advertising for the position of Principal/Manukura.

It is extremely noticeable that neither in the seminary’s mission statement (below), nor in the particulars of the position, is there any mention of training and forming people for ordination. Astonishing! [That in spite of St John’s College Trust Deed obviously explicitly and centrally talking about training people for ordination.]

Having been appalled at the Inter Diocesan Conference (IDC) reception of the the Tikanga Pakeha strategic plan for theological education, maybe I should not be surprised/distressed!

Here is the advertisement:

Te Kotahiitanga, as Board of Governors of the College of St John the Evangelist, invites expressions of interest for the role of:   



The College of St John the Evangelist has a vision of loving service, unity and reconciliation in Christ such that:

  • We are entrusted with the theological educational task of preparing students to be sent out from the college, confidently equipped to be as sacrificial, transformative, just, healing and reconciling agents, as servants of God revealed in Christ
  • We are able to give full expression to the diversity, gifts and treasures of the three Tikanga by our unity in Christ
  • We live our lives in loving service to God’s people and God’s world. Our life and our formation at St John’s College and beyond always strives towards this purpose
  • We seek to fulfil this vision as a Christian community that takes seriously our reconciliation in Christ
  • We acknowledge that we undertake this journey in deep thanksgiving for the legacy of Selwyn and all our faithful forebears

The College of St John the Evangelist, in response to the saving act of Christ, and in recognition of the five marks of mission, exists to provide excellence in bicultural, three Tikanga, theological education for the mission and ministry of the Church in Aotearoa New Zealand, Polynesia and the world.

Te Kotahitanga (the Board of Governors of the College) wishes to appoint a person as Principal/Manukura of the College of St John the Evangelist. The position requires excellence in executive management skills, and a proven ability to provide leadership in a theological academic world, with a minimum of a preferred PhD or Doctorate in Ministry in areas relevant to the theology and management of a theological college.

The person will be expected to provide leadership, relationship management and strategic support and direction in the provision of quality academic programmes within the College of St John the Evangelist. This role is charged with driving the mission of St John’s by providing inspirational managerial and operational leadership, clear academic direction and skilful implementation of the strategic requirements of Te Kotahitanga. The position has a mandate for change with full delegated authority from Te Kotahitanga to develop and implement policy, make rules and regulations and facilitate the development and implementation of the academic curriculum. The role requires committed leadership, within the context of bicultural, three Tikanga relationships, and is responsible for management of the day to day operations of the College, pastoral and spiritual care of students through the  Deans  and staff and close liaison and consultation with Te Kotahitanga and other important stakeholders.

The level of appointment will depend on qualifications and experience.

You must be eligible to work in NZ to be considered for this position.

For a copy of the Job Description please contact the Te Kotahitanga Executive Officer, Ms Paula Jakeman

(09) 528 7086 or executiveofficer@ang.org.nz

Closing Date: 2 November, 2012, 5.00 pm

Applications to be forwarded to the Te Kotahitanga Executive Officer – Ms Paula Jakeman

PO Box 87-188 Meadowbank, Auckland 1742

ps. it has been pointed out to me that in the “Vacancies newsletter from the Diocese of Christchurch” (PDF) this position is classified under “Lay Ministry Vacancies” and is not regarded as part of “Clergy Vacancies” (see pages 4-5 of the linked PDF).

H/T to Rev Dr Peter Carrell who has a further reflection on this position here.

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8 thoughts on “Seminary forgets to train ordinands?”

  1. Gillian Trewinnard

    At the risk of opening my mouth in order to place my foot firmly in it, are you being quite fair Bosco when you say that the advertisement makes no mention of forming or preparing people for ordination? The word ‘ordination’ is not used but the mission statement holds that the college is “entrusted with the theological educational task of preparing students to be sent out … confidently equipped to be as sacrificial, transformative, just, healing and reconciling agents, as servants of God revealed in Christ”. Am I being a bit dense in thinking that ordination, among other things, is implied? It is also stated that the college “exists to provide excellence in bicultural, three Tikanga, theological education for the mission and ministry of the Church … ” – again, not actually using the word ordination but implying that this is included? I do realise that not only ordained people are part of the mission and ministry of the church. Please forgive me if I have got the wrong impression.

    1. Yes, Gillian, I think I am being quite fair.

      We insist on keeping no national/province church statistics, but I would be interested to know if even one in twenty of our ordinands are going to St John’s College. As far as I know Auckland Diocese is the only diocese that uses St John’s as its normal training means for stipendiary ministry. As far as I know, at least one diocese has not sent anyone to St John’s for half a dozen years – yet ordinations continue there regularly. I have no idea what proportion of those students at St John’s are being formed for ordination, nor how many are there, nor what that formation involves – if you can find such information readily, please provide us the links.

      I struggle to imagine an Anglican seminary anywhere in the Communion that is better financially resourced than St John’s. Why then is it not more obviously the jewel in the Communion’s crown of seminaries? Why is it not understood to be the Anglican world’s pre-eminent place for ordination formation? Why did it get such a devastating report, and have the suspension of its canon extended by General Synod Te Hinota Whanui? If essential to its core business is the formation of ordinands, why is that not mentioned in either its mission statement, nor in the advertisement’s job description? Clearly ordination formation is not identified with St John’s in the mind of the province; isn’t it time to turn such a view around – with the appointment of a Principal/Manukura?


  2. Just a remark on your post script. Advertising this as a lay position ensures that an appropriately qualified lay person might consider applying without excluding clergy applications (clergy are part of the laos after all). But advertising as a clergy post suggests that you believe that only clergy could fulfil the role. I have little doubt that the majority of applicants will be ordained but there are, across the Communion, a few lay people with both the theological and managerial background and experience being sought. It is good, for once, to see that, at least in the Diocese of Christchurch, this is recognised in the way an advert happens to be placed.

    1. Thanks, Harvey. The equivalent position, currently, is held by a lay person.

      I am not as convinced as you are that a priest is a lay person. I see the orders as equal and complementary – a priest is equal and complementary to a lay person. (I am not into collecting orders, nor do I have a Russian doll understanding of orders). There’s plenty on this site that discusses that.

      Like you, I see no reason why a lay person should not apply for this position. That being the case, I would have put either no heading or something like “vacancy for laity or clergy”.


  3. Hi Bosco,
    as an outsider i would be interested to know what percentage of St John’s students are ordinands, whether stipendiary or self supporting. does the college also equip authorised lay ministries (presumably on a non-residential basis)? it does seem strange that the potential for ordination among students isn’t more explicit in the advertisments (and indeed on the college’s homepage)

    1. Thanks, Ali. If you check through the comments, you will see that I do not know the answer to your questions. There are certainly lay people receiving training at St John’s; including residentially. I am not sure who, if anyone, keeps these statistics and where. Blessings.

  4. I agree, Bosco, that it is odd that the word ordination is not mentioned in the advertisement. However I think there is some justification for its omission (assuming it is not a plain oversight) and that is because there are a mixed bag of students there (from the perspective of orders). Some are ordinands; some of those ordinands are ordained deacon before leaving the College; some students there are already priests, either doing some catch up training or a post-graduate degree; then there are students studying other courses than theology/ministry formation, but doing so in order to serve the church in other ways than through ordained ministry.

    Nevertheless I think it paramount that the principal have some ability to train people for ordination.

    1. Thanks, Peter. I’m with you in thinking it is odd; and I will have to think further about your point that those who prepared the mission statement and advertisement intentionally omitted it. Your point that St John’s is used as a residence for people studying other than theology is, interestingly, not reflected in the advertisement either. Blessings.

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