Theological Education - TEAC - Report July 2005

Report on Anglican Way Questionnaire

REPORT ON ANGLICAN WAY QUESTIONNAIRE

Approximately 350 copies of the questionnaire were distributed on behalf of the Anglican Way Target Group of TEAC in 2004. The questionnaire was sent to Primates, Provincial Secretaries, members of TEAC, mission agencies theological colleges and other theological training centres/institutions around the Communion. There were approximately 60 responses – and additionally there were a few submissions which while not a direct response to the questionnaire provided useful information. The results came from 21 Provinces of the Anglican Communion, although England was disproportionately represented with about a third of the responses (although some of these came from international organisations such as mission agencies which happened to be based in England). The questionnaire has been made available in French and Spanish – though this has elicited little extra response.

The Coordinator of TEAC has already (in June 2004) provided a provisional detailed breakdown of results as they were at that time (since then a few other submissions have come in). This report does not seek to be so detailed, but offers some key highlights which appeared particularly significant in the questionnaire.

1. In response to the question ‘What are the characteristics of Anglicanism which were particularly relevant today and especially important in the respondent’s local context’ the following were some of the answers. (Note: the respondents had been asked to look at and consider the characteristics of the Anglican Way as it was then stated in the group’s brief  - but also invited to ‘write in’ suggestions of their own)

Liturgy and worship were seen as particularly important and another often stated plus point of the Anglican Way was ‘diversity in unity’. Scripture, tradition and reason were also affirmed as being at the heart of Anglican life, doctrine and worship.  To give a flavour of the range of answers the following are quoted from the responses.

  • ‘We have a sense of tradition which liberates rather than imprisons us, and reminds us that faith is expressed through mystery and paradox.’
  • ‘Experience is important, alongside scripture, tradition and reason’
  • ‘Scripture is more important than tradition and reason’
  • ‘Critical exegetical study is an important characteristic of the Anglican Way’
  • ‘We are “a thinking church”.’
  • ‘Anglicans are concerned to engage thoughtfully with what Christian tradition means for the present time’
  • ‘We have a critical sense of the past and vigorous engagement with the present context, in other words a contextual theology’
  • ‘It is important that we have a scholarly and well informed understanding of current social, intellectual, philosophical and scientific debates’
  • ‘We are a Communion of people covering a broad theological spectrum – modelled on the Trinity’.
  • ‘An ability to engage with (and support those who engage) in public theology’
  • ‘The incarnational and sacramental theology of Anglicanism is important – we have a responsibility to live the gospel towards our neighbour and towards creation’
  • ‘A concern for the whole people of God reflected in healthy synodical government and in faith applied to social issues, to interchurch and to outreach’.
  • ‘Anglican Christianity is identified by the opportunity it offers for a church of the people to emerge in each context, aspiring to be a church of the community’
  • ‘We offer a way of doing holistic mission, a Via Missia’
  • ‘We are not sufficiently aware of other parts of the Communion’
  • ‘There is a potential of the Anglican Communion to initiate a new kind of fellowship reaching back towards the western world’
  • ‘The mission focus of African Anglicanism is significant: it is an inherited commitment from its founding agencies’
  • ‘The vibrancy which has been inculturated into African spirituality is significant and it is important to bring that vibrancy into our traditions’
  • ‘We need to discover a distinctive Anglican homiletic’

2. A question was asked about the global characteristics of Anglicanism. Not surprisingly answers to this showed a considerable degree of overlap with the first question. The importance of the ‘Instruments of Unity’ and particularly the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury was a thread that ran through responses. The ‘sharing of a common based liturgy to create a sense of global belonging’ was specifically mentioned, and the possibility the Communion offered for a ‘Christlike critique of global culture.’ Another key positive of the Anglican Communion was its potential for building bridges of understanding and seeking reconciliation across cultures and continents. The phrase a ‘collegiality between worlds’ was particularly striking. The ‘mistrust of clericalism’ and the need for a system of balances and checks between bishops, clergy and people and the importance of the synodical structure was also affirmed. Several responses also referred to the commitment of the Anglican Church to helping the spiritual development of children in the church, and the potential for Anglicans to build bridges to other faith communities. One response argued that the notion of ‘Anglicanism’ should be resisted and that ‘Anglican Christianity is identified by the opportunity it offers for a church of the people to emerge in each context, usually bounded by national boundaries.’

3. Respondents were asked to reflect on what aspects of Anglicanism were ignored in their context and/or which needed to be better developed. People were asked to respond to this particularly in the context of thinking about theological education. There was an element of overlap with answers to previous questions. Two issues which emerged quite strongly were the need for positive understanding of Anglican’s potential for ‘diversity in unity’ and also the need for Anglicans to better appreciate their ecumenical role. Again to give a flavour of other answers the following quotes from the responses are offered:

  • ‘The need to encourage people to value the Prayer Book and its liturgy as a way of forming us – not necessarily or only the BCP, but the importance of a printed liturgy agreed by the church’
  • ‘We need a sound biblical theology’
  • ‘We need a lively sense of history’
  • ‘There needs to be a critical approach in biblical and historical scholarship’
  • ‘In my context there is very little theological engagement with contemporary society – this is a major lack’
  • ‘We need to be aware that unity and mutual affection is more important than doctrinal uniformity’
  • ‘Anglican theological education needs to have a greater awareness of philosophical and sociological concepts underpinning it’
  • ‘We need a renewed sense of liturgical excellence, including liturgical preaching’
  • ‘Theology is a tool for the laity as well as the clergy’
  • ‘We need to ensure /recover the importance of theological reflection in synod discussions’
  • ‘We need training in conflict resolution’
  • ‘We need more awareness of the influence of women in theology and spirituality, and we need to be more aware of the need for language that is properly inclusive’
  • ‘There needs to be a rethinking of institutional structures to enable a mission shaped church’
  • ‘It is important that the concept of servant ministry for bishops and clergy is expressed in deed – not simply talk’
  • ‘The way that Anglicanism is rooted in community needs to be taken seriously, as this has implications for diversity within unity’
  • ‘We need to ensure that children and teenagers feel that they belong in the Anglican Church’
  • ‘It is important to recover the centrality of preaching – with a focus on the Anglican approach to preaching’
  • ‘Is there a distinctive Anglican theological method we should be seeking to articulate?’
  • ‘The incompleteness and provisionality of Anglicanism needed to be better taught’
  • ‘We need theological education to make people more literate in the languages and stories of those of other faiths’
  • ‘There needs to be a greater exploration of the dynamics of innovation and the value of tradition in our rapidly changing society’
  • ‘We need to find ways to talk about the scriptures that do not polarise and separate’
  • ‘It is important to explore how worship can be indigenised in a way which still maintains the pillars of Anglicanism’
  • ‘There needs to be understanding of the post colonial paradigm shift’
  • ‘ It is important for those in the UK to become more aware of the global context of Anglicanism’

 

4. Respondents were asked about resources about Anglicanism/the Anglican Communion, firstly what was already available to them – and secondly what other resources would be useful. Answers to the first question included Anglican World (thought there was the feeling that it could be improved), Adrian Chatfield’s book ‘Something in Common’, the built heritage and cultural expression of the Church of England, CEFACS, ANITEPAM and the ANITEPAM bulletin, the exchange of students and scholars with other parts of the Anglican Communion. A number of respondents thought that there were quite good resources already available but that the basic problem was that the average Anglican had little knowledge of them.

As regards the question of what needed to be made available – comments included more culturally or linguistically appropriate resources eg for First Nations people in Canada or for Spanish or French speakers. There was the feeling that either a CD Rom, or a web based course – or both – might be helpful. Correspondence  courses or audio-visual courses were also mentioned. Development of a web gateway or a CD Rom to be a directory eg of ‘all things Anglican’. Many of the respondents were aware that basic courses for laity on biblical interpretation, faith and culture already existed in various parts of the Communion – but they needed to be better publicised and shared (as appropriate) across the Communion. There needed to be more training for liturgical leaders (not necessarily clergy). There was a lack felt of materials linked to the nurture – and to the protection – of children. The comment was made that it would be good to have something like CEFACS available in other parts of the Communion. It was also noted that it would be helpful to have a study centre(s) operating in Spanish and French. One respondent mentioned that low cost visits to other parts of the Anglican Communion would be helpful to assist people to experience the breadth of the Communion.

5. There was a particular question about training done ecumenically. Here the different context in England (where the Church of England is perceived as the dominant religious tradition) as opposed to the rest of the Communion was clearly a key issue. In England Anglicans are often/normally the majority group in such ecumenical settings, whereas in other parts of the world Anglicans might often be a minority group in a seminary. Comments was made about the need for attention to Anglican patterns, and how ecumenical training can be a challenge when it comes to the area of experiencing worship and training in the leading of it. It was noted by one respondent from the United Kingdom that because officially ecumenical institutions are in reality heavily Anglican – this can lead among Church of England ordinands to an unbalanced view of the comparative world position of Anglicanism. The same respondent also noted that it was therefore important for ordinands to spend some time outside the UK – visiting another Anglican Province – to get a sense of balance and perspective.

6. The questionnaire asked whether there was a specific Anglican approach to mission and inter faith studies. About half the respondents answered the questions and of those who did a clear view was ‘Yes there is’. It was felt that what we had to offer in this area was a history of being able to talk to one another, the acceptance of diversity and comprehensiveness and a willingness to be aware of local context for mission and dialogue.

Clare Amos, Coordinator TEAC,6 February 2005.