Friday, 09 December 2016

Sharing Wisdom of Theological Education

Written by Rev. Prof. Andrew Dutney

This week teachers from the seven theological colleges associated with the Uniting Church gathered in Brisbane. It’s a biennial consultation aimed at fostering communication, collaboration and cooperation in theological education.

The educational experience, wisdom and passion in the room is truly impressive. The Uniting Church has a rich resource in these people.

It was an opportunity to hear updates from each of the colleges on their current situation – what was working well, what challenges they are facing, and what questions they have for their interstate colleagues.

The richness of the research activities of UCA scholars was uncovered as each of the participants gave a two minute “lightning talk” on their current project/s.

Rosemary Dewerse led a conversation on how educational processes can be informed by Indigenous ways of learning. That conversation was enriched by the teachers from Nungalinya College (Darwin) and Wontulp-Bi-Buyu College (Cairns) which specialise in Aboriginal and Islander education. But it soon became clear that all the other colleges were also actively engaged with the UAICC in exploring two-way teaching and learning between First and Second peoples.

A full session was devoted to discussing issues arising from Geoff Thompson’s important new book on theological issues arising from the Basis of Union – Disturbing Much, Disturbing Many – with Geoff on hand to respond to questions and comments from his colleagues.

There was also a lively discussion of the new Standards for Theological Education and Formation for ordination candidates and the new possibilities they offer for pathways into the Diaconate and the ministry of the Word.

The high value placed on the work of these teachers and scholars in the life of the Uniting Church was reflected by the presence of both the President and the President-Elect at several sessions of the conference. While, as the Principal of one of our colleges, the Ex-President participated throughout.