anglicantaonga

Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Working Towards Shared Vision

Two bishops and an academic tackle the question of a shared vision for theological education in this province.

Taonga forum  |  14 Oct 2010

‘Unity in Related Diversity’ in Theological Education in the Province

Summary  The paper begins with a sketch of the idea of ‘unity in related diversity’ that is grounded in a theology of the Trinity & that carries over into the understanding of Church as Communion (the Anglican Communion) as into a co-operative practice of Theological Education.  It then moves on to consider how emerging patterns of ministry and mission in the Province can be seen in fruitful relation with what happens at St. John’s College.  Next, in the light of a definition of theology as ‘the activity whereby intentional reflection, ethics or action, and spirituality meet and interact creatively’, it moves on to look at such matters as: the relation between University- and College-based TE & a sketch of a possible College Curriculum. If a student’s time at SJC was extended to three and a half years, the first two would be spent on a Bachelor of Theology (or some equivalent qualification); the final 18 months on education for ministry and mission in today’s Church. This latter would revolve around practical placements in Church & Community as well as opportunities for personal growth. These supervised placements would involve students in writing in-depth papers that would then be shared in a central Hui/Seminar.  This, besides being an exercise in communication for students, would become the place where much new thinking about mission & ministry could emerge. The paper ends with some reflections on Staffing, on the role of Tikanga-based Colleges in this new scenario (under the general umbrella of The College of St. John the Evangelist) and that of Kotahitanga as now the College’s effective Board of Governors.

The recent enquiry into the malfunctioning of the three Tikanga structure of the College of St. John the Evangelist, Auckland, authored by Sir Paul Reeves and Kathryn Beck, states:

‘Until recently it [Kotahitanga] … did not appear to have any … vision for what or who is the College of St.John the Evangelist and what its mission or purpose is.  It tended to deal with matters as they arose on a case-by-case basis as opposed to them being part of any particular plan or direction.  In fact the perception that there was no shared vision for the entity that is the College of St. John the Evangelist was a significant criticism that emerged from our enquiries’. [Reeves-Beck Enquiry, 2:10]

Authentic vision is a gift of God.  The purpose of this paper, more modestly, is to work towards one.  It asks the question: what would a shared vision for theological education in the Province look like, one that embraced not only St. John’s College, but other Diocesan- or Tikanga-based initiatives? This ‘working towards’ is unlikely to materialize from bureaucratic fiat, but may emerge from wide consultation based on a combination of prayer, deep and careful thinking, and a drawing on experience. This paper is an attempt by a small Wellington-based group to contribute to (or catalyze) that process.

More fundamentally, any working towards such a vision needs to be seen in context of Christian understanding of the mystery of God as we see this mirrored in the face of Jesus Christ and poured out in a continuing Pentecost in the life of the Church (2 Corinthians 4:6; Acts 2:1-11, cp. 4:31). It is one of the strengths of the Reeves-Beck Enquiry that it opens with a Preamble along these lines.  We read, for example:

‘The church is a unity of persons, the fellowship of the Spirit.  There are many persons but one body, many gifts but one Spirit.  The three Tikanga constitutional development in our church is an opportunity to rejoice in our diversity, integrity and God-given gifts within a wide partnership.  It may be time to assess where we have got to’.

This raises a question. How do we understand the language of ‘fellowship, diversity, partnership’ in the fresh vision that we seek?  In a three-Tikanga structure, is diversity to be practiced as independence and separatism? Or is the accent on fellowship and partnership?  The insight that has guided our group’s discussion is one of  ‘Communio of Persons-in-Relation.’  We do well, then, to pause and reflect on this further.

In the handing on of the living Gospel –‘traditio’ properly so-called – the true mystery of God has from the first been experienced as Triune, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  For reflection on theological education, this means getting beyond balancing up the relative priorities of unity and diversity in the life of the Church. Yes, there must be celebration of diversity of gifts and culture, but not at the expense of on-going reflection on how elements of this legitimate diversity relate to one another. How does a diversity of gifts ‘build up the Body of Christ’? This is St. Paul’s insistent question.  See 1 Corinthians 8:1; 10:23; 14:4,17,26; I Thessalonians 5:11. Here precisely is where a pondering on the meaning of a ‘related diversity’ (fellowship, partnership) in the light of the Gospel comes into play.  This is particularly relevant for a Church, the Anglican Church, which at all levels, sees itself as a Communion, viz. The Anglican Communion.

‘Person’ in Trinitarian context, we need to recall, means ‘Persons-in-Relation’ i.e. Persons who, for all their difference, can only properly be called ‘Persons’ in so far as they relate to one another.  For all their independence (of origin and mission/function) as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they only exist as Persons in the fullest (or divine) sense – i.e. as Trinity in Unity – as a Communio – in so far, that is, as they relate to one another in a total self-giving and receiving of love. This love, shared and exchanged, is what theologians call ‘equiprimordial’ (for want of a better word!) both at its point of origin as in any Missio or agency exercised by God – understood as ‘Communio of Persons-in-Relation’ in history.

Communio, in other words, is fundamental to the being of God (in eternity, as in time), and not some later development from a pre-given unity.  This is what produces the ‘Communio’ effect, the deep mutual self-giving and receiving of what at root is the same love. In it we see what structures and characterizes every expression of God’s love, be this in creation, redemption, or in God’s leading of creation to fulfillment.  At every stage persons created in the image of the Triune God – in their setting in creation, in their inter-relationships, in any future-oriented endeavours – are invited to share in the Trinitarian Communio of the life of this, the true God.

God as ‘communio’ has thus been called a ‘rhythm of love’ which, while it exists in fullest intensity and eternity in the shared being of God, is revealed and reproduced in all its fullness in time and place in Christ, in ‘the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light’ (I Peter 2:9; 2 Corinthians 4:5-6; Colossians 2:9). Also implied, besides the redeeming and self-giving life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, are other expressions – on-going! - of God’s love such as Creation.  Nor is our account of God as Communio complete without invoking the continuing Pentecost which is at the heart of the Church’s life.  In the out-pouring of the Spirit in building the Kingdom (in Church and Creation), we experience, often in imperfect and fragmentary ways, the restoration of people to full personhood and with it their ability to relate fully and in love to other persons and thus to create richness of community.

In Church communion this is initiated and sustained in sacramental realizations (Baptism and Eucharist), in the ever-renewed challenge of the Gospel articulated in preaching, and in service to one another as believers and, equally vital, in service to the world which itself is always searching (more or less successfully) for authentic personhood, relationships, and community.  Germane, too, to a Three Tikanga Church such as our own looking to re-evaluate its life are the great baptismal texts in Paul. ‘As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave nor free, there is no longer male or female; for you are all one in Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 3:22-23; cp. I Corinthians 12:13; Colossians 3:11).

If space allowed, this could be expanded in many pertinent ways.  For example, one of the merits of Communio theology is that it doesn’t prioritize the ‘Father’, thus opening way for a thoroughgoing and creative account of differences of gender. The basic Christian model for such reflections might again be ‘persons-in-relationship’ in the giving and receiving of love – the problem being how this has broken down and needs to be restored.  Authentic Christian feminist theology may have its roots here.  The same goes for the inter-relations of people who differ by race, culture, religion or wealth; and all this as basic (and challenging) to a society that sees itself as egalitarian.

The point of laying this out - albeit in summary form – is to arrive at a theologically grounded model through which we can begin to discern new directions for Theological Education in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and one, moreover, that is authentically Anglican. To spell it out: the purpose of what follows is to explore the implications of the ecclesial model of ‘unity in related diversity’, a model that is grounded in an understanding of Trinity as a Communio of Persons- in- Relation ; and this not only as to the content of Theological Education, but also for such matters as the relation between Tikanga, and that between St. John’s College in Auckland and other Diocesan- or Tikanga-based initiatives in TE.  It could, further, provide a theological leitmotiv for fresh and creative thinking on the nature and practice of ministry and mission in the years ahead.

1. New Directions on Theological Education, Mission, Ministry  

We now turn our attention to consideration of how our Communio model might play out in the above-mentioned areas, in particular in TE.  Fortunately, we don’t do this in a vacuum, but are able to build on work done (or being done) by others.  In the first category (work done by others) we should like to mention the 1982 Report presented to General Synod entitled, ’A Theology of Priesthood for New Zealand’.  This repays further study: in particular its attempt to earth a theology of priesthood and mission firmly in the New Zealand context.  In its concept of ‘place’ to mean a ‘natural human grouping’ (i.e. a geographical area or, say, a small town or suburb of a large city) and in its concept of mission as ‘the teamwork or solidarity in mission of all the baptized in each place’, it may give us vital clues as we try to re-imagine a TE that corresponds to this way of looking at future developments.  One quotation must suffice.

The Commission agreed that the central vision we as a Church need to work towards … is one of ministry as the teamwork or solidarity in mission of all the baptized in each place.  Priestly ministry and “holy order” must serve and not suppress the ministry of the whole people of God (Eph. 4:11-12).  Here Christ’s own priesthood and the way he exercised authority among his disciples provide us with the primary models we need.  Christ’s whole human nature was both a gift from God and the way of access for people into the life of God. By his own complete obedience unto death he offers the whole of humanity and its life to God the Father. Christian priesthood is a recapitulation of and a centering on or sharing in this one fundamental priesthood of Christ. Thus the life of a priest is both a personal offering of self to God through Christ and a constant struggle to promote or facilitate a similar offering in the lives of others.’ [A Theology of Priesthood for New Zealand.  A Report to General Synod 1982 by the Provincial Commission on Doctrine and Theological Questions, p.9]

In conjunction with this we want to acknowledge the on-going search for and experimentation with (throughout the Province and across Tikanga) new and more co-operative structures or units of mission.  This is not the place to go into detail.  Marae-based Maori Pastorates may have much to teach us here.  More of what is involved comes out in a recent statement by our own Bishop, Tom Brown:

‘There is a mood now to see how we might connect with each other in areas where two, three or more Parishes form a Region or Deanery, and to explore how mission and ministry might be shared’. [Bishop’s News for May 2010]

At the heart of this, driving it, is the twin perception that many residence-based Parishes in Tikanga Pakeha are no longer financially viable; and that mission in present-day society cannot adequately be addressed by a ‘one-man/person band’ approach, but rather invites a teamwork that involves co-operation between more targeted specializations – ‘unity in related diversity’ in this sense.  More on this anon. 

2.  The College of St. John the Evangelist, Auckland 

In the light of the above, one thing needs to be clearly stated at the outset.

The College will flourish in years to come provided the Church of the Province can come up with a Mission Statement that can then become the mandate for the College. We’re talking about the implications of such a mandate for things like key appointments, the shape and thrust of the curriculum, and College life generally. In plain language, the Church needs to get its act together before the College can find its sense of direction. In this scenario, the College is clearly seen to be the servant of the Church, a Church that could then fully own and support its College. Failure to synchronize Church and College in the past has, conversely, lead to misunderstandings and sometimes hostility between the two. 

This speaks for itself; but in the present context it poses the question of whether the achieving of an implemented vision for the College in its three Tikanga structure should involve wider consultation than that provided by Kotahitanga (the effective Board of Governors) and the work of the Commissary (and eventual Principal) – as recommended by the Reeves-Beck Enquiry.  This reflects the fact that Theological Education happens in many places in the Province – e.g. in Dioceses, Tikanga – besides St. John’s.

This in effect calls for a Province-wide (and at all levels) focus on how the Church will understand its mission in the years ahead and how this can best be resourced and driven by TE wherever this happens, at St. John’s or elsewhere.

3.  What do we mean by ‘Theology’?

Next we need to reflect (briefly) on the nature of a theology which does justice to the wholeness of the discipline itself, but one capable of producing not only a wholeness in the persons engaged in such study, but which also carries over into a wholeness of church life and mission generally.

 What is meant, then, by ‘theology’ in the first place?  As a statement of principle (or definition), we suggest the following: ‘Theology is the activity whereby intentional reflection (theology, narrowly so called), ethics or action, and spirituality meet and interact creatively’. This activity, however, doesn’t take place in a vacuum.  It is, on the one hand, grounded in Scripture and Christian Tradition generally, ‘tradition’ understood as the ‘handing on of the Gospel through time’ in Bible and Church.  On the other hand, it is highly responsive to the culture and context in which it does its work.  The burning question is: what – in ‘word or action’ (Romans 15:18-19) – will come over to people in our Aotearoa/New Zealand context as Gospel, as life-changing Word (or practice) of salvation?

We are thus in the presence of three mutually enhancing (and correcting) streams of learning and communicating.  They comprise, to spell it out, the heart work of prayer and praise, the actions of ethical practice (and reflection), as well as creative and critical thinking in theology narrowly so called.  Negatively we could say that thinking without spirituality or action (ethics) becomes heady and sterile; that ethics/action without reflection or spirituality can degenerate into mindless, shallow pragmatism; that spirituality without reflection or action can drift off into sentimentality and other-worldliness.

Thus we could define theology in this inclusive sense as the creative interaction – or ‘unity in related diversity’ - of:

*Critical reflection on Christian tradition (aka: the handing on of the Gospel over time) with a view to repristinating and articulating the Gospel of salvation for today; a discipline sometimes called ‘hermeneutics’.

*Action and reflection on everything to do with praxis: building Christian community (Church); the Church as servant of the wider community and its needs; constructive thinking around ethical issues facing people in contemporary society.

*How to celebrate the glory of God in praise and thanksgiving – liturgy; how people grow in wholeness and holiness – prayer, spirituality, growth in personal maturity.

This wider understanding of ‘theology’ has to be built into any Curriculum of Theological Education that has integrity, that creates wholeness in people, and which meets the needs of the Church as it now is.  Are we here on the track of a vision?

4.  Theological Education and University-based Theology

This is the place to raise questions about the relation between the needs of the Church in Theological Education and University-based teaching of Theology. The given situation is that the teaching of theology at SJC was post-2000 handed over to the new Auckland University School of Theology.  This relationship has since broken down, the vacuum now filled by Otago University (whose services are also used by Christchurch Diocese).  The Licentiate of Theology (LTh) is also widely used.

In favour of this hand-over, it could be said that theology (in the narrow sense of an academic discipline, see above) is taught by qualified instructors and therefore done with rigour and in an informed way.  Against that, stand two obvious reservations.  First, there is no guarantee that any University will continue to provide the kind of theology that is relevant to training for mission and ministry in the believing community of the Church. Connectedly, there is worldwide evidence that university-based theology, once largely the province of Christian theologians, is now moving increasingly in the direction of Religious Studies.  For example, a recent publication of the Oxford University Theological Faculty states:

 ‘In a major new initiative, the faculties of Theology and Oriental Studies have decided to pool their exceptional resources in the teaching of religions to create a new joint degree in which it will be possible to study other religions in the same depth as Christianity has traditionally been studied within the Theology Faculty’. [The Oxford Theologian, Issue 1/Spring 2010, p.19] 

The writing is surely on the wall; and its implication is that a College like SJC with its exceptional resources needs increasingly to take responsibility for its own teaching of theology, and this according to its own definition of what constitutes ‘theology’.  This of course is not to say that the study of other, non-Christian religions, is not in itself to be welcomed. 

As a bridge to what follows, we quote another key section of the Reeves-Beck Enquiry, one that concerns the work of the Commissary and eventual Principal.  There we read:

‘He/she [the Commissary appointed by Kotahitanga] would be required to put together an action plan to deliver vision for the College of St. John the Evangelist containing the three student Colleges of Te Rau Kahikatea, The College of the Southern Cross, the College of the Diocese of Polynesia and implement that plan.  He/she would have no less than the powers of a CEO with a mandate for change.’ [Reeves-Beck Enquiry, 3.4.2]

This may well be the way things get going in years to come.  Our group, however, want to suggest that any ‘action plan’ arrived at by the Appointee – now named as Gail Thomson - should arise out of the widest possible consultation.  In this way it would be helpful if people responsible for Mission, Ministry, and TE in the Dioceses, the Pihopatanga and in Tikanga Pasifika could meet at the earliest opportunity with the Commissary.  The purpose of these meetings would be for her to become acquainted with what is happening throughout the Province: what the real situation is, what new thinking is emerging, and how St. John’s can best relate to (and co-operate with) the good work that is going on at the coal-face.  Here the name of the game is communication and co-operation. This we would see as once again reflecting of our model of ‘unity in related diversity’; this rooting back into Trinitarian model of God as ‘Communio of Persons-in-Relation’.

5.  Justice and Care in Church & Community

We now move from generalities and questions of principle to the more precise challenges of how our thinking on TE could crystallize into a viable Curriculum for St. John’s.  What follows are suggestions only; their intention being to stimulate informed discussion and debate.  They are not a blueprint.  They do, however, reflect the statements of theological principle sketched above.

The two words ‘justice’ and ‘care’ focus a basic question: the relation between pastoral care in or outside the Church and initiatives that have to do with responding to needs in the wider, human community as well as to the environment. Traditionally the Anglican Church has seen itself as offering pastoral care to people of all sorts. This is one of its strengths, one that has been enriched in recent years by making the care offered culturally sensitive and appropriate.  This is a great gain and needs to be continued.  Pastoral training in the College is largely geared to this end.

What is missing, however, from this set of entirely legitimate concerns – here bundled together under the general heading of ‘care’ – is a concern for social justice (or outreach) where the questions of social change (or social need) and those related to the environment are on the agenda.  For any Church that reads its Bible attentively, all this surely must be equally central to its mission and ministry. We thus have not only care, but care & justice (or justice inclusive of care of the environment).  The question we wish to raise, therefore, is: how can Christians become agents of social change or builders of new community where people can flourish and this in a natural environment that is adequately protected and cared for?

These, surely, are questions that have to be addressed in any contemporary, biblically based, pastorally and socially responsible theological education.  One way, therefore, of seeing the full package could be as follows:

*The discipline of Pastoral Theology (care of people) would have to be widened to include Practical Theology (justice, environment).

*The Staff Member responsible for the latter (Practical Theology) would need – on the analogy of Pastoral Theology –to have the ability to identify areas of social change or need where students – carefully supervised and mentored - could be involved as observer/participants. He or she would need to have the ability to research this new area and find suitable placements in it. The same applies, mutatis mutandi, to Pastoral Education (care of people). Whereas Pastoral Theological Education would be concerned with Church-based units of mission (Parishes, Chaplaincies & etc), Practical Theology might begin by looking at Church-initiated Community Projects as well as the many excellent Voluntary Organizations that seek to meet specific needs in the human community. Other initiatives to do with social change (or justice) and the environment might suggest themselves.  It should be added that examples of Pioneer ministry are emerging which could also furnish good placements for students and which pull together the Church/Community distinction sketched above.

*Very schematically, the kind of theological method involved in these fields of education would be:

Contemporary Involvement à Theological Reflection -> Action/Reflection

(In Church or Community)     (As defined above)     (On-going)

*Students, lay or ordained, involved in this kind of training would be required to write a paper describing their experience and setting out their learnings for future ministry/mission.  More on this later.

6. Sketch of a Possible Curriculum

A possible way forward for SJC – and perhaps for other initiatives in Theological Education – might be to extend the time of students at the College from three to three and a half years.  The first two years would be devoted to biblical studies, the history of theology, and other key topics in a University (or other) setting. This would include an overview of Church History, the more context-specific Church History of Aotearoa/New Zealand and the Pacific reserved for the final eighteen months.  We’re talking here about a B.Theol. or some equivalent qualification. Our hunch is that the College in future years will increasingly have to take responsibility for this phase of training and make the consequent appointments to its Staff.  This does not exclude the possibility that a sustainable and mutually satisfactory partnership with Otago University could be negotiated.

The final eighteen months would then be devoted to forming students for the kind of team (or co-operative) ministry sketched above. The learning in this second, non-degree phase would be as much learning by doing as learning by theory. Without abandoning (book or online) learning, the emphasis would be on direct interaction with people in Church or community. This will be the time when students:

  • Bring together theology as thinking, as ethics/action, and as spirituality into a living Gospel and living Church for today; students working out what they themselves believe; learn to pray in depth; how to build celebratory and caring communities (Church).
  • Gain the hands-on, on the ground experience in pastoral care and practical theology that will equip them for mission and ministry in their future work in the NZ/Aotearoa/Pacific context.
  • Through programs like CPE deepen self-knowledge and ability to relate to other people, especially those in need.

A sketch of the Curriculum therefore might look like this:

Years 1, 2  B.Theol/Basic Theological Education

Years 3 (4)  a. Personal Growth: CPE; Prayer; Hermeneutics; life-style

       b. Pastoral Training and Experience/Care

    c.  Practical Training / Justice, Social/Community Needs, Environment

In years 3 and (4) there could be a Rolling Seminar/Hui/Forum in which students, building on learnings from years 1, 2, and mindful of the wider concept of theology sketch above, presented and processed papers derived from experience gained in a., b., c. (see above).  Each focus of learning – personal, pastoral, practical – could occupy, say, six months each.

This ‘Rolling Seminar’ – ‘Hui’ would be another name for it – would play a key role in several respects.  First, it would need excellent and skilled facilitation.  This might be the task of Staff Members; but it is an ideal context for the kind of ‘learning by doing’ that would initiate students into what is involved in team leadership in a situation of diversity. Ephesians 4:11-16 would be good place to start in working out the modus operandi of this seminar. Secondly, and relatedly, students (and relevant Staff from all three Tikanga) would be required to attend the Seminar.  On the agenda inevitably would be the issue of kawa.  According to whose cultural way of doing things would this Seminar/Hui operate?  Would the kawa of the Tangata Whenua be the best place to start?  Thirdly, as Students communicated their learnings and reflections under a., b., c., (see above), they would have a context in which to try out new ideas, get feedback, and generally learn how to get something across to a group.  For any mission-oriented Church, this type of effective communication is of the essence. Fourthly, the Staff Members – three or more in number and with good gender balance – who were responsible for the Seminar would have to be drawn from all three Tikanga and, moreover, represent the fullness of theology as sketched above (reflection, action/ethics, spirituality). Such a way of learning, we suggest, would be both culturally appropriate, geared to the needs of the team-oriented Church of the future, and, besides, in itself be a highly creative and powerful tool for learning.

While supervised sermon practice is perhaps best located in Parishes/Pastorates, it might be good if all students contributed at least one sermon in the Seminar/Hui. Once again, questions of communication and content would come to the fore.

To get the whole picture, two further things need to be thrown in.

A. If we made a list of things essential to the mission of the Church (‘all the baptized in each place’), we could come up with something like the following:

Building Christian Community: worship/liturgy, preaching, pastoral care; leadership; education; arranging and leading retreats; fund-raising & etc..

How to build teams in ministry and mission that involve clergy and laity working together: the relation between ordained priesthood and the priesthood of all believers.

Christian outreach and service to society in responding to human need and in advocacy/involvement in justice issues.

Credibility, communication of the Gospel in a secular society; the kind of sustained study by clergy and others that addresses this question of credibility.

Working with people at different stages in life’s journey: children & youth; adults and family; professional people in (or out) of work; older people.

Counseling and spiritual direction: identifying and equipping people able to teach & encourage others to pray (SD) and/or able to offer professional-standard counseling to the broken and broken-hearted.

Awareness of one’s own culture – how this can be fostered in the light of the Gospel; ability to relate positively to people of others cultures in Aotearoa/NZ.

Closely related to the foregoing: ecumenical relations with people (in the local area) of other Christian traditions and other Faiths.

Becoming involved in action – locally or globally – that relate to effective and informed care of the environment.

If Christian Community (‘Church’) is going to include some or all of the above in its local manifestations (city, suburb, region etc) we are no longer talking about single priests in residence-based Parishes.  Rather we are exploring teamwork amongst a range of specializations and/or far greater co-operation between existing parishes/ministry units – indeed, the creation of a whole raft of new structures.

Given that we are talking ‘team, co-operation, specialization’ – ‘unity in related diversity’ in this sense [recall the Trinitarian model of ‘communio’ as persons (& etc)–in-relation] - we need, in context of Theological Education, to identify early the gifts and callings of students with a view to shaping their study and practical involvements so that they have something creative and specific to offer in a team setting: specializations like youth, counseling, lay theological education (EFM etc), for example.

Putting the accent on teamwork, leadership, and specialization could also provide the means to address realistically the question of inter-Tikanga co-operation. Students – across each Tikanga – with particular gifts and specializations – and learned or nurtured in the cross-cultural context of the College (see above on the Seminar/Hui) – might well turn out to be ‘portable’ on long- or short-term contracts as between Tikanga.  This would not merely be a symbolic matter, but a way in which people with specific gifts and skills could be of genuine use in more than one cultural setting.  It is an idea, at any rate, worth pursuing.  It chimes in with what has been sketched above.

B.  The skeleton curriculum outlined above has implications for Staffing at SJC and for the way Diocesan-based theological education is understood & practiced.

Recall: Years 3 (4)  a. Personal Growth: CPE; Prayer; Hermeneutics

           b. Pastoral Training and Experience/Care

       c.  Practical Training / Justice, Social/Community Needs, Environment.

This requires (1) a working, creative theologian researching/articulating a theology/form of discourse that pulls together critical thinking, ethics/justice, and spirituality. This could be done, for instance, in a mission- & ministry-oriented study of Christology.  After the more academic study of theology in Years 1,2, students need a place where they can work out what for them is Gospel; what they themselves actually believe.  (2) Two further persons: a pastoral theologian capable of initiating and servicing education in sense (b); and a practical (or praxis-based) theologian able to do the same, but in sense (c).  (3) A fourth person whose area of specialization was spirituality, church, ministry and sacraments. This would be the area in which to teach ‘Anglicanism’.  For while areas 1 & 2 may admit a specifically Anglican approach, area 3 certainly does.  (4) A fifth person whose specialization was the Aotearoa/New Zealand context, its history and sociology. (4) Finally, a sixth person who was a Biblical Scholar capable of bringing material to bear on all of the above from both Testaments.  These six persons – as far as possible, drawn from all Tikanga and with gender balance – must be able to work together and model both cultural/gender diversity/ identity and an ability to relate cultures/Tikanga/genders creatively and in a ways that enrich the total educational process. Once again, ‘unity in related diversity’ or ‘Communio as persons-in-relation’, this time in cross-cultural/gender theological education.

Thus, running in parallel with the ‘Rolling Seminar/Hui’ (concerned with reflection and on-going action in interface with Church and Community/Environment), there would be three mandatory courses: (A) in Theology, Hermeneutics, Ethics (see (1) above); (B) in the History of the Church in the Aotearoa/NZ/Pacific context, the Sociology of contemporary society, Social analysis; (C) in Church, Ministry, Sacraments (Anglicanism); and (D) in Biblical Studies.  These would enrich and inform contributions to the RS/Hui, and of course would be enriched by it.  The whole ‘lump’ of TE would also be leavened by continuous confrontation with the real issues and questions that people  ‘out there’ in Church and Community are dealing with day by day.

If we include the Heads of Colleges, we are thus looking at a total Staff Establishment of nine (exclusive of the Principal).  How this Staff/Curriculum scenario would work in practice might become clearer if we made suggestions about the role of Heads of Colleges. 

The title of each of these three persons would be for each Tikanga to decide. The Head of the College of the Southern Cross might be known as the ‘Guardian’ of the College. This would (a) avoid confusion with the overall Head of the College of St.John the Evangelist (inclusive of all three Tikanga), the Principal; and (b) reflect the primarily pastoral nature of the job.

[Question to be resolved: should these ‘Colleges’ have their names changed to ‘Communities’ – e.g. Community of the Southern Cross – to avoid confusion with ‘The College of St. John the Evangelist’, the shared space where the main business of TE is transacted?]

The primary function of the Guardian (& analogues in Tikangas Maori & Pasifika) is to provide a pastorally & culturally safe place for students during their time at St.John’s.  This community ‘safe place’ requires constant attention to personal needs of students, culturally appropriate worship within Tikanga, encouraging mutual support amongst students, care of families, insuring that time at St.John’s is a good experience for spouses.

[The Creche & kitchen/dining arrangements on Campus are – can become? – daily meeting places for students/staff/families of all three Tikanga]

At the administrative level, these persons (Guardians & etc.) would be responsible (in consultation with the Bursar) for the infrastructure of their respective College/Community (housing, scholarships); and, of fundamental importance, recruitment and admission of students in communication with Dioceses/Tikanga.  In this way, they would be the conduit for students preparing for Ordination (or for roles in lay ministry) into the College.

They would be responsible for the regular and culturally appropriate worship of students (& their families) in their particular College/Community. Here, as in College life generally, the full range of cultural identity in language and practice should be deployed.  In this way we might see College-wide worship as an offering of one particular Tikanga to the other two on a regular, rotating basis.  This, and such matters as whether there should be Sunday worship on Campus or whether students & families should be encouraged to worship in parishes/pastorates, is one to be resolved in consultation with the Commissary/Principal.  Fundamental to worship & spirituality is the teaching that Heads of Tikanga Colleges/Communities should provide on personal prayer, the discipline of saying Daily Offices, or whatever is culturally appropriate.

 As regards teaching, Heads of Colleges/Communities would be responsible for providing Language Classes specific to their Tikanga, yet open to members of other Tikanga. Besides Maori, this might include one or more language from the Pacific as well as English as a Second Language for students studying in English for the first time. Whether these Heads of Colleges/Communities should have a teaching function in the wider St. John’s College curriculum would depend (a) on their personal qualifications; and (b) on whether they had the quality time to prepare realistically for this function. They would, however, need to be in close touch with what was happening in the teaching and seminars of the whole College.

In this regard, these persons might attend a monthly Staff Meeting of all on Campus, the other Staff Meetings concerning academic staff only.  The Principal/Commissary would chair both meetings.

7. Kotahitanga 

This is the group mandated by General Synod to be the effective Governing Body of the College of St. John the Evangelist in its three Tikanga structure (see Reeves-Beck Enquiry).  In the light of all of the above, Kotahitanga should lift its game in two ways: Besides maintaining the identity, integrity and interests of each Tikanga at the College, to explore (in consultation with Ministry Committees) how the three Tikanga represented on site can work together constructively; look at ways of promoting more co-operation and general coming and going between the College and Tikanga- or Diocesan-based initiatives and practice in theological education.  It needs to exercise this kind of overview.  Once again, the notion of ‘Communio’ as sketched above should inform the overall vision and strategy of what Kotahitanga tries to do. Indeed its own name, ‘Kotahitanga’ [Maori: action to pull together, unify], reflects this approach.

With this in mind, we could sketch a ‘job description’ for Kotahitanga as follows:

*Through suitable Tikanga/Diocesan representation, be continually sensitive to the needs of the Church in its mission/ministry at the present time.

*Involve the Commissary/Principal [See Reeves-Beck Enquiry 3.4.2] in all its deliberations as of right.  S/he will then be the vital link and promoter of dialogue/understanding between the College(s) and its effective Governing Body (Kotahitanga).  It might further be an advantage if the Commissary/Principal met with the Bishops on a regular basis.  They (the Bishops) could thus be kept fully informed as to what is going on in the College and, at the same time, make their views and requests known to the College (via the Commissary/Principal).  Another model would be to have adequate representation of the Bishops in Kotahitanga itself.  For they, surely, are the key players in the initiation and sustaining of innovative Theological Education and Mission in the Province.  We also suggest that Diocesan Ministry Officers should be adequately represented.  Part of the logic of the Paper is that Theological Education at SJC cannot be adequately done without close reference to what is happening in the rest of the Province.

*Find a constructive and well-informed way of working with Staff and Students at the College. This means not only having Staff and Student representation on Kotahitanga.  It also means College Staff making regular presentations to Kotahitanga as to what they are doing in a way that invites encouragement, criticism, and feedback generally.  This kind of good communication should, among other things, prevent Kotahitanga getting out of touch with the College and generally head off the need to have periodic reviews of the College when things are deemed to be out of control or not working.

*Good hands-on management – are we talking sub-committees?  This concerns primarily Staff Appointments and Funding, the two very closely related.  Once a vision of how Theological Education is expected to evolve at the College (and in the Province generally) has been agreed (and written down in a Mission Statement), then it will become clear what sort of Staff Appointments need to be made, in what areas of specialization. The kind of vision laid out above has clear implications in this regard.

In the matter of Staff Appointments, several other corollaries might follow. If Theological Education is to become a coordinated, cooperative, Province-wide thing, then there needs to be more coming and going between the College and Dioceses/Tikanga.  In this way we recommend that College Appointments by Kotahitanga be for 5 years initially, renewable up to a maximum of 10. It is essential that these same rules apply to the Principal.  While this person is to have the ‘powers of a CEO’ (Reeves-Beck Enquiry), it is important that checks and balances be in place that encourage him or her to be the servant of the College and not become a petty tyrant with indefinite tenure.  Thus people who teach at the College for a time could then move on to teach in Dioceses/Tikanga and vice-versa. Further, if people who have served in the College, especially if they have been recruited from overseas, do not wish to continue working in theological education, they should have the option of being welcomed into some suitable position in the life of the Church of the Province. In the past, employment at the College has sometimes been a high-risk, even career-destroying occupation.  This is not a responsible use of qualified/talented employees and not fair on the people (and their families) concerned.

In the matter of Sabbatical Leave – for six months? – a good place for this to take place – providing that Staff are to continue in the College or in TE elsewhere – would be after the initial five year’s service at the College.  For any TE that is to remain creative and buoyant, Staff need ‘time-out’ to write, catch up on key publications and generally break new ground in their particular discipline.

The corollary of this for funding should be clear. Kotahitanga should authoritatively advise the relevant funding body of the St. John’s Trust as to (a) who should be funded for further study in New Zealand or overseas with a view to their becoming qualified teachers in the College or Province; (b) what the Staff Establishment at the College should be at any given time and the on-going budget items this will involve; (c) what the requirements for Sabbatical Leave are; (d) the overall costs of the College, including Scholarships for students.

Finally, Kotahitanga itself will need to have a membership and a Chairperson capable of driving through the kind of agenda outlined in this paper. This will involve leadership of a high order that is culturally sensitive, well informed, theologically articulate, consultative, and determined. A tall order!  Veni Creator Spiritus!

Raymond Pelly, + Richard Randerson, + Muru Walters,

Wellington, 23 September 2010 

Comments