Scottish General Synod: Theological Institute

by
20 June 2014

THE College of Bishops and the Primus told the Synod last year that the findings of the Quality in Formation Panel (QFP) inspectors on the Theological Institute of the Scottish Episcopal Church (TISEC) in 2013 must be taken seriously and acted on.

TISEC is a constituent part of the General Synod, with limited resources. In this first ever objective inspection, it was judged fit for purpose, but with no confidence in the two critical areas of formation and governance. Significant change was called for by September 2014. Speakers last year emphasised that this should be "no rearranging of deckchairs on the Titanic".

The Synod met in its groups to discuss the TISEC review that was undertaken after the inspection, and which has led to the evolution of TISEC into the Scottish Episcopal Institute (SEI). The Bishop of Argyll & The Isles and convener of the SEI implementation working group, the Rt Revd Kevin Pearson, said that TISEC had come of age.

This was "a Holy Spirit moment", he said. The 35 committees that reported to TISEC have been replaced by a single Ministry Council, with the same status as other SEC boards, responsible for strategic vision, provincial training-programmes, and standards and accountability for all resources, including finances and staff.

Its recommended board will comprise two bishops, a senior cleric with experience of formation, an educationist, a C of E or ecumenical representative, a finance expert, someone with experience in strategic development and implementation, a lay person with significant experience of the SEC, and a student.

The Synod gave enthusiastic affirmation of the work of the former Principal, Dr Michael Fuller, and welcomed his successor, Dr Anne Tomlinson, currently the ministry development officer in the Glasgow & Galloway diocese.

The TISEC working-party report identified systemic weaknesses in the current dispersed structure. Formation in a changing Church was recognised as a key concern, and it recommended that TISEC should be consciously shaped around "formation" rather than education: a structure designed to prepare those who will serve in authorised ministries spiritually and intellectually, but also in terms of the shaping of character and temperament and professional skills.

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