The Rev. Stephen Spencer, vice principal of St. Hild College in West Yorkshire, is the new director for theological education in the Anglican Communion. Spencer will strengthen links between theological colleges and courses in the Global North and the Global South.
“There are resources and inspiration which can be shared in both directions, for the benefit of all,” Spencer said. “The director will need to be a kind of matchmaker facilitating this.”
In his new role, Spencer will encourage friendships between ordinands and other students across the Anglican Communion, laying foundations for future unity and mission. He will also explore possibilities for making courses available online, particularly for areas with limited resources.
In a 2012 report [PDF], a working group on Theological Education for the Anglican Communion recommended creating the post. The idea was endorsed by the Anglican Consultative Council during its meeting in Auckland, New Zealand.
The new post is funded by the St. Augustine’s Foundation, a charity with origins at Canterbury Cathedral. The foundation was originally established by a Royal Charter in 1848 for the “provision of a college to provide an education to qualify young men for the service of the church in the distant dependencies of our Empire.”
The charity’s purposes have been updated through the years and it now works to enable the training of men and women for ministry in churches of the Anglican Communion.
“Theological education is vitally important in the Anglican Communion, as we must invest in having fully trained church leaders to share the gospel and see Christ’s kingdom grow,” said the Most Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion. “In many parts of the Communion, theological education resources and activity is constrained, so this post and Stephen’s appointment represent an important investment for the future.”
Spencer’s experience of the wider Anglican Communion includes his work as link officer for the Church of England’s Diocese of Leeds and the Anglican Church of Tanzania, where he has been a canon of St. John’s Cathedral, Musoma, since 2013.
He has made annual visits to Tanzania for the past six years, building links between churches in Yorkshire and the Dioceses of Mara. He has also lived for several years in Zimbabwe, where he served as a chaplain and parish priest.
Adapted from ACNS