"What could clergy formation look like if we moved out of the residential seminary paradigm? How could we make it more effective? What might it look like?" Derek answers with a carefully thought-out proposal. I can't do it justice with excerpts, but here are a few to whet your interest:
... I propose that cathedrals return to their classical rota with modifications for our age and situation.
Cathedrals would offer Morning Prayer, a noon Mass, Evening Prayer, and an evening Mass (perhaps the Sunday evening service could be a Solemn Evensong). These services would be timed for the convenience of the business people who live and work in the surrounding environs and would be staffed and run primarily by the aspirants .... They would serve as the acolytes, the servers, would lead the Offices, and the second and third year aspirants would assist the priests in delivering the homilies at the Masses (perhaps as often as once a week per aspirant). Even if they served no other function in the service, they would be expected to vest and sit in the choir. Naturally, they would also assist at Sunday and Holy Day services.
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I propose that Dioceses cut their staff by two-thirds across the board (this would vary a bit based on number of staff and allocations, of course). The aspirants would then fill in on a rotating basis, cycling between various committees or areas of work in increments stretching from months to years depending on interest, aptitude, and growing edges. Guided by experienced personell, they would assist in all stages of diocesan planning and administration in addition to answering phones and scrubbing toilets.
As a result of their work, they would gain a sense of just what diocesan officals can and cannot accomplish. They would develop a feel for the strengths and weaknesses of their local situation. Too, they would get to know the clergy and parishes across the diocese through daily interaction as they seek to implement diocesan goals.
In addition to diocese level projects, senior students could also work on convocation level projects that would bring aspirants from several neighboring dioceses together to concentrate on regional problems.
While some readers might feel hesitant about unleashing complete newbies on the diocese, I will remind you that the seminarians of today are unlike those of twenty or thirty years ago. Many are second-career people entering from the business world. ...
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The various tasks of administering the diocese, running workshops for clergy, advancing developmental goals, and conducting business period would be the context for the academic studies. Instead of occurring in a university model that privileges ideas and often lacks connection to application, application would take a front seat.
Specific learning projects would take place in service of various practical goals. For instance, a group of aspirants and permanent staff might be charged with developing a curriculum for a major diocesan youth event. The group might spend a period of four months planning in conjunction with a professor of Christian education at the Austin seminary and a professor of biblical studies at General, communicating view the Internet and distance learning tools like video conferencing and such. ...
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Under this model, seminaries would still exist but would have an altered role. Professors would still be teaching students on a regular basis in the core curriculum classes and in diocesan projects. The students just would not be residential. If anything, professors might well interact with more students than under the current model, but for shorter lengths of time.
Locating professors together in an academic environment would still be important. Academic work occurs best in an academic environment. The seminaries would maintain libraries and resource centers. ...
Definitely read it all.