Although it’s still a very rough draft, I’m sharing the following idea (from Kevin Miller, Rector of Church of the Savior in Wheaton, IL) because we’d like your input as we develop this approach to pastoral education/formation!

We’ve got a problem

At least here in the States, we have many people who enter Anglicanism from another tradition, usually evangelical/non-denominational. Many of these people soon sense a call to lead in the parish and/or to be ordained.

As newcomers to the Anglican tradition, they need help to understand (and then explain) Anglican distinctives in theology, history, liturgics, etc. But many of these people are busy, lacking the time and money to pursue very much formal coursework at an Anglican seminary or a seminary with an Anglican certificate program.

Here’s an idea

Note: This is not intended as a slight against Anglican seminaries or Anglican certificates!

What if local churches could help meet this need?

What if they could help train new Anglican leaders by preparing them to answer the questions that they will actually be asked in the ministry?

We’re envisioning the training of Anglican ministers, structured not by meta-topics or historical eras, but by the actual questions a working priest or deacon or Vestry member will get asked—questions that require knowledge of Anglican history, theology, liturgics, etc. to answer fully.

Ideally, this could be done in bite-sized chunks. Perhaps 26 questions/lessons that could be completed in the course of a year (one every two weeks).

Each lesson—structured around a real-life question—should be able to be completed in about 1 hour of reading/research and 1 hour of writing. The student would receive the question and a list of suggested resources as a starting point for research.

The “product” we’re expecting from the student is not an exam or a paper, but simple, bulleted “talking points” an Anglican leader would use in answering the question he/she receives.

These bullet points, submitted by the student, would then be discussed with a more knowledgeable guide, to point out areas for further research and/or clearer presentation.

At the end of the process, we’re hoping that the student will have a very useful portfolio of “talking points” to develop and use throughout their ministry!

Note: As you’ll see by some of our ideas for questions below, the “curriculum” we’ll be developing will be geared toward a North American “evangelical” Anglican context. However, (1) some questions would surely be useful/practical in other contexts and (2) we hope that this idea could easily be adapted for Anglican churches worldwide!

Here’s what we need

Put very simply, we need:

  1. A list of questions.
  2. Lists of recommended resources for answering each question.
  3. Lists of ideal talking points that the teacher/guide would us as a rubric.

A list of questions

Here are some ideas for questions that we have so far:

  • Why do you have to call yourself a priest? Doesn’t the Bible say that we’re all priests?
  • Wasn’t your denomination started because of a divorce?
  • What’s the difference between Anglicans and Roman Catholics?
  • Aren’t we going to vote on this important matter? At my old church we voted on everything.
  • Why do you baptize babies?
  • Do you believe that baptism saves you?
  • Do you believe in transubstantiation? What do you believe happens at the Lord’s Supper?
  • Why do you read from the Apocrypha?
  • Why do you wear so many weird items of clothing?
  • (Why) do you have women pastors?
  • What do Anglicans believe? Do they have a doctrinal statement?
  • What is the Book of Common Prayer?
  • Why do you use your particular Book of Common Prayer? Why use the 1979 when the ACNA has one (or vice versa)?
  • Why do you bow, kneel, cross yourself, etc.?
  • Why do you celebrate feast days?
  • What are your views about Mary? What about other “saints”?
  • What is confirmation?
  • What are your views on homosexuality?

Recommended resources

Ideally, each question would have its own list of recommended resources as a starting point for research.

However, in general, here are some resources we’ve come up with. You’ll recognize some from the Anglican Pastor Resources page:

Talking points/rubrics

Even more so than the recommended resources, these talking points would need to be developed for each question.

However, in general, we’d be looking for:

  • Scriptural support/argumentation wherever possible
  • Relevant knowledge of Anglican history
  • Relevant knowledge of Anglican theology
  • Relevant knowledge of Anglican liturgics
  • A sense of the various “spectrums” involved in Anglicanism, both globally and historically
  • Charity toward other Christian positions/traditions
  • Clarity of presentation, without over-reliance upon Anglican jargon

What would you add?

This is where we’d really like your input, ideally in the comments below!

Specifically,

  1. What questions would you add to the list?
  2. What resources would you recommend, either in general or for a particular question?
  3. What talking point(s) would you like to hear/see from a student?