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St George’s College, Jerusalem, welcomes new Dean

Posted on: November 6, 2015 10:45 AM
The outgoing Dean of St George's College, Jerusalem, the Very Revd Dr Graham Smith (left) with the new Dean, the Revd Dr Gregory Jenks (right), and the Archbishop of Jerusalem, the Most Revd Suheil Dawani
Photo Credit: Diocese of Jerusalem

[ACNS] The new Dean of St George’s College in Jerusalem, the Revd Dr Gregory Jenks, has begun his new ministry by meeting the Archbishop of Jerusalem, the Most Revd Suheil Dawani, and his predecessor as Dean, the Very Revd Dr Graham Smith. In addition to his role with the college, Dr Jenks will become a residentiary canon at St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem

St George’s College, Jerusalem is an Anglican community of education, hospitality, pilgrimage, and reconciliation; and is renowned for its short-term study and pilgrimage courses which bring Christians from around the world into contact with the “Living Stones” of Israel and Palestine.

“St George’s College was originally founded in 1920 as a theological school for Palestinian seminarians. However, the political complexities and challenges in the Middle East made that original vision impossible,” the Rt Revd Richard Cheetham, Bishop of Kingston in the Church of England’s Diocese of Southwark, and chair of the British Regional Committee of St George’s College, said. “Therefore, in the 1960s, a new, broader vision was developed for educating clergy and laity from the worldwide Anglican Communion and throughout the ecumenical Church. Over the years, St George’s College courses have renewed faith and changed lives.

“The unique context of St George’s College means it can be a place where, for example, clergy and laity from link dioceses across the Anglican Communion can meet and share in a deep experience of pilgrimage.

“Those in training for, or at an early stage in, ordained ministry can be transformed by profound encounters while on courses. Jerusalem as a meeting place not only for Christians from around the world but also for Jews and Muslims, offers huge possibilities for interfaith engagement. All of the college courses provide experiences with the local Churches and the College hopes to be a growing resource for the clergy of the Diocese of Jerusalem.

“Our complex and conflicted 21st-Century world is in real need of centres of meeting, reconciliation, learning, and prayer. St George’s College is one such place with unique potential. As you pray for the peace of Jerusalem, please remember to attend, support, and make known to other’s the extraordinary ministry provided by St George’s College [which is] a recognized leader in Christian adult education in the Holy Land.”

Forthcoming courses at St George’s College cover a range of topics from Abraham and his children, looking at the Abrahamic narratives of the Hebrew Bible and the traditions of Abraham as developed in the Talmud; Living Stones: Peace, Reconciliation and the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, providing an in depth overview of the diocese set within the larger context of indigenous Christianity in the Holy Land; Palestine of Jesus, a pilgrimage course focusing upon the key events in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the sacred landscapes in which they take place.

Other courses include Risen with Christ, an opportunity to experience Holy Week and Easter observances of the Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Coptic and Ethiopian communities in Jerusalem; Sharing Perspectives: Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land, including visits to holy sites of the three Abrahamic faiths to engage in inter-faith theological discussion; Ways in the Wilderness, 14 days in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan exploring scriptural, monastic, and personal themes of wilderness; and Women of the Bible, an opportunity to experience the sacred - and not-so-sacred - stories of biblical women through the medium of professional biblical story.

“Diocesan staff, parishes, institutions and parishioners would like to thank Dean Graham for his leadership of St George’s College for the past four years,” Archbishop Dawani said. “We would like to welcome Dean Greg into his new role as Dean, wishing him infinite blessings.”

Dr Jenks is an Australian-born Anglican priest, who previously served as Academic Dean of St Francis Theological College in Brisbane, and senior lecturer in the School of Theology at Charles Sturt University in New South Wales.

He is no stranger to Israel as he was a member of the consortium for the Bethsaida excavations project in Israel and regularly took students from the Charles Sturt University to participate in the dig.

Unomaha _bethsaida _coin _460

A Roman gold coin is discovered by the Bethsaida excavations project. Photo: University of Nebraska at Omaha

The Bethsaida excavations have, in recent years, focused extensively an Iron Age gate complex, including the plaza inside the gate, and have also continued to expose the Hellenistic-Roman town of Jesus’ time.

In 2005 they found an undisturbed wine cellar, and in 2006, two bronze bowls used in Roman cultic rituals. In 2011, the project discovered a solid gold Roman coin – the only coin of its type discovered in Israel to this day.

Last summer they made some spectacular finds, including a coin known as Judea Capta – this was minted by the emperor Domitian (AD 81-96) in commemoration of the conquest of Judea and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.