Circling the Wagons or Deepening the Pool?

An Anglican professor at a Ugandan theological college says Network bishops in the Episcopal Church are partly to blame for the crisis in the church because they have not supported the conservative seminaries with evangelically or “reasserter” candidates for holy orders.

The Rev. Stephen Noll, vice-chancellor and professor at Uganda Christian University, wrote a post in the blog “Stand Firm” called “An Open Letter on Theological Education to Network Bishops and Common Cause Partners USA,” recommending that Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and Nashotah House only accept students from Network dioceses and “Common Cause” jurisdictions, meaning Anglican churches no longer in Communion with Canterbury in North America.

Noll writes, “The Network and Common Cause dioceses and churches should commit themselves to require all candidates for ministry to get their degrees from Trinity or Nashotah or a REC seminary, or at least to attend for one year to instill in them a common Anglican ethos.”

In the first comment on the post, the chair of the board of Trinity School for Ministry, the Rev. Canon David Roseberry agreed saying, “At my first board meeting five years ago, the Trinity Board made a major policy change. We would openly and warmly welcomed students training for the AMiA, the REC, as well as ECUSA. Today we have TEC students, AMiA students, an occasional REC student and a few others from mainline denominations.”

Roseberry says in the comment that the Board of TESM has appointed the Rt. Rev. John Rodgers, a former Dean and professor of the school, as Interim Dean as the school conducts an international search for a new dean, since the departure of the Rev. Dr. Paul F. M. Zahl earlier this spring. Since Bishop Rodgers is a Missionary Bishop of the AMiA, this seems to indicate that the school is seeking to broaden its base beyond the Episcopal Church. The announcement has not appeared on the TESM website.

Both Roseberry and Noll claim that moderate and conservative Bishops send students to other Episcopal seminaries to be “rounded out” but complain that “revisionist” Bishops, as they call them, never send students these schools for the same broadening of perspective.

Noll’s main concern is that, without institutional support such as sending more students to these institutions, “ orthodox Anglicanism” will not “emerge as a real church like the Presbyterian Church in America (note, with its Covenant Seminary) and not just a welter of ‘continuing’ factions.”

Read the rest, including the numerous comments.

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