Anglican theological education group meets in Sri Lanka

March 12, 2012

[Anglican Communion News Service] The church’s faithful witness in Sri Lanka amid a rich inter-religious environment and the challenges of post-war reconciliation has fostered new insights for the work of TEAC (Theological Education in the Anglican Communion). Meeting in Kandy from March 1 – 7, the third and final meeting of the Working Party on Theological Education in the Anglican Communion (TEAC 2) evaluated the work achieved to date and developed recommendations for future work at the Communion level.

One of the valuable things learned through TEAC 2 has been the importance of engagement with the local context (having met in Canterbury, UK, and Harare, Zimbabwe, as well as Sri Lanka) for meaningful theological education reflection. After the much-valued solidarity expressed in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 2011, the 2012 meeting at the invitation of the Church of Ceylon offered a special opportunity to learn from the church’s reflections in the Sri Lankan context. TEAC 2 participants gathered first in Colombo, hosted by Bishop Dilhoraj Canagasabey, meeting clergy and laity from local parishes. A reflection was given on the particular issues raised for theological education by the Sri Lankan context by the director of the Colombo Diocesan Institute, the Rev. Dr. Rienzi Perera.

TEAC participants then travelled to Kandy for a day of interactions at the Theological College of Lanka, the ecumenical college founded jointly to provide theological education together for Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists. Here TEAC members listened to the challenges facing the college and the special opportunities these offered as well as sharing insights from the four-fold shape of the Anglican Way of being formed by Scripture, shaped by worship, ordered for Communion and directed by God’s mission.

This four-fold pattern also shaped the experience of the working party’s own deliberations.  Each meeting of TEAC 2 has contributed to the building of community among those engaged in theological education work in the Anglican Communion. A paper on the future of theological education, by the Rt. Rev. Dr Stephen Pickard, commissioned by the secretary general of the Anglican Communion for the Kandy meeting, formed the basis of rich theological discussions as the group considered the theological underpinning of theological education. The working party affirmed the need for a permanent commitment to theological education within the structures of the communion. It highlighted the importance of facilitating resources and developing theological education networks around the communion and the coordination and advocacy necessary for these to be achieved.

The Bishop of Kurunegala, Bishop Shanta Francis, shared with the group the background to the social situation in this diocese where they were meeting, while working party members also put into practice the priority for theological education to be rooted in its various local contexts through participation in Sunday services in the local parishes. The work towards reconciliation within these communities demonstrated this particular calling of the church. As TEAC member Bishop Kumara described, “Two wounded communities are able to become healers because of the Gospel.”

The findings and recommendations of TEAC 2 will be presented to the Anglican Consultative Council at its 15th meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, in October 2012

TEAC 2 Members:
The Most Rev. Colin Johnson, Chair, Anglican Church of Canada
The Rev. Dr Sathianathan Clarke, Church South India/TEC
The Rt Rev. Chad Gandiya, Province of Central Africa
The Rev. Prof. Cynthia Kittredge,The Episcopal Church
The Rt Rev. Kumara Illangasinghe, Church of Ceylon
The Rt Rev. Stephen Pickard, Anglican Church of Australia
The Ven. Patrick Tanhuanco, Episcopal Church of Philippines
Canon Joanna Udal, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Office

Staff
Sue Parks, Anglican Communion Office

TEAC Members not present in Sri Lanka
Canon Edward Condry, Church of England
The Rev. Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Church of England
The Rev. Sally-Sue Hernandez Garcia, La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico
The Rev. Prof. Dr Joseph Wandera, Kenya