Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The necessary independence of Anglican seminary education?

In the light of all the publicity being given to St Michael's College, Llandaff in the media (and isn't it somewhat symptomatic both of the decline of our self-confidence as a Church and of the all-conquering power of television that we take this in some way as a validation?  All sorts of people have been falling over themselves in the last few days to give the BBC Wales 'Vicar Academy' programme immense publicity) here is part of an essay written by the late Bishop John George Hughes, Warden of St Michael's from 1976 - 87; in the light of the contemporary college's falling into line with the hierarchy's liberal agenda and its clear repudiation of its own traditional ethos*, his words very much speak for themselves: 
"...in 1907 the outcome fell in favour of those who demanded a rightful independence. The intervening years would appear to have justified their stand and it is interesting to record that the most recent attempt to analyse authority in the Anglican Communion speaks of the strength of diffuse rather than concentrated authority. The ideals of the college founders, of loyalty to ancient Christian faith, prayer and practice, included also the individual characteristics of integrity, originality and independence of mind on the part of its members. In our own day there is still the need for men of radical and independent mind, who can see nevertheless that the bedrock of their work is the faith delivered to the Saints which alone transcends the shortcomings and betrayals of every and any particular age, our own included, which in the end beckons the allegiance of bishops, priests and people alike..."
quoted in Owain W. Jones' St Michael's, College Llandaff (1992)

* The statement on the college's website that it is a 'non- party College' does this implicitly, regardless of any other evidence such as the airbrushing out of its history (another indication that for 'the new order' history doesn't matter - one can see why.
St Michael's was, of course, originally founded very much as a Tractarian or even an Anglo-Catholic institution, although over the years welcoming those from a far broader spectrum of Anglican churchmanship, and that essential ethos was broadly maintained until the last decade or so. Besides, in the Anglican world those who decry the existence of ecclesiastical parties are always those with their own partisan agendas to promote.

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