The vice principal of St Hild College in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, the Revd Dr Stephen Spencer, has been appointed as director for theological education in the Anglican Communion. Dr Spencer will work to build up companionship links between theological colleges and courses in the Global North and the Global South. “There are resources and inspiration which can be shared in both directions, for the benefit of all,” he said, “and the director will need to be a kind of matchmaker facilitating this.”
In his new role, Dr Spencer will help to foster friendship between ordinands and other students across the Anglican Communion, laying foundations for future unity and mission. He will also explore possibilities for having programmes and teaching modules available online, as a resource particularly for colleges in parts of the world with limited resources.
The post had been recommended in a 2012 report of a working group on theological education in the Anglican Communion (TEAC) and endorsed by the Anglican Consultative Council, at their ACC-15 meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, which recommended that external funding be found to support the appointment of a director of theological education.
This new post is funded the St Augustine’s Foundation, a charity with origins at Canterbury Cathedral. The foundation was originally established by a Royal Charter in 1848 for the “provision of a college to provide an education to qualify young men for the service of the church in the distant dependencies of our Empire.” The charity’s purposes have been updated through the years and it now works to enable the training of mem and women for ministry in the Churches of the Anglican Communion.
“Theological education is vitally important in the Anglican Communion as we must invest in having fully trained church leaders to share the gospel and see Christ’s Kingdom grow,” the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said. “In many parts of the Communion theological education resources and activity is constrained, so this post and Stephen’s appointment represent an important investment for the future.”
The chair of the St Augustine’s Foundation, the Bishop of Ramsbury in the Church of England’s Diocese of Salisbury, Dr Edward Condry, also welcomed Dr Spencer’s appointment, saying: “the St Augustine’s Foundation is delighted to support the appointment of Stephen Spencer as the new director of theological education in the Anglican Communion. This is an important position, and Stephen is well qualified to develop work in this crucial field.”
Dr Spencer’s experience of the wider Anglican Communion includes his work as link officer for the Church of England’s Diocese of Leeds and the Anglican Church of Tanzania, where he has been a canon of Musoma Cathedral in the Diocese of Mara since 2013. He has made annual visits to Tanzania for the past six years, building up links between churches in Yorkshire and the dioceses of the Mara region. He has also lived for several years in Zimbabwe, where he served as a chaplain and parish priest; and he studied at Yale University in the US state of Connecticut, where he worshipped with local churches.
The Revd Dr Stephen Specer, pictured last week on his most-recent visit to Tanzania.
He has held theological teaching posts in Cumbria, Manchester and Yorkshire, where he currently serves as vice principal of St Hild College, serving the Yorkshire region and based at Mirfield, training people for ordained ministry. His teaching areas include mission theology and Anglicanism.
Dr Spencer has travelled widely in Europe, India and the US; and has published a number of books, including two studies of Archbishop William Temple and study guides on Christian mission, Anglicanism and church history. His most recent book is a collection of essays by leading scholars on Anglican social theology. He is a contributor to the new bishop’s annual conference at Canterbury Cathedral and a trustee of the Scott Holland Trust and the Lincoln Theological Institute at Manchester University.