‘It is an injustice to deprive women of the possibility of theological education.’ Meeting at the International Study Centre, Canterbury, England, 23 February – 2 March 2009, as a group of about 35 Anglican women theological educators, we received the challenge that our task was to help ‘change the world’. Mindful of the comment of Max Warren that, ‘It takes the whole world to know the whole Gospel’, we affirm that it is essential that women’s theological perspectives are explored and shared as part of our commitment to proclaim ‘the whole Gospel’. Women were present from Aotearoa/New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, China, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Myanmar, Philippines, South Africa, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America and Zambia. We were sorry that last minute visa problems prevented women from Pakistan and Tanzania being with us. We were also joined throughout the consultation by Bishop Duleep de Chickera of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
We were honoured by a number of guests who spent time with us, and spoke to us. These included the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, Dr Jane Williams, Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion and Canon Phil Groves, Facilitator for the Listening Process. On Thursday 26 February we welcomed representatives of a number of United Kingdom based institutions to hear and reflect with us on the opportunities and problems that women may encounter in their roles as theological educators.
As women together we shared our varied personal, geographical, institutional and theological contexts. We participated daily in common prayer and the Eucharist. We listened to each other speaking of the joys and sorrows, issues and concerns, that face women in different parts of the world as theological educators, as women in ministry and as those seeking to further their own theological education. In spite of such differences we discovered, through our shared passion for theological education in our own lives and in the life of the Church, a strong commitment to work together to develop and improve theological education for women in the Anglican Communion. This commitment is concretely expressed by the work we have already achieved at this consultation and the work we will continue to engage with in the months ahead. .
We were richly nourished by various inputs that we received during our week together. This included:
For a substantial part of our week together we worked in task groups to take forward a number of suggestions that had arisen out of the discussion of our concerns. We will do the following:
Develop principles and protocols for the practice of mentoring, and guidelines both for those who could offer themselves as mentors and those who could benefit from such assistance.
Establish a network for Anglican women who are theological educators to offer support and encouragement to each other, and to promote the role of women as theological educators.
3.Standards and Goals in theological education
Gather information from around the Provinces in order to educate ourselves on this topic and to stimulate thinking and response on the part of others. On the basis of the information received we will propose competencies needed by theological educators.
In view of the marginal status of women in church and society in most parts of the Anglican Communion, seek to mainstream women’s issues and perspectives in all theological education courses and encourage the development of specific courses in women’s studies.
5.The Latin American region
Address specifically Latin American needs and concerns identified by members of the consultation from the Latin American region. As a consultation we affirm that this is a valuable part of our total work, and illustrates the importance of the contextual dimension in theological education.
6.Global Anglican Theological Academy for Women in Leadership
Establish a specific structure for helping in the development of a number of younger women from the two-thirds world as academic leaders for the future global Anglican Communion.
More details about each of these proposals will shortly be available on the Theological Studies section of the Anglican Communion website. TEAC, the Anglican Communion Working Party on Theological Education, which organised this consultation, and its Secretary, Clare Amos, will work with each of the task groups as appropriate to facilitate further work and implementation of these proposals. In particular there will be a report about the consultation presented to the forthcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Jamaica.
We are immensely grateful to the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral, the cathedral congregation as a whole and the staff of the International Study Centre, for the warm and hospitable way in which they facilitated our stay in Canterbury. We appreciate the work done by Revd Terrie Robinson of the Anglican Communion Office in preparing our worship. We wish to express particular thanks to Venerable Sheila Watson, Archdeacon of Canterbury. Her helpful chairing of many of our sessions gave the group the confidence to move efficiently from ideas towards tasks and action.
When Archbishop Rowan Williams spoke about the work of TEAC at ACC 13 in 2006 he said, alluding to words of George Herbert, ‘The gospel overflows in theology… Theology is perhaps first and foremost a celebration – a celebration that helps us find a way, or a truth that leads us into a life.’ Meeting at Canterbury in a week that includes the traditional date for the commemoration of George Herbert (February 27) we discovered how true these words were for us as a group of Anglican women committed to the importance of theological education for all the people of God.
For more information contact Clare Amos, Director of Theological Studies, at the Anglican Communion Office. Email: email@example.com
Participants in the consultation
Justine Allain-Chapman, England
Clare Amos, TEAC
Irene Ayallo, Kenya
Hnin Hnin Aye, Myanmar
Judith Berling, USA
Amy Chambers, Fiji
Duleep de Chickera, Sri Lanka
Beverley Haddad, South Africa
Helen-Ann Hartley, England
Sally Sue Hernandez Garcia, Mexico and TEAC Regional Associate
Jennifer Jamias, Philippines
Vivette Jennings, Jamaica, West Indies
Kwok Pui Lan, US/Hong Kong
Gloria Mapangdol, Philippines
Omana Mathew, India
Yin Yin Maw, Myanmar
Judith McDaniel USA
Esther Mombo, Kenya
Olivia Nassaka Banja, Uganda
Emily Onyango, Kenya
Sue Parks, TEAC
Mariefe Revollido, Philippines
Terrie Robinson, Anglican Communion Office
Vera Lucia Simões de Oliveira, Brazil
Natalie Simons Arendse, South Africa
Ivy Singh, India
Leslie Steffensen, USA
Jenny Te Paa, Aotearoa /New Zealand
Monica Tompkins, Argentina
Janet Trisk, South Africa
Olga Tulapona, Zambia
Joanna Udal, UK/Sudan
Jiawei Wang, China
Sheila Watson, Canterbury