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Jun 30, 2011 | The Very Rev. Doug Travis

Consultation for Theological Principals in the Anglican Communion

Editor’s note: The following is a report from Dean Douglas Travis on the recent meeting in Canterbury.


Recently Seminary of the Southwest was privileged to have its Dean and President, the Very Rev. Douglas Travis, be invited to participate in the inaugural consultation for theological college “principals” in the Anglican Communion. The consultation was sponsored by the Theological Education for the Anglican Communion (TEAC), the Anglican Communion working party on theological education. Gathering in Canterbury, the consultation brought together representatives from 27 countries representing all continents except for Antarctica. While one of four Americans at the conference, Travis was the only dean from a seminary in the continental United States.


The official communiqué about the consultation’s work noted that “[w]e celebrate and affirm the vital significance of theological education for the life and health of the Church and the whole people of God. We believe that good theological education has transforming power, and can promote a global understanding of Anglican identity. Our consultation has contributed to the unity of the Anglican Communion, as well as enabling various models of ecumenical engagement to be explored. We identified through our meeting a shared commitment to fostering active and discerning Christian discipleship, which embraces holistic mission and enables the building up of the Kingdom of God.”


The disparity of resources available for theological education between the different Provinces of the Anglican Communion was a challenge that the principals were conscious of throughout their time together. A number of colleges and seminaries so lack resources that they are simply struggling to survive.  The absence of some colleagues due to visa difficulties reminded all present of the challenges theological educators face in a number of parts of the world. The consultation also lamented the small number of women at the meeting, a reflection of the under-representation of women in such roles around the Communion.


One of the highlights of the consultation was an address by Archbishop Rowan Williams. Williams underscored that theology draws out the implications of being Christian in a particular place at a particular time.  He then asked the principals to explore how partnerships within the Communion can be better used to do theology together. Finally, even as he demonstrated his own sense of joy in doing theology, the Archbishop reminded the principals that if a theological institution did not engender a sense of excitement about being in Christ, then such an institution was ultimately failing.


As the consultation drew to a close the principals gathered together their thoughts and hopes in a number of practical proposals that they hoped would be taken forward.  These include:


  1. Establishing a network of Anglican Theological Colleges and seminaries.
  2. Establishing a mechanism for the exchange of students and staff across the Communion.
  3. Establishing a fund to facilitate such exchanges.
  4. Facilitating further conversations and dialogue between theological college Principals, Bishops and Primates.
  5. Seeking to provide (online where possible) resources on Anglicanism in the languages of the Communion.


The Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, Academic Dean at Seminary of the Southwest, is also a member of the Steering Group of TEAC.