A receding tide

Ado over theological education and certain tides afoot from the “reasserting” side of the fence lead to speculation over future generations of Anglican leadership. Looking at Bishop Duncan’s recent statements on reasserters’ failure to prevail and the Rev. Noll’s recommendation that Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and Nashotah House only accept students from North American Anglican churches no longer in Communion with Canterbury, one might wonder whether there’s a problem with leadership on that side of the fence. Anglican Scotist certainly thinks so:

It seems to me that with Abp. Akinola’s installation of Bp. Minns, we have witnessed the high tide of the realignment movement; its waters have begun to ebb back out to sea. For Abp. Williams has signalled–rather clearly for him–that he thinks they have overreached, and there is no Exodus of parishes and especially dioceses to CANA, which now appears to be merely the latest addition to the Anglican alphabet soup. Surely the tide may come back in–Minns & co. may somehow succeed in moving the realignment project significantly forward. But it seems to me the whole installation spectacle tarnishes their effectiveness as leaders in that movement, such that they join a growing list of other conservative Anglican leaders who have recently overreached.

So what’s an Anglican to do? First, with regard to the question of theological education, Robert S. Munday, dean of Nashotah House Theological Seminary responds to Noll:

I spoke recently with a leader in one of the new Anglican coalitions that have come into being. Referring to the fact that many of their clergy have attended an array of non-Anglican seminaries, he lamented, “when we come to make a decision about something that pertains to our Anglican identity, we find we are unable to reach a consensus, because very few of our priests have a common understanding of what the Anglican ethos is.” Is that the future we want for orthodox Anglicanism in North America?

Another commenter posits that the reason Trinity can’t attract postulants or retain faculty has to do with an identity crisis it seems to be having, wherein it “has no future in the Episcopal Church, and thus the name change. But it also cannot compete with Gordon-Conwell, Covenant, Fuller, Beeson, RTS, TEDS and so on within Evangelicalism. In other words, neither revisionists nor evangelical leaders consider it a real option.”

The dean search at Trinity is expected to be announced today. Stay tuned for more developments as we hear about them.

And one last thing: Mark Harris over at Preludium offers a broader summary of the issues around theological education, digesting it thus:

In just a few weeks we have seen:

1. A catechism on its way to being a Global South agenda for theological education,

2. An Anglican Communion vision of an Anglican Way for theological education.

3. The struggle in England for the future of theological education.

4. A statement in favor of similar education in the US for “a real church.”

Well, to return to the beginning of this essay, this is a mare’s nest of material and it only becomes more untidy by the day. The struggle for the future of theological education in the Anglican Communion is clearly related to the struggle for dominance being exercised by English evangelicals, their American counterparts and more worldwide by Anglicans informed more or less by Calvinist principles.

I have visited every seminary in the Episcopal Church except Bexley Hall and have found refreshment in every one. Over the years I have visited seminaries in Taiwan, the Philippines, Lebanon, Kenya, Uganda, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, Haiti and Puerto Rico. I was a student at The Episcopal Theological School (BDiv /MDiv) and The Episcopal Divinity School (DMin). In every place I found excitement and energy and more wonderfully both Anglican brothers and sisters and Christian fellow travelers (aka pilgrims). I have been influenced by them all. The breadth of Anglican theological work is quite amazing and delicious.

Secondly, with regard to leadership, Anglican Scotist puts forward what he feels will be the leader of the next chapter in a conflict that caught GetReligion’s attention this morning as “just getting started at the local level.” (Story on how that might be spun in the media from either perspective here.) To him, Archbishop Gomez of the West Indies has the right profile:

His recent trip to the Diocese of Central Florida for a speech to our clergy may confirm his willingness to provide leadership among conservatives, and he has not yet diminished his capacity by overreaching; indeed, he is an official part of the covenant-making process at Abp. Williams’ request.

Read the whole post here.

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