[ACNS] The first permanent, ecumenical, accredited training course for Christian ministry in Bermuda is a step closer to becoming reality thanks to a partnership between the Anglican Church of Bermuda, the Bermuda College and Canada’s Atlantic School of Theology.
Bermuda is an extra-provincial diocese and is currently served by 10 stipendiary priests, one non-stipendiary priest and an NSM deacon who will be priested on the feast of Saint Andrew. They are supported by a number of retired priests, four Lay Readers and a number of Parish Workers.
Currently, ordinands are sent off-island to residential courses in recognised theological education institutions; while lay leaders complete a distance learning course with St John’s College, Nottingham. The Bishop of Bermuda, the Rt Revd Nicholas Dill, hopes that the new initiative will enable the diocese to “’Bermudianise' the training so that it fits the context in which we find ourselves joining in the Mission of God.”
The new agreement will see a series of lectures over the course of the next few days, beginning with an open lecture in Bermuda Cathedral on Sunday entitled “The Matter of the Spirit” by Dr David Deane, associate professor of systematic and historical theology at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
This will be followed by a short taster course in which Dr Deane will lead students in an exploration of the Holy Spirit. The series of lectures have been designed to help prospective students and church leaders to explore the concept of courses offered by AST in preparing students for Christian ministry; and it is hoped will lead to the first permanent, ecumenical, accredited training course for Christian ministry in Bermuda.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity to be able to offer access to high quality theological education to Bermudians, without the need for them to either go it alone or go off island,” Bishop Nicholas said. “This is, from the start, designed to be ecumenical, applicable, and accessible throughout.”
The Bishop has involved other denominational leaders in the conversations about the new partnership, including the Roman Catholic Church the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Baptist Church, the Salvation Army, the Methodist Church and the United Church of Canada.
Once the training course is established, “each denomination will make its own judgment about how to use it,” the diocesan spokesman, the Revd Ant Pettit, said. “The Anglican Church of Bermuda will use the course as the theological foundation of training for ministry for a range of ministries from NSM ordained ministries, licenced lay ministries, and more informal ministries such as Youth Worker.
“The course is flexible enough to take this as it is adaptable according to need. However, we are working in partnership with the Atlantic School of Theology, CPAS, Fresh Expressions and the C of E Ministry Division to make sure we have coherent and robust formational processes and practices to enable a fully rounded preparation for ministry.”
Ordinands in training for stipendiary ministry will continue to be sent abroad for training.
“To be a part of the development of a comprehensive training platform, that literally serves the entire country, is an honour and a privilege,” Dr Mark Van Den Hende, vice president of academic and student affairs at the Bermuda College, said. “[College] director, Tawana Flood, and her staff have met with leaders from a cross section of Bermudian church denominations to help transcend their goal of a teaching and learning program on-island into a reality.
“We commend the efforts of all involved as well as the leadership of Bishop Nick.”