Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fr. Nalls et al on clergy education

The Rev. Charles Nalls, SSM , The Rev. Mr. Jason Dechenne, SSM, and The Rev. Richard Sutter, SSM have written a paper about clergy education, a subject we have discussed here .

From the beginning of the traditional or “continuing” movement, the question of a qualified, educated and well-formed clergy has been most problematic. Untrained, poorly trained and/or poorly formed deacons, priests and elect have caused difficulties in evangelization and, indeed, simply maintaining existing parishes. A proliferation of unaccredited or specious seminaries, as well as the willingness of men to “train” in these entities, has cast the movement into further disrepute. Even in instances in which continuing Anglican bodies have attempted organic seminaries, results have been inconsistent and the popular image is one of the “diploma mill.”

This paper proffers some suggestions for remedying the formation-education crisis in a cost and time effective manner, using existing, accredited educational sources.

The rest of this paper is available by clicking here.


poetreader said...

I had considered posting this myself, not because I like it (I don't), but because it does contain a lot that needs to be considered. I'm not going to comment in detail. I haven't studied the report enough to do that yet. The questions raised as to the problematic level of both education and spiritual/liturgical/pastoral formation are things that need to be considered. but I think the report is needlessly hard on the Continum as such. These problems are endemic to the state of Christianity, "orthodox" or not. The seminaries now existing are not doing either job well either, and the number of thoroughly unfit clergy in every denomination is a scandal indeed.

The paper does rather well on diagnosis, but what does it offer for solutions? Frankly, all I see is the same old same old. Accreditation by bodies that have long since proven they have not real spiritual standards on which to accredit a seminary. Residential programs that separate the candidates from the ongoing life of the church without providing the pseudo-monastic atmosphere by which the residence is justified. Learning in touch with scholars, perhaps intelletually solid (and perhaps not), but out of touch with the ministry that will be undertaken.

OK, you get the idea of where my prejudices lie. I'm firmly convinced that the move from the earlier practice of forming and training clergy under godly mentors in the midst of the work, to the seminary system has, over time, led to precisely the situation we have - "liberal" scholars who no longer understand the people rather than godly pastors, and I am convinced that this is a major reason of the collapse of Western Christianity in our age.

So what would I advocate? I don't know, but try this for starters: first, before even starting to think about HOW to train clergy, what the systems and procedures should be, we need to give some real thought as to WHAT needs to be learned and experienced. Is it enough that a priest be "learned"? Is there any degree of mere knowledge that can fit him for such a responsibility? While we, of course need scholars in the Church, that role is indisputably necessary, is it important that every pastor be a scholar? Not every scholarly type will fit to be a pastor. How do we train a man in the life of prayer, in the compassionate sharing of the sacraments, in the practical counsel our people need? These are the questions I don't see as being addressed well here.

I hope this paper open a real discussion, but I hope and pray that its actual recommendations be taken with a grain of salt and serve to provoke deeper thought.

This was going to be a mere sentence or two, but I got a bit carried away. I'll quit.


Anselm Lewis said...


My own ideas. There really needs to be a solution of a larger scale. one thing i think is to unite the other Continuum bodies under one umbrella. that would help alot

Albion Land said...

Two initial comments:

1. I am inclined to agree with what Ed has said here; in particular, it would seem to me that the authors have skimmed over the fundamental question of just what academic and professional formation we want in the continuing movement and, instead, jumped straight into identifying schools that provide something that may or may not fit the bill.

2. Unless I missed it, there is not a single mention of the fact that the continuing movement already has a seminary, in the APCK's St Joseph of Arimathea. Why the silence? The last thing the ACC or anyone else needs to do is reinvent the wheel. What needs to be done is reaching an agreement with St Joseph's to allow non APCK-postulants to attend/work from a distance.

The Auld MacLaren said...

There is, of course, the Scott School of Theology in the ACC Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic States, which was profiled at some length in the latest issue of The Trinitarian.

It is clearly no satisfactory subsititute for the traditional 3-4 year immersion experience, but it meets a real and present need for priests....

Anonymous said...


Perhaps St. Joseph was not mentioned due to the history of the ACA, Deerfield Beach, etc. I have seen enough comments on this very blog to know that hard feelings and bitterness exist among the continuing jurisdictions. Is St. Joseph even an option for an ACA postulant? Doubtful. I'd be interested to find out how many UECNA and ACC postulants have gone to St. Joseph since the UECNA, ACC and ACPK have come to their understanding?

BigTex AC

Albion Land said...

Howdy Tex,

As far as ACA goes, sadly, you may be right for the moment.

You do ask a very valid question, though, about ACC and UECNA, and perhaps someone from St Joseph's, or APCK, can answer. It would be hard to understand if anyone from either jurisdiction were rejected out of hand because of their provenance, but perhaps no one has even applied.

Albion Land said...

I think I recall one of our readers commenting to me offline once that Fr Sutter is himself seeking to found a seminary. I am not sure that he is among our readership but, if not, could anyone shed any light on that?

Michael said...

Although I agree with my brothers in the SSM that some attention must be paid to clerical education in the continuum, I have some concerns about the conclusions of this study.

I feel that the study focuses too much on the accreditation, or the degrees offered, and not on the spiritual formation of the clergy. Many evangelical churches train clergy in training colleges that do not offer degrees at all, but still require several years of full time study, including community life under a rule, ministry assignments, supervised spiritual formation, as well as Biblical and theological studies. I might have concerns about the theology, but certainly no more concern than with many seminaries!

Secondly, one of the greatest needs we have in the continuing movement is to restore and preserve the Anglican heritage. If we have clergy who are well educated in Evangelical or Roman theology, but are not so well educated in Anglican theology and history, or well formed in Anglican liturgy, then we still have a serious problem.

Finally, the report doesn't really address the most serious reason why the continuing movement has problems with education - few young vocations (or young people period), primarily older men with families who can't relocate, or study full time. Also, many of the options presented are very expensive; they are certainly beyond my means.

My own recommendation would be that the continuing Anglican movement join together to administer a seminary which will set on a path (however long term) towards full accreditation (or association with an established university). Students, even those who were completing academic work elsewhere, could be members of the seminary. Residence would not be requied, but would be offered as an option. The seminary could be situated on land with adaquate room for retreats, and also for singles or families seeking a monastic form of life.

Another recommendation for Americans:

If you have to relocate for theological study anyway, consider coming to Canada. Most schools here are significantly less expensive than in the United States, even for foreign students. Two Catholic options in Ottawa, Ontario are worth considering.

Dominican University Colege in Ottawa offers excellent programs in philosophy and theology, a residential life for single men (in a religious house); the instruction is generally fairly conservative, and of good quality.

Another option is the Eastern Christian Studies degree at St. Paul University (also in Ottawa). Although St. Paul has a reputation for being extremely liberal, this particular seminary program (run by the Ukrainian Catholic Church, also featuring Eastern Orthodox profs) offers a world class formation in liturgy, church history, and patristics, as well as pastoral formation.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Michael, in particular about the Continuing Anglican seminary (residential or 'virtual') of which all postulants should be members regardless of where they are taking their degree. We desperately need to make sure that any training offered by other-denominational or non-denominational schools is supplemented by training in our own tradition.

RSC+ said...

This may sound like heretical nonsense, but I've found Candler School of Theology's Anglican Studies Program a fine program thus far. I'm nearly finished with my first year. It notably allows for three full years' serving in a parish; I currently serve at St. Stephens Pro-Cathedral in Athens. Although it is a Methodist seminary, parish placement cures many of the problems one may encounter there. Fr. Jones, who occasionally posts comments here, is my supervisor. Candler is, of course, accredited, and they offer numerous scholarships.

I'll be able to offer a better synopsis in a few years once I've graduated, but I've found the ability to learn Methodist, Episcopal, and other Protestant arguments invaluable. It's mostly facilitated my ability to argue against them. Going to Emory, it must be stressed, requires constant vigilance on the part of the student. It has great resources,including the second largest theological library in the country, but I have to filter out a lot of nonsense. You will, for example, encounter the awful term "Godself" at gender-neutral Candler.

The school currently has an Aquinas specialist, Dr. Philip K. Reynolds, who also works in the Graduate Division of Religion; he's a Melkite Catholic and a member of St. John Chrysostom's in Atlanta. Candler's Augustine specialist is Lewis Ayres, who has a book coming out entitled Augustine's Trinitarian Theology. Luke Timothy Johnson teaches the intro New Testament courses. He's of course a liberal Roman Catholic, but one of the few well-reputed seminary professors who supports traditional dates of the Gospels and authorships of the Epistles. Dr. David L.Petersen teaches Old Testament. He's Presbyterian, but I have to give him credit for providing a very neutral guide to Old Testament scholarship and excellent training in the various means to read Scripture.

The school requires neither Greek nor Hebrew. Before you faint, keep in mind that not requiring it means the only folks taking it are people who care about learning it. That in of itself is a gem.

I cannot praise the three years of parish work enough. Most other seminaries only offer a year or less. For what it's worth, Candler Episcopal students do better on their General Ordination Exams than do students at Episcopal seminary. Whether that speaks highly of Candler or poorly of Episcopal seminaries is open to debate.

Anonymous said...

I will probably be the minority here, but I feel ministers who are not at root well-rounded in their theological education are liabilities and not assets. Without detracting from the oft-stated need that such men ought to have sound spiritual formation, I must insist that one of the great tragedies of our time the lack of priests who are educated in foundational Greek and Hebrew, and the art of exegesis. It's easy enough to train them in the great history and Tradition of the Church, but the hard work is in passing on the tools of Scripture study, something that is missing among many a priest (the present company excepted I'm sure).

Too, they need a deep training in liturgics, hymnody, sacred music, and chant, which are equally beneficial to the Church.

I don't believe we can afford to produce priests who are only marginally more educated than the laity. Their spiritual work does demand much from them in terms of knowledge.

Also, at least a year-long vicarate should be required-- a rigourous, on-the-ground training for our priests, under the direction of the bishops, ought to include things like teaching prayer, care for the sick and needy of the congregation, and how to teach both children and adults.

I pray God will one day raise up a rock-solid, and spiritually and academically challenging, Continuing Anglican seminary in the U.S. We've historically had some of the finest priests and bishops, both in holiness and learning, and I don't see why we should be accepting anything less for our own times.

Albion Land said...

Good news from Archbishop Haverland:

On the question of S. Joseph of Arimathea, ACC postulants are already welcome there. I believe we have one studying there now. I asked him his impressions last year, and they were quite positive.

Fr_Rob said...

Good for you, Shaughn, and I couldn't agree with you more. I'm sure you'll get a a very fine theological education at Candler, and you are truly blessed to have St. Stephen's near by in which to work through the practical/internship parts of your degree as well as to supplement liturgics, spiritual formation, etc. I can't remember if Fred Craddock is still at Candler, but he's a fantastic homiletician.

I am having a similar wonderful experience at the Regent University Divinity School, which DOES require both Greek and Hebrew. My experience is that Regent provides some outstanding courses in the Bible, Biblical interpretation, hermeneutics, preaching, and Christian leadership. We have several outstanding Biblical scholars and professors, some of whom are Oxford trained. And the great thing is that they are all committed Christian believers (as are all the students), which is a refreshing and invigorating change from the liberalism I've encountered in many other places (such as Princeton).

Since I'm already a priest (ordained in 1991, 92), served a full-time two-year internship years ago under an superb old-time Nashotah graduate as well as the legendary Bishop John Cahoon, have been part of the ACC since 1979, and planted an ACC church here in Virginia Beach in 2004, I also have an ideal pastoral situation somewhat similar to yours. While my studies are more in the area of continuing theological education, I've found them invaluable to my ministry.

This is the model we need to follow, in my opinion. With all of the many options available today in terms of distance education, satellite campuses, and part-time residential studies, there is simply no reason for our ordinands NOT to pursue professional theological training and education. The old three-year residential model, while wonderful if you can afford to do it, was really designed for young men fresh out of college who would then go on to an established denominational network of churches paying a livable wage, which is simply not (or rarely) the case in the Continuum, in which "tentmakers" are the standard. Of course, there will always be exceptions and special cases for reading for orders, etc., as there always has been, but what you are doing needs to be the norm, which is incidentally precisely what the Canons of the ACC (and perhaps other Continuing Bodies) envision and require. And it will be expected if we are to be taken seriously by our flocks and communities in which we serve.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, I thought the TAC/ACA issued a statement regarding their postulants possibly utilizing REC schools(Cummins, Cranmer House)or was I just dreaming?

The good news is that there is a recognition of the problems and difficulties going forward and at least people are offering options.

BigTex AC

Anonymous said...

I'm in pretty solid general agreement with Fr Rob and with Shaugn. It is simply imperative that our clergy (representing a minuscule denomination of extremely conservative principles) be prepared as learned men. And as Fr Rob points out, there are lots of alternatives and opportunities with satellite campuses, online programs, etc.

I am quite wary, however, of mainline seminaries of mainline Protestant denominations. I went to one of these years ago, in the early 60's, graduating in 1963 with what was then called a Bachelor of Divinity degree (later upgraded to M.Div.) I will be forever grateful for the education I got there. But I certainly would not recommend that school to anyone today. The splendid scholars whom I studied under are probably uneasy in their graves. One of them wrote a book entitled "Crisis in the Church" attesting to his grief and disappointment.

While a man who has his feet firmly planted (as Shaugn seems to be) can pick courses and professors carefully, the average man is likely not to be so discerning.
I had a young friend, an RC, who went to an RC seminary where he encountered a militant feminist teaching one of his introductory courses. When he made it known that he supported the Church's position on WO, he was insulted and humiliated before his classmates.
He wound up leaving school after the first year and a vocation was lost.

One thing I would check vigilantly in assessing a seminary would be its style manual. Does it down-grade papers which violate the canons of unisex language? Does it expect dates to be "A.D." or "CE"?
Little things mean a lot, and heresy always inveigles its way in through seemingly peripheral matters.

The very best theological schools to my way of thinking are those commited to a conservative evangelical position. Both Westminsters, Reformed, Covenant, Gordon-Conwell, Fuller, TEDS. Their programs would require a great deal of supplementation for Anglican aspirants. But they are perfectly orthodox in their Christology and view of Scripture.
Lauence K. Wells+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

"...heresy always inveigles its way in through seemingly peripheral matters."

I wish I had said that. In fact, I think I will.

John Dixon said...

I have only been in the movement a few years but I have seen some incredibly disturbing shortcomings in clergy. While it is true these same shortcomings can be found in other churches it is no excuse to to foster the same in the CC. If you decide it is better to lower standards you decide that this movement will not last. What is a scandal is the knee jerk attitude to point to others as excuse.

I note questioning concerning the report's lack of remedy but no one seems to mention whether or not such suggestions were asked for in the first place. Seems to me that would be left to a different paper as it is a subject all it's own.

As in AAA the first thing to remedy the problem is to admit one exists and then decide it is time for a change.

It may be easier and cheaper to get a 'roll your own' kitchen table top degree but as a layman with considerable investment of time, money and heart in this movement I for one would like to see some advances in education, an accredited seminary, and a decent publishing house. When is the last time a decent book on any topic was published to wide acclaim or even narrow ho-hum in the Continuum? We drone on endlessly about the brokeness of the CC but a rigorous education standard could produce the necessary talent to mend the rifts, especially if all ordinands were at the same seminary. Right now the best out there seems to be Nashota even with it's shortcomings it is light years ahead of St. Joe's of Berkley. The other choice would be the REC Seminary but they still have issues regarding Real Presence and as such cannot even be considered. Better to have a degree from a Roman institution and some Anglican finishing.

In order to have works worth publishing you must first have a reliable and rigorous education.

Since when did a rigorous education preclude pastoral skill? That seems to me to indicate a system that fosters candidates for Orders not coming up through the normal parish process of being 'raised up' in a community of the faithful.
I have seen individuals 'shop' for ordination without any parish attachment or history. I have seen individuals include "PHD" behind their names and use the title 'Rev Dr' only to discover the PHD is bogus or for an unrelated discipline. As a layman who has been and will be involved in hiring clergy such modern day 'friars' will never pass muster and gain oversight over the sheep in our pasture.

WE all know that clergy formation is a problem that needs solving and it is not being solved by an unaccredited school in Berkley. First and foremost is time- it has been there for a long time and what real impact has it had on the movement overall? Then there is the location- Berkley CA!, and the school offers no online courses and secondly it can only be said to 'finish' a particular Continuing Anglican view known as "Morsian." If you are a late life ordinand, and most are, it is ridiculous to think a man could leave job and family for two years or even a couple of semesters and travel across the continent, giving up all only to receive a piece of paper valid in a jurisdiction of 28 churches. That would leave you at the mercy of those known to take advantage of such things as Fr Hart can attest too.

Anonymous said...

Apart from John's observations on
St Joseph's (I have no dog in that fight, I know, how well I know, the truth of what he says.

One problem is that the Continuum is haunted by a lurking anti- intellectualism, particularly in many of its bishops. It is very hard for Commissions on Ministry or Boards of Examining Chaplains to encourage strong reading programs or conduct meaningful examinations
when they must cope with and work around poorly educated or barely literate bishops. Fathers Sutter and Nall will understand what I mean. An idea which might be worth considering: any bishop with less than earned and valid BA/MDiv degrees should turn over his ordination process to one who does.
Laurence K. Wells+

Michael said...

We've talked about Anglican, Protestant, and Catholic schools; what about Eastern Orthodox? I know that some Anglicans have spent time at St. Vladimir's in New York. Historically, some of their profs had good relations with early continuing church leaders. The Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese offers a distance education program, combined with intensives, ultimately leading to an MA. I believe that at least part of the program would be open to non-Orthodox students, possibly all of it. They also offer a DMin designed for clergy already in ministry; they are not, as far as I know, required to be Eastern Orthodox clergy, but the education focuses on a patristic view of priestly ministry.

There have been a number of comments on St. Joseph's APCK seminary, both good and bad. I'm wondering if some of the drawbacks of the school would disappear with better co-operation between jurisdictions, since there would be a greater pool of students, and also qualified scholars to serve as faculty. Most seminaries do not require students to be of a particular jurisdiction, even if they focus financial support on their own candidates. Such a restrictive policy (while I understand their rationale...) is problematic, first of all for the pressure it might put on current or prospective students, but also because it doesn't provide the continuing movement to reach out to those outside.

I have studied in a Reformed liberal arts college (pre-seminary and theology stuff), a Catholic university that was, essentially, a seminary, and another Catholic university (in an Eastern Christian studies program that formed the core of theological education for Ukrainian Catholic seminarians). I currently study in an MA Theology program at a Mennonite University. In all of these places I was able not only to study, but in a number of cases to receive financial aid. At the first Catholic school I attended, I lived with the boarders, most of whom were Catholic postulants. The school I attend now offered me a scholarship intended for students studying for ordination, even though I am from a different church entirely. All of these schools, and their sponsering churches, have sought to provide education not just for their own, but for the entire body of Christ.

Ultimate, we should not just be seeking a way to educate a few good men for the Anglican priesthood. We should be running a full fledged theological school, perhaps a college as well, that provides theological, musical, historical and pastoral education for anyone who wants to study with us. We should see providing such education as part of the great commission.

Fr_Rob said...

I want to strongly second Fr. Wells’s recommendations. One of the reasons I advocate the conservative Evangelical schools (such as Fuller, TEDS, and Regent) is that our clergy must be able to preach and teach the Bible if we want our churches to grow, and that’s what those schools excel in.

Another reason is that our clergy have and will continue to serve in a miniscule start-up denominational setting with little to no national, diocesan, or even parochial infrastructures. They need to know how to plant and build up churches, evangelize, lead people in evangelism and in start-up situations, work with other denominations, and function in what is truly a post-Christian, missionary, and interdenominational setting. The Evangelical schools educate, train, and build skills in those areas, whereas even the best and most “orthodox” of the denominational schools are much more geared toward a caretaker ministry model and an institutional setting in which the infrastructure has long been in place. This is also true of Roman Catholic and Orthodox seminaries, not to mention their cultural, theological, and liturgical differences from our own Continuing Anglican tradition.

There’s also the matter of expectations. I’ve known several very bright and promising young men over the past 28 years who went off to “orthodox” Anglo-Catholic seminaries both in the U.S. and abroad only to end up leaving the Continuing Church because they found the actualities of parish life in our setting to be too wild and rough and not at all what they had been taught to expect in seminary.

The best model, in my opinion, would be some kind of Anglican House of Studies situated adjacent to an accredited, conservative Evangelical divinity school. That way our candidates could get a solid education in the Bible, homiletics, hermeneutics, evangelism, counseling, CPE, Christian leadership, etc., combined with education and grounding in our own traditional liturgical, theological, and spiritual distinctives. This, by the way, is not simply my own idea but also one that the late ACC Archbishop John Cahoon often discussed with me as his ideal. It’s a pity that his untimely death in 2001 left this project unrealized and forgotten.

Anonymous said...

"The best model, in my opinion, would be some kind of Anglican House of Studies situated adjacent to an accredited, conservative Evangelical divinity school."

Exactly! And these folks not only are orthodox (at least Christologically) but they also understand our situation. Whereas we have "worker priests," they have "tent-maker church planters." Very similar models. I have long prayed for an Anglican house of studies at Westminster, Philadelphia. No temptations to join the Country Club Church.

And as for Bishop Cahoon's Richmond scheme, I'm glad it never materialized. Made about as much sense as sending our candidates to EDS Cambridge Mass.
Laurence K. Wells

Fr. Robert Hart said...

In 2008,with most clergy (especially our clergy) having been ordained at the average age of 40, how realistic is the old model of "going away" to seminary? To meet today's needs we need education on the road, made available in each locality.

Anonymous said...

What I think we're crying out for at the moment is a virtual (and non-virtual, if it can be managed) Continuum Anglican studies school, while we let other folks (in carefully selected schools, about which there can continue to be argument) teach our ordinands the things that other folks can teach them. And pardon my naivety, but why should the former be hard to establish? We have the expertise, and we're not talking about a project as large as an entire theology degree.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Indeed, it can be done. And then the bishops (by the standards of the jurisdictions) must do the hands on training that completes it.

Fr_Rob said...

Regarding the Richmond scheme, Fr. Wells, you're absolutely correct that Union would have made no sense at all given its quite advanced liberalism. What is not so well known is that Bishop Cahoon also approached Pat Robertson and Regent via an intermediary in the Law School who was friendly to us. The problem, in my opinion, was that the thing was not well planned and mishandled on our end, and so nothing came of it. At the time, there was no Continuing Anglican parish in the area, which has now been rectified. We also now have a student in the Divinity School (me). Of course, it need not be Regent, and I whole-heartedly concur that Wesminster in Philadelphia would be an oustanding school in which to do this.

Michael said...

Having a House of Studies at an Evangelical seminary (perhaps one connected to a college or university as well) provides a way of offering chaplaincy services to the rest of the student body.

I've sometimes thought of establishing an order for Traditional Anglicans who work with university students, partly just to build up a viable student ministry, but also with an ulterior motive... vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Evangelical colleges have a high concentration of kids enrolling with the intention of going into parish ministry or cross cultural missions. They have a lot of young theological students. And many of them have no strong connection to a denomination, or they are looking at other options. Many of these students are systematically looking at their theology for the first time, studying the bible seriously, and asking lots of questions.

If the continuing churches banded together and created a program along the lines of God Calling, the vocations campaign run by the Catholic Societies in the C of E, with a website, advertising, and stuff, I think that we could attract a lot of young men to the priesthood, and young people of both sexes to various sorts of religious orders.

We need to run a recruitment campaign offering young Evangelical men the chance to study for the Anglican priesthood. Many would be interested, but have been frightened off by what they read about Anglicans in the newspapers.

Perhaps the SSM, in addition to making suggestions about seminary training, should put together a multi-jurisdictional campaign to encourage vocations.

They could have a website with articles explaining in depth what the ministry of a traditional Anglican priest is like and what the preparation involves. They could provide a list of jurisdictions, bishops, examining chaplains or vocations directors to call, and seminaries that have been used. Also, links to any possible sources of funding (government student loans and grants, ecumenical foundations for divinity students, university scholarships)... Along with that the SSM's seminary associate program could be developed to include opportunities for spiritual direction, and perhaps a supplemental reading program intended for candidates (and also those who want to brush up on things or seek some continuing education).

Anonymous said...


The white paper, which arose out of discussions among priests of different jurisdictions,seems to have accomplished the modest purpose we had for it: people are discussing the issue of an uneducated or undereducated clergy. Let me be clear at the outset that the proposal was not "commissioned" by anyone or entity, and certainly was not driven by Deerfield Beach, Newport Beach, Venice Beach or any other coastal consideration. (And, gee whiz, can't folks just leave stuff like that alone?) Some of us just feel compelled to write when we see a need, and there is a need here.

I am also happy that there is discussion of institutions other than those we have suggested in the paper as potential "solutions" (yes, we did, in fact, offer the these in the proposal). We have offered a baseline or norm for the entire continuum--vice any one jurisdiction--that can be added to, adjusted, amended or rejected depending on preference. The thrust of the work was to suggest that developed, accredited avenues of for clergy education exist, and, given the variety, there is no reason for clergy to be uneducated.

I do have to disagree with those, mostly popping up on another blog, who believe that we can keep going as we have been. One would not want one's doctor, lawyer, or even auto mechanic to lack a proper background. Why then would we settle for less for those ministering to our spiritual health?

As for accreditation, we have suggested accredited schools for the reasons outlined in the paper. It certainly is true that accreditation is no assurance of orthodoxy, but that is not the point. Accreditation establishes the fact that the schools have the resources to adequately conduct business, offering the student and the outside world the assurance of the resourcces being in place. The fact that a school like EDS may be apostate, or a seminary such as my alma mater Dominican House of Studies sound theologically is does not factor in. For content, one has to look at scholarship and faculty, as have many folks as evidenced by the comments posted here. (It is the accrediation thing and the concerns raised by one of the commentators, by the way, that led us to omit the APCK seminary and not Deerfield Beach.)

As to specific curriculum such as music and the like, that was not the specific purpose of our paper. We examined institutions from which one can receive a good, sound, recognized, and, yes, catholic, education. There are many curriculum alternatives and, surprisingly, entrepeneurial educational bodies willing to work with denominations to develop customized education packages. The marketplace has developed myriad opportunities, and is open to more as I personally have learned in developing a masters level church law program for the Canon Law Institute. (This is, a shameless plug, and we are hoping for an announcement in the fall.) It simply seems wasted effort to duplicate existing recognized resources. (And, here, I venture an editoriial response to those who urge a unified continuing church seminary: it cannot happen untim there is a unified continuing Anglican church. Happy to discuss my views on that one off-line.)

Finally, I want to address an undercurrent that seems to be flowing in some of the blogs. The paper was not ment to belittle or marginalize clergy who have not yet gone to seminary. Over the years, there have been many wonderful clergy who have read for orders, and utter montebanks with MDivs. The point is that with so many opportunities available, and the obligation that clergy bear to continue in learning and study, why should we not avail ourselves of them? And, here, I also speak to seminary grads who may need to refresh themselves with continuing clergy education. When you can do some of these things from the comfort of your study and art reasonable cost, it seems a shame to waste the opportunity.

In Christ,

Fr. Charles H. Nalls, SSM

Canon Tallis said...

I personally believe that priests ought to be as well educated as possible but remember being told of a young man so brilliant that he finished a degree at Yale at 17, a masters at Harvard at 18 and seminary at GTS by twenty. Since he had to wait until 24 to be ordained priest he did another couple of master's degrees before finishing the rest of his life as a second curate in some back bay parish in the diocese of Long Island. Given a choice between seeing someone like that ordained and someone who was authentically Anglican but who could not afford the necessary years in a graduate school, I would opt for the real Anglican.

What has not been mentioned here is the abject failure of Anglican seminaries in the United States and Canada to produce men who could plant and grow churches faithful to the ideals of the prayer book, Holy Scripture, the three creeds and the dogmatic teachings of the seven General Councils. Taken together just what have they given us?'
Personally, I would be happy with a beginning where the diocesan bishops of all of the Canadian and American continuum sat down together and decided what they needed in the way of priestly education and formation. That is, if they could manage to be passably polite to each other for the length that such a discussion would require. We, on the other hand, could begin the process by recognizing and posting a list of such books as they would need to "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" if they are going to be true to the best of the Anglican ideal. That, it seems to me, would be a baby step that could begin to be taken immediately.
It might also help if there could be organized cross jurisdiction "hedge schools" to share a classical and truly prayer book, Morning Prayer and Holy Communion before hearing discussing no more than two or three papers by recognized Anglican scholars. The day would end with Evening Prayer and the long dash back to the home parish for the next day. But here the papers would have to essential to the on going life and mission of the Church.

Albion Land said...

Canon Tallis,

It is a pleasure to have you here with us, and to enjoy your extensive contributions. But it would be a help to all of us if you could tell us just who you are.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Canon Tallis wrote:
Personally, I would be happy with a beginning where the diocesan bishops of all of the Canadian and American continuum sat down together and decided what they needed in the way of priestly education and formation. That is, if they could manage to be passably polite to each other for the length that such a discussion would require.

Probably the priests and deacons would all get along famously. It's a lot of those men in the purple shirts who might need to see our example.

Anonymous said...

Based on personal knowledge, I think that the Continuum's efforts in St. Joseph's of Arimathea Residential Seminary (PCK) and the Scott distance-residential program (ACC), while heroic are attempts to reinvent the wheel.

Just send the men to Nashotah for a two-year Academic Degree and then do the Practicum in-house or via apprenticeship. (The later can't be trusted to Nashotah because of its use of the 1979 Common Book of Prayer and acceptance of WO.)

Fr_Rob said...

Just remember that no matter how many good proposals we might come up with, it's really up to our bishops to decide who will or won't be ordained and the educational requirements thereof. If they decide that an undergradute degree in any subject whatsoever from any school whatsoever (or none at all) coupled with passing caononical exams of their own making and grading and/or attending a degree mill or unaccredited Internet or residential "seminary" or "school of theology" is sufficient, well, there's not much any of us can do about it. Other than complain, of course.

The Auld MacLaren said...

"Just send the men to Nashotah for a two-year Academic Degree..."

Perhps the pool of prospective clergymen in your diocese is over-stocked with well-off and unencombered 23 year-old candidates!?! I regret that we have none in mine...!

We DO have several promising men -- but the 50+ year-olds with wives, kids headed for college, mortgages and yadda yadda are going to smile at your optimism. And ask "What's Plan B?"

They are men prepared to sacrifice much to serve Our Lord -- but not to fecklessly abandon the vows they have already made, and the responsibilites they have already undertaken.

Albion Land said...

Dear "Auld,"

I don't want to speak for Death, but I would think it is obvious that he is referring to young, unencumbered candidates.

Yet, being one of those 50-pluses you refer to, I can sympathise with what you say, as I find myself in the same position as they are.

Anonymous said...

The Episcopagans have always been able to send postulants (regardless of age) to fully accredited, posh seminaries. Tradglicans can't even set up a medical or penion plan for existing clergy. I realize this a bit off topic, but what gives??????

Fr. Robert Hart said...

We cannot afford to send anybody to TEC seminaries. One semester at Nashotah House is a semester wasted-or worse. First of all, it's spiritually dangerous, and second, academically it has sunk as low as the rest.

We don't need the Episcopal Church.

poetreader said...

And, may I add, that one of our foremost needs is to stop thinking we need the Episcopal Church.


Anonymous said...

I generally agree with this however, one needs to be careful. Seminaries like Nashotah House do permit women to perform functions at the altar that are not permissible and run counter to apostolic tradition. This creates an immediate issue and an impossible situation for an Anglo-Catholic seminarian who is required to attend chapel services and commune.

I also believe that given that the Anglo-Catholic churches profess the seven ecumenical councils, the creeds and the fathers of the church that Orthodox seminaries such as St. Tikhon's and St. Vladimir's should be placed on this list. The largest mistake made is to assume that conservative Roman Catholic seminaries are the answer. But they teach post-schism theology from a Papal centered position. Any Anglo-Catholic seminarian should be prepped beforehand regarding what he needs to filter out from any seminary program outside of the Anglo-Catholic movement.

Perhaps the best answer is for the three Anglo-Catholic jurisdictions to either agree to use one of their seminaries for everyone and move for accreditation or to jointly build a seminary and shut down the jurisdictional ones.