Vision for Clergy Education

I. Intro
Indulge me for a bit in a visionary exercise. What could clergy formation look like if we moved out of the residential seminary paradigm? How could we make it more effective? What might it look like? I offer a collection of related thoughts—by no means a fully conceptualized system—that would take a very Anglican/Episcopal approach to the problem. I submit it here for your thoughts and reflections, less for your agreement; more to prime your own thoughts about what the Church needs and will need from her clergy in the coming years and how theological education can provide it. This is my vision—what’s yours—and how can we build on them to reach what’s next (or what could be next)?

I begin from a set of 6 premises that I will upgrade to the state of being axiomatic.
1. Bishops are responsible for the seminarians and clergy of their dioceses.
2. The cathedral is intended to be the house of worship and spiritual center of a diocese.
3. Seminary student debt is a huge problem, especially for younger students.
4. Seminaries are having financial difficulties, lacking the endowment income and denominational support to substantially reduce tuition costs.
5. The Internet and associated distance learning technologies have the capacity to revolutionize how education content is communicated.
6. The best clergy formation is a balance of academic learning, practical experience and liturgical formation.

Has anyone wondered recently what the Church did before seminaries existed? Think about it–the whole seminary model is a relatively recent phenomenon. St Peter didn’t go to one; neither did Benedict, Bede, or Cranmer. That’s not to say they didn’t get educated, it’s just to say that our current model isn’t the only viable one out there.

In the early medieval church, clergy and clergy-to-be were made members of the bishop’s household. There were nine ecclesiastical grades through which a priest-in-training progressed and the canons stipulated that the ninth–priest–could not be attained before the age of 30. (Our transitional diaconate is the last remaining vestige of this system and that is about to go the way of the dodo from what I hear…) As a result, someone wanting to be a priest properly had to spend a fair amount of time hanging around the bishop and the bishop’s court in order to become a priest. Priestly learning came from a combination of academic learning from the cathedral school, observing priests and other ministers in action, and participating in the on-going quotidian life of the cathedral.

My suggestion is a return to the core strategies of this system. The heart of the vision is to intentionally and clearly place mimesis or education through imitation and modeling at the center of the educational process That is, postulants and aspirants would no longer go to a seminary “place” but would, instead, attach themselves to their cathedral and would serve the bishop and diocese directly. Academic learning would still necessarily remain a part of this process, but its place would be different from what it is now; it would be placed in direct relation to its practical and theoretical applications in combination with the rota of the liturgical life of a cathedral. I shall now flesh out this brief outline by focusing on particular aspects of the formation process.

II. Liturgical Formation
My occasional and hardly scientific survey of local cathedrals reveals that most of them serve as little more than over-sized churches, liturgically speaking; the Sunday morning paradigm remains dominant. Location-wise, many of them are located in downtown areas of major metropolitan areas. These days few of the faithful live in the neighborhood—but a certain number work in the neighborhood. I propose that cathedrals return to their classical rota with modifications for our age and situation.

Cathedrals would offer Morning Prayer, a noon Mass, Evening Prayer, and an evening Mass (perhaps the Sunday evening service could be a Solemn Evensong). These services would be timed for the convenience of the business people who live and work in the surrounding environs and would be staffed and run primarily by the aspirants (Using that as a general term to replace “seminarians”; I know it has a technical meaning smaller in scope from this use but…bear with me.). [And yes, I’m using Smokey Mary as a conscious model here with both the selection of services and their timing…] They would serve as the acolytes, the servers, would lead the Offices, and the second and third year aspirants would assist the priests in delivering the homilies at the Masses (perhaps as often as once a week per aspirant). Even if they served no other function in the service, they would be expected to vest and sit in the choir. Naturally, they would also assist at Sunday and Holy Day services.

The liturgical pedagogy would therefore be a matter of observation and kinesthetic repetition. Worshiping day in and day out with a gathered community in the traditional Anglican forms would not only aid their theological, liturgical, and biblical studies–for the discipline of the Offices and Mass bolsters these–but would ingrain within the aspirants their principle role of leading the people of God in the worship of God.

So that they might experience a variety of liturgical styles, second and third year students might attend and/or serve in a variety of parishes within the diocese as directed. Perhaps a semester or year-long Sunday placement in a particular parish in the second year might be beneficial.

III. Diocesan Responsibilities
I propose that Dioceses cut their staff by two-thirds across the board (this would vary a bit based on number of staff and allocations, of course). The aspirants would then fill in on a rotating basis, cycling between various committees or areas of work in increments stretching from months to years depending on interest, aptitude, and growing edges. Guided by experienced personnel, they would assist in all stages of diocesan planning and administration in addition to answering phones and scrubbing toilets.

As a result of their work, they would gain a sense of just what diocesan officials can and cannot accomplish. They would develop a feel for the strengths and weaknesses of their local situation. Too, they would get to know the clergy and parishes across the diocese through daily interaction as they seek to implement diocesan goals.

In addition to diocese level projects, senior students could also work on convocation level projects that would bring aspirants from several neighboring dioceses together to concentrate on regional problems.

While some readers might feel hesitant about unleashing complete newbies on the diocese, I will remind you that the seminarians of today are unlike those of twenty or thirty years ago. Many are second-career people entering from the business world. A blend of energy, new perspectives, and corporate experience might be more of an asset than a liability to the diocese despite the inevitable complications. (Besides, non-profits tend to have a fairly high turnover rate anyway—I don’t know if the same is true for dioceses but I wouldn’t be surprised. If so, this amount of turnover might not be a real change.)

IV. Academic Preparation
The various tasks of administering the diocese, running workshops for clergy, advancing developmental goals, and conducting business period would be the context for the academic studies. Instead of occurring in a university model that privileges ideas and often lacks connection to application, application would take a front seat.

Specific learning projects would take place in service of various practical goals. For instance, a group of aspirants and permanent staff might be charged with developing a curriculum for a major diocesan youth event. The group might spend a period of four months planning in conjunction with a professor of Christian education at the Austin seminary and a professor of biblical studies at General, communicating view the Internet and distance learning tools like video conferencing and such. A variety of research projects grounding various aspects of the project would be collected and hosted in a central data repository like the Rev. Dr. AKMA’s Disseminary. Video files of selected presentations or portions could also be uploaded along with post-event analyses by the planning group, the faculty directors and the participants themselves (for projects where there are participants…). The diocese would pay a fee to the professor’s seminary for the time and expertise given to the project.

In addition to these projects that would grow directly from diocesan needs, certain core academic competencies would still be satisfied through coursework. Biblical studies, languages, and Patristics in particular might well require more traditional classes albeit taught through distance learning, collaborative blogging and other technological strategies to minimize the problem of geography. Of course, students from different diocese could participate in the classes at the same time enabling extra diocesan connections to form.

In addition to specific academic projects, a limited number of more traditional academic courses, CPE would not only continue to be required but would hopefully be expanded. For those not in the business, CPE is short for Clinical Pastoral Education. It consists of a student putting in 300 hours of direct pastoral care usually as a hospital chaplain-in-training with an additional 100 hours of group processing and group didactics with six to eight other students, and one-on-one meetings with the supervisor. This is usually completed during an emotionally grueling full-time summer unit of 3 months; it’s like an extended live-fire drill–but for spiritual care. Currently, one unit is required by the national canons. The usual one unit could be completed in one of the hospitals within the diocesan boundaries, but I would also like to see an additional extended unit (so the 400 hours would be spread over 9 months) in a community or non-traditional setting like a homeless shelter, rehab program, or other non-profit service organization.

V. The Bishop’s Role
Because the aspirants would be in the geographical area, serving in the cathedral, and intimately related with diocesan functions, bishops could and would take a more active role with their aspirants–after all, the aspirants would be important members of the bishop’s staff. In addition to usual work-related meetings and such, Chapter would be reinstated. Twice a week, an hour and a half (or so) would be set aside for the bishop to meet with the aspirants to discuss in community–well, most anything–so that the bishop could get to know and follow the progress of the aspirants.

Ideally, one of these would take place on Monday or Tuesday and would be involve the translation and discussion of the Gospel pericope for the upcoming Sunday. The bishop, the aspirants, and any member of the bishop’s staff who would be preaching the following Sunday will have a jump on the week’s work and such discussions would inevitably touch on a host of areas beyond exegesis–theology, pastoral care, life in general would filter in. The aspirants would see their bishop and senior staff modeling how to read and reflect theologically on our central texts.

Through these meetings, the bishop would learn each of the aspirants, and would guide their development. While the aspirants would receive the inevitable liturgical and the limited required academic program, the bishop would be responsible for assigning aspirants to various committees or projects to round them out or focus them to develop their skills for ministry.

This direction would be supplemented and checked by the diocesan Commission on Ministry. Since the bishop would already be in close contact with the aspirants, the traditional “letter home” on the Ember Days could be replaced by meetings with the Commission on Ministry that would serve as a third-party observer to make sure that aspirants are receiving well-rounded formation.

VI. Seminaries
Under this model, seminaries would still exist but would have an altered role. Professors would still be teaching students on a regular basis in the core curriculum classes and in diocesan projects. The students just would not be residential. If anything, professors might well interact with more students than under the current model, but for shorter lengths of time.

Locating professors together in an academic environment would still be important. Academic work occurs best in an academic environment. The seminaries would maintain libraries and resource centers. The line between libraries, research centers, and even IT would blur, however, as dissemination of data, digitization of rare or unique resources, collection of Internet resources, and the identification of pertinent blog clusters (like bibliobloggers, for example) would be their main role. Again, the Disseminary represents a prototype of what this could look like.

In essence, the physical environment of the seminary would shift to more of a think-tank model than the current residential university model. That having been said, the seminaries may well continue to offer advanced degrees for more or less residential students.

With the decrease of residential students, seminary structures and the use of space would need to be reconsidered. Current student housing could be converted into rental/apartment properties as an additional source of income (I’m thinking in particular of buildings like General’s 422–spacious rooms in a very high-rent area…).

VII. Advantages
There are a variety of advantages to this particular proposal. Returning to the six axioms stated above, three and four are both financial. The financial implications have not been fully drawn out in the above sections, so let me say a few words about them here. Under this model, aspirants would not have to move to a different area of the country, displacing families and disrupting spouse careers. Furthermore, they would not have to pay tuition. The main financial burden would be that they would not be able to engage in full-time work. However, part-time work would still fall within the realm of possibilities, and this model might even be able to be tweaked to encourage bivocational clergy.

According to my current envisioning of this process, the diocese would not pay the aspirants for their work. The savings from diocesan staff costs would be redirected towards the seminaries as payments for project assistance. This would, in turn, offset some of the seminary costs from the loss of tuition dollars. The conversion of current student housing to rental properties would also help to offset this loss.

I’ll just say right now that I haven’t run the numbers on this and have no idea if this financial juggling would work or not.

Imitation of worthy models, the bishop, the senior diocesan staff, and the senior clergy of the diocese encountered throughout the course of work, would be at the forefront of this model. Furthermore, actual work on practical projects would emphasize the administrative skills needed to order ecclesial communities and would help reify and provide an on-the-ground context for academic learning that, in isolation, can seem far removed from parish and diocesan realities.

This model should also help dioceses in their hiring decisions. Clergy would get to know the aspirants, their strengths and weaknesses, because they would have a much higher visibility around the diocese. They would be working in and around the parishes, rather than living several states away.

VIII. Disadvantages
There are a number of disadvantages to this system too–some because it’s more an off-the-cuff envisioning than a full-fleshed out proposal.

One complaint could be that it puts too much emphasis on the bishop. Do we really want a bishop to have so much influence in the formation of future clergy? I, for one, would certainly like to hope so. If we’re concerned about this point, maybe we need to think long and hard about our bishoping process. However, in these days of division and power politics, it is entirely possible that aspirants could find themselves at odds theologically with their bishop. This is one of the reasons why I have suggested that the aspirants meet with the Commission on Ministry so much–they may provide a check against bishops who insist to much on one line of thought–whatever that might be.

An additional check that I thought of including was that all aspirants must have a spiritual director…of a different denomination. And therefore outside of the bishop’s jurisdiction. The spiritual director would report to the Commission on Ministry about the aspirant’s readiness for ministry separately from the bishop. Since the Commission on Ministry, not the bishop, is the body that both admits aspirants to the process and certifies their readiness for ordination, a theologically sensitive (and hopefully diverse) Commission could mitigate the bishop’s power to a degree.

I also realize that I have spoken here as if a diocese only has one bishop. Most don’t, of course. Coadjutors, Suffragans and Retired Bishops could all play a role here too.

Finances are another problem. First, I haven’t run the numbers to see if this scheme would actually work. Second, the aspirants wouldn’t have to displace their families and their families’ jobs nor pay tuition, but living expenses are often the kicker more so than tuition costs. Loans might still be necessary for some–but that requires being in school full-time. Aspirants might have to be more formally associated with a seminary than suggested up to this point.

And seminaries comes to another issue: accreditation. What would be a result of this process? Graduation in three years with an MDiv? I’m not so sure… I doubt that this kind of curriculum would meet accreditation requirements required to certify an MDiv program. The real goal, though, is to produce effective educated clergy, not people with Master’s degrees. That having been said, if a priest educated under this system wanted to go on for doctoral work, how would it be received by PhD programs?

IX. Summary
I’m suggesting a new paradigm quite different from what we have now. Some of the problems that I have noted exist because this paradigm is entrenched. Breaking it free might give rise to more and different options.

As I said at the beginning and throughout–this is an experimental vision. It’s an attempt to kick-start thinking about clergy formation that works outside of the seminary box. Things are going to be changing. The Internet, distance learning, blogging, and technologies that we don’t even have yet have the potential to reconfigure our approach to education. The future will revel itself in its own good time.

What are your thoughts?

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13 Responses to Vision for Clergy Education

  1. bls says:

    I’ve only just read through quickly, but I’d say it’s very good. Of course, I love the proposal of an accessible-to-working-people daily round of prayer. I don’t think people know anymore how spiritually beneficial this can be, and it would be so great to have this available in every Cathedral and large parish.

    I would like to propose one more thing, though: can some of these “aspirants” come out to the parishes, individually, from time to time, to become involved with the lay membership? To give – I don’t know – presentations on theological topics, or workshops on the Daily Office, or even just find out what people are doing and what we would like to do? We are so disconnected from one another, even in the Northeast where parishes are close together. We need to find a way to make people feel part of a bigger thing than I think we all do now.

    We should have a Church website for national and international interaction like that, too, BTW.

  2. Derek the Ænglican says:

    Definitely, bls. My vision has the aspirants interacting with many parishes in the diocese. I would think that good diocesan programs would want to be educating and connect local parishes–but you’re right, it doesn’t seem to happen as much as it could.

  3. LutherPunk says:

    Derek – a few thoughts…by no means exhaustive. I think you are off to a good start.

    1.Bishops are responsible for the seminarians and clergy of their dioceses.

    I think this sounds like a wonderful idea, in theory. The truth is, under the current system, I rarely saw the Bishops who served while I was going through candidacy (thought the second Bishop was much more active in the process). More contact I think is essential. With that said, I am not sure about the feasibility of this proposal, as Bishops tend to spend so much time “putting out fires”. There would have to be a system where by the Bishop’s support staff was strengthened in order to deal with this.

    2. The cathedral is intended to be the house of worship and spiritual center of a diocese.

    Yeah, we just have office suites in the ELCA. Don’t get me started…

    Though, in principal, I think you are on to something. We need to see our Bishops (regardless of denomination) as a chief pastor again, rather than as an administrator or as someone to always be suspicious of. For Lutherans, this is tough because an office suite smacks of a “job” while a cathedral at least projects the image of a cleric.

    3. Seminary student debt is a huge problem, especially for younger students.

    No kidding!!!! And the only way to remedy this (IMHO) is to change the model of education. I happen to like the English way of doing education, which involved far less “classes” at a graduate level and far more interactive learning through seminars and research. I think seminaries have something to learn from that model.

    4. Seminaries are having financial difficulties, lacking the endowment income and denominational support to substantially reduce tuition costs.

    Yep, see above.

    5. The Internet and associated distance learning technologies have the capacity to revolutionize how education content is communicated.

    Yes they do, though not always for the best. I fear that too much “distance education” especially in theological education, can be detrimental. We have far too many Lone Wolves roaming around out in parishes, and this leads to all sorts of problems. If not used properly, internet based education can reinforce this already dangerous trap.

    With that said, I think if we have people working in learning cohorts and using the internet, where classes were reinforced with a great deal of interaction (be it through retreats, short residential periods, etc.) then there is an opportunity for growth.

    6. The best clergy formation is a balance of academic learning, practical experience and liturgical formation.

    What I missed most was liturgical formation. I feel like the seminary I attended did a decent job in the academic area, though they really need to raise the bar on language requirements. I worked at a parish 2 of my 3 years as well, so I feel I got a good feel for work end of it. What I needed was Morning and Evening Prayer, and possibly daily Eucharist, to help integrate head and heart.

    Other comments:

    Yes, every one should be required to take at least one unit of CPE, and preferably more. Maybe one unit at the end of each academic year…of course, that would be grueling. My one unit was enough to make me want to quit ministry at first.

    Quite honestly, I don’t really see accreditation as an issue. Training is a matter that is internal for each respective ecclesial structure. The ATS is big and cumbersome, and even within its member schools, the quality of education greatly varies. I think that churches, perhaps in conversation with ecumenical partners, can construct effective programs apart from the university model that we are using now. I know a lot of folks with seminary degrees who don’t have a pastoral bone in their body.

    Finally, I think that while residential programs have their limits, I don’t think we can ever really get away from that. At least, I have a hard time seeing it. Maybe the RC’s and their diocesesan seminaries are as close as the Church can ever get.

  4. D. C. says:

    Very well thought out, Derek. A good friend of mine from the parish is off to seminary, and suggested, seemingly seriously, that I go too; if the system were as you described, I might seriously consider it.

  5. Derek the Ænglican says:

    lp,
    Yeah–I was thinking as I was writing that this might not work so well for other denominations. As you well know, the official Lutheran position is that the bishop is a pastor who has a special administrative role.

    As for your specific points…

    1. You know, I only saw my bishop once the entire five years I was a candidate for orders in the Lutheran church. Maybe that did have a certain formational effect on me… This is where the other bishops of a diocese might also help out, though. Episcopal diocese tend to have at least two or three around. As I said–I need to work out their place better.

    3. The English system informs this to a certain degree as you no doubt suspect.

    6. I never knew quite how important this was until I saw it in practice at General. There is no substitute for this in my book.

    Conversely I know some great pastors with few academic bones… Now, I still believe strongly in an educated clergy but for some the book-learnin’ just isn’t going to help them much and they’re better off doing what they already do best and absorbing the academics that they can.

    D.C.
    Thanks!

  6. Lutheran Zephyr says:

    Derek,

    Thanks for putting your suggestions out there. I like the broad idea of what your suggesting, but I raise a few questions about how realistic such a model would be.

    We DO need a model of ministry preparation that involves much more “apprenticeship.” However, I’m not sure that the Bishop is the best model for future priests. The bishop is primarily an administrator (and fundraiser!)and may not have been in the parish for years (how many bishops are called to the office of bishop from other administrative jobs? Quite a few, I imagine). Of course, that is also the problem with many of our seminaries – many of our professors have been estranged from the parish for years, too. That is why our ministry formation system needs to include qualified, successful pastors as mentors in the process.

    Also, I’m a Lutheran who loves liturgy, but I’m not convinced it has much pedagogical value. Liturgy is part of the church’s ministry and part of the way that faith and Christians are formed, but I’m not sure that it would be as effective a formation tool as you suggest. I’m not convinced that is has significant educational value.

    I imagine that the quality of liturgy and liturgical experience varies greatly from cathedral to cathedral, and I wonder what it would be like for the aspirants to lead four daily liturgies in nearly empty cathedrals. I imagine young priests-to-be performing rituals and liturgies to empty buildings, and in doing so they learn that the rituals themselves are of value, regardless of whether anyone is there to participate in and benefit from them.

    By spreading out the number of aspirants from a smaller number of centralized seminaries to a larger number of dioceses, you greatly reduce the “real,” in-person community of aspirants. You could wind up with dioceses that have only a small handful or even a single aspirant. Such lonliness in a process of identity and ministry formation is not ideal. Also, the quality of the ministry preparation process would vary significantly between synods/dioceses. Right now, the bulk of the process is controled by a small number of seminaries. Spreading out that process among a much larger number of diocese would inevitably increase the variability of the quality of the process.

    Finally, the seminaries would take a huge hit once their role in the process is diminished. Donors like to give to seminaries because seminaries train and equip pastor/priests-in-training. Where do I make a financial gift in the less-centralized process you suggest?

    Thanks for your thoughts. We do need a process that includes much more mentoring and experiential learning, and your suggestions are a good start for conversation on this topic . . .

  7. Derek the Ænglican says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, lutheran zephyr. A few comments…

    The bishop is primarily an administrator (and fundraiser!)and may not have been in the parish for years (how many bishops are called to the office of bishop from other administrative jobs? Quite a few, I imagine). Of course, that is also the problem with many of our seminaries – many of our professors have been estranged from the parish for years, too. That is why our ministry formation system needs to include qualified, successful pastors as mentors in the process.

    As I said, my inspiration was the early medieval model where the bishop was essentially the pastor of a megachurch with assistants–his priests. As Christianity grew in a region, so did “satellite churches”; the bishop would put his helpers there and visit when he could. These satellites became the local parish churches of the diocese. The bishop was the main priest of the diocese, thus, there are liturgical rites that only he can do–not the other priests (his assistants). The Roman and Anglican churches still maintain aspects of this view of the bishop. The Lutheran church doesn’t. My question is–why aren’t bishops “qualified, successful pastors”? Shouldn’t they be? If we have concerns about a certain person’s ability to mentor and lead clergy should we really elect them as our bishop?

    Also, I’m a Lutheran who loves liturgy, but I’m not convinced it has much pedagogical value. Liturgy is part of the church’s ministry and part of the way that faith and Christians are formed, but I’m not sure that it would be as effective a formation tool as you suggest. I’m not convinced that is has significant educational value.

    In short, zephyr–this is why you’re Lutheran and I’m not… I am firmly convinced of the pedagogical, mystagogical, and formational power of the liturgy. The liturgy is the preeminent place where we encounter the Risen Lord–particularly in the Eucharist. As with any transformation process, it does require an openness to transformation; someone just phoning it in or going through the motions won’t necessarily be affected by it. Nevertheless, what you repeat over and over makes an impression, concious or not. I bet if we got D.C. saying the creeds three to five times a day, every day, by the end of three years we’d have ourselves a Trinitarian… :-D

    I imagine that the quality of liturgy and liturgical experience varies greatly from cathedral to cathedral, and I wonder what it would be like for the aspirants to lead four daily liturgies in nearly empty cathedrals. I imagine young priests-to-be performing rituals and liturgies to empty buildings, and in doing so they learn that the rituals themselves are of value, regardless of whether anyone is there to participate in and benefit from them.

    Again, this reflects a major difference in our theology of liturgy. The prayer and praise of the whole church is unending even if the whole body of Christians is not present. I’ve often attended services in a huge church where there have been under ten people. Didn’t bother me a bit… Instead, it reinforced the notion that when two or three or gathered, so too is our Lord. Fidelity to the call for continual praise of God is a theological decision. In the end, it doesn’t matter how many people are physically present–any act of the church’s worship is always an addition to the unceasing chorus of praise before the throne of God. At the root of it, the question is this: for whom do we do the liturgy? Is it primarily for the congregation’s edification? If so, then you’re right–there’s no point in doing it without a big crowd. Is it for the service of God? Then it doesn’t matter how many people are there, the important thing is that it goes on and that the faithful of the diocese who can’t be there physically know that it’s going on.

    Finally, the seminaries would take a huge hit once their role in the process is diminished. Donors like to give to seminaries because seminaries train and equip pastor/priests-in-training. Where do I make a financial gift in the less-centralized process you suggest?

    This is an excellent question and I don’t have an answer for it. Like I said, I haven’t played with the numbers to see if I can make them work. ;-)

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  8. Father Basil says:

    Interesting ideas. Certainly there is a need to reduce debt among seminarians, to bring seminarians into better relationships with their bishops, and to make preparation for ministry more experiential. However, I wonder about pulling too far away from the classroom. It seems to me that one of the biggest problems in both Canada and ECUSA is the lack of theological leadership. We have no NT Wright, no Rowan Williams. And some of ECUSA’s seminaries are notorious for being light or (worse) airy-fairy in terms of theological training.

    Likewise, this model keeps people from having the daily interaction with people from around the church that comes in a seminary setting. In the best of cases, this means not just interaction with Anglicans from one’s own church but from around the Communion. I fear that this would disappear if people are too tied to their dioceses.

    Finally, you mention the need for reducing seminary debt for the rising number of younger people going into training to become priests, yet you also say that having green newbies working in most of the functions of the diocese will be ok because so many of them are second career people. Isn’t there an inherant contradiction in this? Besides which, what happens in small dioceses where a large number of aspirants present themselves? How would the diocese get them employed? How would the diocese pay for it?

    Just a few of my worry wart thoughts. In general, I like the fact that you’re thinking about these things. We could certainly use some kind of sea change.

    peace,

    Basil+

    PS
    Is there any way to entice you into blogging some about your feelings on CCM? I’m very curious to read your thoughts on the subject.

  9. *Christopher says:

    derek,

    I like parts of this very much, and I would wish that it could be interwoven with seminary perhaps in a multiple model of how to educate our worship leaders and pastors.

    Let me first say, however, as a layman in advanced theological study and who has parish training, that I fear this model would reduce the possibility of the likes of me, and we need more, not less educated laypersons who have had academic and parish experience. This really sets up a greater possibility for clericalism as persons who are decidedly lay would not have access to the types of parish training that I received as an MDiv student. Indeed, looking back, my choice to “enhance” my MDiv with MA work was a wise choise as I received rigourous academics and parish training necessary for any good liturgist.

    I appreciate the necessity of regular liturgical training found in parish/cathedral settings as well as the pastoral training which seminary cannot itself provide.

    Second, having seen how bishop’s offices work, I’m skeptical. Much about politics and image, too little about Daily Office and doing the primary shepherding and pastoral work of bishop. I do think however that more interaction between the cathedral and its surrounds through regular Office is a fine thing. Grace does this well imho. Also, we do need courses in administration, and this would be one way to provide it. I’ve suggested at the sem where I work that I teach a course in parish administration 101, for example. Remember, I see my administrative work as a part of my ministry, and I wish more pastors and bishops did as well.

    Third, the data is changing. Most now entering sems here at least at the GTU are newbies, not second career people. Many of the folks I deal with have never held a job as of yet–and it shows…

    Long-distance learning should be an option as long as the rigour is comparable.

    As for thoughts on how liturgy forms us, you say it well. I might add, though you’d know this better than I, that Luther saw liturgy as formative. Luther was quite catholic on that matter. It’s a shame that Lutherans have sometimes lost touch with this.

    Fr. Basil,

    I’m one-half of a Called to Common Mission household, and I must say that CCM is showing itself in some quite wonderful ways here at the sems. Now C, being German Lutheran was quite hesitant, but CCM has grown on him. Frankly, Lutherans gave up more than we did with regard to polity changes, but I think it’ll have positive long-term effects. Not to mention, I’ve come to appreciate Lutheran theological rigour and concern for justification more fully. I know LP may be wondering about that rigour but it exists. Just yesterday, I had a good conversation with the liturgy prof. It would seem we’re both in the “reaction” to the latest plans for renewing worship, as are many of the younger students. It seems the cycle may be shifting and assessment of liturgical renewal in its various shifts is underway.

  10. D. C. says:

    Derek writes: Nevertheless, what you repeat over and over makes an impression, concious or not. I bet if we got D.C. saying the creeds three to five times a day, every day, by the end of three years we’d have ourselves a Trinitarian… :-D

    Quite possibly. But that still wouldn’t make the creeds true (or false). That’s why, when it comes to decisions of consequence, we don’t rely on the sheer numbers of believers, but on evidentiary standards.

    (BTW Derek, your comments configuration is set up so that only Blogger subscribers can post. I’ve got a Blogger account and so can log in to post, but I don’t maintain a blog on the Blogger system, and anyone clicking on my name won’t go anywhere interesting.)

  11. Fr. John says:

    derek,

    This is fascinating. Thank you. Most of the problems I see with your suggestions are logistical, and not insurmountable. Consider, though, that for some of our dioceses, centering one’s studies at the cathedral would require relocating. There is only one cathedral in the entire state of North Dakota, for example!

    My main substantive concern is that I do not see anything in your suggestions that includes theologia proper as understood by the Greek Fathers – contemplation as direct quasi-experience of God. Formation in the life of prayer can not be taken for granted, and requires more than having a spiritual director. In my experience as a parish priest, it is the one necessary thing, the better part we must choose. And it is the part given short shrift in much seminary education today.

    christopher – I don’t see anything that would necessarily exclude lay formation as part of this cathedral based model – in fact, it would increase lay liturgical leadership as officiants at the daily office. At least, I don’t think it would be inherently more clerical than the current model.

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