Global South Anglican theological Formation and Education Task Force, Kigali September 2006

Preamble

The timing of the Task Force is significant, in light of the growth of the Anglican Churches in the Global South (Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Middle East) and the contemporary crisis in the Anglican Communion. Both contexts demand that theological formation and education be accorded top priority by the Episcopal leadership of the Anglican Churches in the Global South. The time has come for the Anglican Churches in the Global South to initiate and take responsibility for theological formation and education programmes, in order to be faithful to God’s call as salt and light to the communities and nations, and contribute effectively to theological reflection in the Anglican Communion.

Among other recommendations, we are proposing to the Global South Anglican Primates to upgrade the Task Force to a Standing Commission,  which will among other tasks be a resource and think-tank serving the Global South Primates, as well as supporting them in monitoring the implementation of agreed priorities in theological formation and education. We recognize that there are other doctrinal commissions, theological formation and education initiatives in the Communion, such as the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Theological Education for the Anglican Communion. However, the uniqueness of this proposed Commission is the fact that it is born of the Global South Anglican movement to serve the Anglican Churches in the Global South and therefore directly meets a need to build their capacity to contribute meaningfully to theological formation and reflection within their specific context as well as the wider Anglican Communion.

In this light, the task force recognizes that its mandate is to specifically address the theological needs for the Global South, and that in line with the proposed terms of reference the Task Force identifies its task as mainly twofold:

     
  • Theological     formation and education, which encompass discipleship and to encourage the     development of post-graduate levels of theological education and     leadership training for the GS
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  • Identifying     resources and establishing networks. This is task encompasses two aspects:    First, to identifying and recommend ways in which either new networks     could be established or existing networks of theological institutions     could be strengthened. Secondly, to provide resources for the GS ‘policy     instruments’ e.g. the Primates by developing ‘policy documents’ conducting     research, recommend action points, etc.

The following specific areas were discussed and recommendations made:

I. Catechism 

 The following preliminary questions were raised for the sake of clarification:

     
  • Is the     catechism inherited by the Anglican churches in the GS any longer     functional and/or relevant for these various contexts?
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  • Is it     realistic to development and/or recommend one document for the whole of     the GS?
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  • How     about if we identify and recommend a common framework e.g. in areas that     can generally be shared in common by different contexts such as the     historically accepted creeds, the affirmation of the sacraments of baptism     and the Lord’s Supper, the authority of the Scriptures, etc.?
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  • We     noted also the significance of the catechism and the catechetical method     of discipleship

Recommendations:
  The task force acknowledges that there are in existence varieties of catechisms as opposed to one generic catechism and that there is need to identify what already exists. It is important, therefore, to affirm the significance of each catechism and acknowledge the different historical,  social, cultural and political contexts that have given birth to these diversities.

     
  • Recommend     the setting up and/or reviving and strengthening of Provincial organs     charged with the review or development of liturgies and catechisms in     accordance with the need and relevance to each of our specific context.
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  • The     Task Force will establish a small working group to recommend a theological     framework that incorporates common elements for each catechism reflecting Biblical     faith and historic Anglican heritage.

II. Post-graduate level theological Education and leadership/ministerial formation

Recommendations:

     
  • Identify     centres of academic excellence that offer quality theological and     leadership programmes at a higher level of learning. These can be regional     resource centres for both lay and ordained Christians, in partnership with     one another for effective resource management and to avoid duplication of     efforts and programmes. This could be linked with existing initiatives     like ANITEPAM where possible and if need be, but also enter into     partnerships and joint projects (e.g. exchange programs) with institutions     of academic excellence that may be outside the GS but share common theological     concerns, visions and values and are faithful to the Holy Scriptures.
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  • Raise     and allocate financial and other resources for the continued support of     these centres, the coordinating and generally to help bring the initiative     to fruition. This calls for the establishment of a theological fund     dedicated for the support of theological education and formation in the GS

III. Network

The task force recommends::   The setting up a GS Theological Formation and Education Commission to provide resource and guidance particularly in the following areas:

     
  1. Evaluate/monitor     curricula issues and ensure standards and programmes offered are in line     with the GS-TFEC objectives
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  3. Encourage     relevancy, networking and identify resources, and generally provide continued     support
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  5. Hold     the ‘stakeholders’ (GS) accountable and especially through encouraging     continued commitment to the pursuance of set goals.
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  7. Encourage     establishing of regional consultation forums among existing Anglican     networks in the GS
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  9. Provide     resource persons for the GS leadership and the GS churches as need may     arise

IV. Resource Group
  The task force will work as a resource team to research,  write and generally make resources available to the primates on issues of significance that needs theological reflection and response as and when needed.

The task force identify areas of urgent need for attention and challenges that face the church such as in the areas of Islam, conflict,  economic empowerment, secularism, etc. and initiate theological studies and responses as may be needed. In this regard, two matters that may need immediate attention include Islam and conflict. The group recommends:

Islam

     
  • That the GS commissions a study on the challenges presented by the increasingly rapid spread of Islam. The study could establish trends, specific challenges and appropriate responses by specific churches in their different contexts.
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  • That the group gathers available resources,  document and make available such resources for use within the wider context of the GS churches
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  • Support theological institutions within GS that offer Islamic studies and Christian-Muslim relations
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  • Strengthen or recommend establishment of Mission and Evangelism Boards within different Provinces that can give special priority to address challenges presented by Islam and map out appropriate cause of actions in their specific contexts

Conflict
In light of the Rwanda genocide the GS could also commission a study on ‘the genocide and the churches’ experience and response.’  Specific task of such a study must incorporate:

     
  • Lessons learnt from this tragedy of such magnitude and its continuing implications for human life and relationships
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  • Identify the ongoing effects and challenges
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  • What needs to be done and especially what should be the churches’ role in the post-genocide Rwanda.
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  • We also propose that each province establish within their dioceses active boards that can monitor situations of conflict and facilitate conflict resolutions and management, as well as proactively work for the creation of an environment that promotes social transformations.

V. Funding
  We propose that the meetings of this proposed commission be held in such a way that they take place alongside the Primates meetings and that the members’ travels are facilitated by the Province from which members come but that the host church(es) share the cost by providing hospitality. The commission recommends if the work of the regional networks is also supported in a similar way.

2 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. The Rev. Kevin Francis Donlon, Ph.D. Says:

    Anglicanism like all religious traditions has a certain ethos, a certain mythic awareness that lies at its core. Many people in and outside the church believe it to be a church of ambiguity.

    The Global South leadership has a unique opportunity to redefine and reclaim that ethos. This opportunity is a long-term process requiring scholarship and research. It demands a reclaiming of catechetical roots and a clear call for a renewed a ministry of theologians and teachers who understand the church’s story. The Global South bishops have a window of grace as leaders who are faithful to the ancient story so as to shape and guide the future of Christian Formation in the Anglican Tradition. Seeking to reestablish a catechism for the 21st Century calls for a way of doing theology and formation that honors Scripture, Reason and Tradition in a 21st Century context that can be a reframing of measures tried and true by some of the great minds of the past. People such as; St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Augustine, Richard Hooker, who took the thought systems of their day and applied them to explain Christianity are the type of innovators needed. We need not simply to quote and refer to these great thinkers but to emulate them.

    Anglicans need to appropriate the intellectual systems of our day with a faith perspective, if the tradition is going to receive a contemporary understanding that gives witness globally.

    A viable Anglican catechism will allow for church leaders, lay and ordained to see with new eyes. To see anew the story of the church as it has been given to us and experience the rhythm of the church as it has living out an authentic catechetical theology. An authentic catechetical theology integrates biblical, sacramental, ecclesiological and historical theology in such a way that Anglicanism can find its path to:
    ·offer the truth of God’s grace and word to a lost culture
    ·invite people to a deeper spirituality
    ·Call people to a way of valuing that establishes the kingdom of God and a genuine experience of community. 

    A living viable Anglican Catechetical Theology has long been a factor the life of this church. This is so despite the fact that if most leaders were asked about it they would plead ignorance or dismiss the catechism as antiquated. There is an Anglican Catechetical Tradition that is rich and deep in the life of many in the Anglican Communion. However, Anglicans would rather boast being part of a church that does not speak in terms of doctrinal statements creating a slippery slope that has now created a huge divide.

    Archbishop McAdoo in his 1983 book entitled, The Unity of Anglicanism suggested that not only do Anglicans have a tradition that calls people to faith by virtue of our liturgy, but there is indeed a structure that claims what we believe and calls us to honor what we believe. These are found in the Thirty Nine Articles, Catechism, Creeds, Councils and Canons.  The challenge of this project is to create a theological casing that can make them accessible to the people who say they are part of this tradition. If those who are part of this great tradition have not been formed in the essentials, how can Anglicans expect those who are not part of the church to take them seriously?
    Anglican Catechetical Theology seeks to reclaim a lost consciousness, in a lost ecclesiology swallowed by a lost culture. Catechesis that forms and educates in the faith by examining the ancient questions of the faith with contemporary eyes, can help build the bridge between the Global South and the West as well as to the world. by offering an organic and systematic method in coming to the fullness of Christian life. A genuine catechetical theology seeks to offer an intentional and systematic effort to nurture the faith of adults, youth and children.  While it is important to addresses the lost opportunities of the past; it also essential to reclaim the opportunities of the present/future in the area of Anglican Catechesis and Global Identity.

  2. Michael Poon Says:

    Thank you, Dr Donion, for your encouraging words and advices.

    Michael Poon