Important Thinking in the Church of England

You may have already heard about the recently published reports from the Archbishop’s Task Groups.

They are worth looking at to see the direction of travel proposed for the Church of England, especially in training and discipleship, and some other links below might interest you too.


The paper on Developing Discipleship can be found here, offering ten marks of dioceses that are developing disciples.

Personally I welcome this as the institution catching up with a renewed sense of the importance of making disciples that is already around today – certainly in the last few years of my time in Bath Deanery this was very much our focus. The Methodist Church have been working on this in Deepening Discipleship, especially through the Inspire Network, and LICC have some interesting work through their Imagine project.

Ministerial Training

The paper from the Resourcing Ministerial Education (RME) Task Group looks at how the CofE uses its resources in the best way to provide the best training for future ordained and lay ministry.

At STETS, where we are particularly keen on flexibility in training and on blended learning, we are especially in tune with point 31 which says:

“The RME research gives a positive message about current ministerial education provision in that the findings show no distinction between college and course pathways in relation to effectiveness related to numerical and spiritual growth and other measures. The full range of pathways can therefore be used with confidence, recognising that each pathway has its own excellence and offers distinctive benefits.”

Other papers and comments…

There are other papers going to General Synod too, all in the context of the Archbishops’ document In Each Generation: A programme for reform and renewal which is worth reading. All the papers have comment pages if you wish to join in the debate.

There’s much reaction to all this. Amongst others, one of our Training Ministers David Keen has been blogging at a great rate over the last week, and last Thursday’s post includes a helpful oversight of all the papers that have come out – his blog can be found here.

…so let’s pray!

Finally, the RME paper includes a prayer which they commend to the wider church and we commend to you:

Almighty Father,
Give us grace and strength this day
to build up your church
in love for the world,
in the making of disciples
and to equip the saints for the work of ministry.
Plant your hope deep within us.
Open our eyes to a fresh vision of your kingdom.
Give us wisdom for the common task.
Draw us and all your Church deeper into Christ,
our foundation and cornerstone,
that we may work together as one body,
in the power of the Spirit
and for the sake of your glory. Amen

Grace at Christmas

59eab41b57bd311959dc14193affaa97Christmas holds grace and gift.

I found again this piece by Paul Tillich where, having spoken about sin as separation, he speaks about God’s freely given grace bridging that separation and meeting us once again.

I read this thinking of the shepherds, of Mary and Joseph, of Magi, Simeon and Anna meeting the baby. I read this praying God’s grace will strike us afresh this Christmas time, and all who we pray for.

Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness.

It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life.

It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual,
because we have violated another life, a life which we loved,
or from which we were estranged.

It strikes us when our disgust for our own being,
our indifference, our weakness, our hostility,
and our lack of direction and composure have become intolerable to us.

It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection of life does not appear,
when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades,
when despair destroys all joy and courage.

Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness,
and it is as though a voice were saying:
“You are accepted.
You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you,
and the name of which you do not know.
Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later.
Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much.
Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything.
Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!”

If that happens to us, we experience grace.

After such an experience we may not be better than before,
and we may not believe more than before.

But everything is transformed.

In that moment, grace conquers sin,
and reconciliation bridges the gulf of estrangement.

And nothing is demanded of this experience,
no religious or moral or intellectual presupposition,
nothing but acceptance.

Paul Tillich, 1955 The Shaking of the Foundations