When Synod meets on February 6th-9th, the headline catching debates are on issues such as women bishops and assisted dying. Yet the scheduled debate on the Sheffield Report could be as significant and radical as any other, but could easily slip by unnoticed.
The working group, which began meeting 18 months ago under bishop Steven Croft, was set up to consider how the Church of England should respond to government changes in the way Higher Education is funded. While the report opens with the issue of funding, and is being tabled at Synod in that light, the report recognises "that part (but only part) of the motivation for developing the common suite of awards is financial." (paragraph 37). Moreover, no financial costing has been made available.
The focus of Synod members will most likely be on the women bishops bill. Consequently the radical suggestions of the Sheffield report - that all theological education providers will have to move to a centralised common syllabus and HE award scheme by 2015 - could we waved through unnoticed. While exemptions are possible, they seem specifically designed for Oxford and Cambridge.
Most concerningly, Synod are being asked to approve the program and timetable before crucial questions have been resolved, such as: What shall the content of the centralised syllabus be? How can it possibly be faithful to the broad range of traditions (conservative evangelicalism, charismaticism, anglo-catholicism, etc.) without simply defaulting to the "lowest common denominator" (paragraph 8)? Keep reading.
Friday, January 27, 2012
The Church of England: All Theological Education to be Centralised According to Synod Motion being Tabled Next Week
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 11:24 AM