Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Changes in Auckland

Do not come here for the news if you want to read it early!! Last Friday I was on a very pleasant bus trip with work colleagues touring some churches in my new diocese. But up in Auckland the news was breaking that Glynn Cardy, world famous for the controversy over the Christmas billboard at St Matthew's-in-the-City, will no longer be Archdeacon of Auckland. Only yesterday did I learn this news which is reported here:

"Auckland's Anglican Bishop denies sacking the Archdeacon who sparked controversy with a Christmas billboard depicting Joseph and Mary in bed.

In a letter to a parishioner, Bishop John Paterson says many people found the billboard by Archdeacon Glynn Cardy offensive.

He writes he discussed the matter with the Reverend Cardy at length and asked him to write a letter of apology to his fellow clergy ... and adds he will no longer be the Archdeacon of Auckland.

However Bishop Paterson says the position of Archdeacon was always going to come up for renewal in April and Glynn Cardy's departure has nothing to do with the billboard."

[UPDATE: in a comment below Glynn Cardy disputes aspects of this report, and explains the resignation as archdeacon as customary (i.e. upon the resignation of his bishop, pending the new bishop making reappointments).]

Let's take this at face value. The non-renewal has nothing to do with anything other than (say) time to give another priest a turn in the role ... nevertheless it is a good thing that a priest willing to publicly question the doctrine of the church with the twist of it taking the form of mocking God while sending up a belief that no one actually holds (that God impregnated Mary with divine sperm) is not in a leadership position which is at the discretion of the Bishop.

But wait, there is more. Yesterday I also learned of an interesting sea-change at St Johns College, Auckland (ACANZP's main residential theological college). Until the end of last year most students at the College enrolled for theological degree studies were enrolled for the University of Auckland's B. Theol. degree (a few were enrolled for other theological qualifications obtainable in Auckland city or by distance elsewhere, and a few are enrolled for other courses). But over the summer a signal that there would be a shift in emphasis to the B. Theol. of the University of Otago has been converted to reality: I understand that as many as twenty students at SJC are now enrolled with Otago University (i.e. the university cited in Dunedin).

Otago University for many years has provided distance learning access to its theological degrees, and it has a physical presence with some buildings in other cities. Students taking up this option at SJC will be learning via audio conferences and online communication, associated with face-to-face tutorials with SJC staff members. This is a sea-change at the College. It means that few, maybe in time no students will be learning theology away from the SJC precincts - Auckland's degree studies requiring students to commute into inner city Auckland has been a source of much discussion in our church over the past decade or so.

There is also an element of 'full circle' in this move: once upon a time students at SJC could either take L. Th. courses with SJC lecturers, or, if wishing to obtain a degree, could study for the Otago B.D. at a distance. But in those days distance learning was rudimentary: a course outline, a reading list, and turn up for examination at year's end. A man in Christ I know well decided in those days that he would be better off actually living in Dunedin and attending lectures in the Otago B.D.!!

My own professional interest in the extent of this change relates particularly to the fact that as of Monday 22nd February this year, Theology House, Christchurch will be hosting audio-conferences for Christchurch students enrolled in Otago theological courses. Start in Christchurch, finish in Auckland is a distinct possibility for Christchurch ordinands!


liturgy said...

Thank you Peter for being a place where we can find out information such as what is happening at our national seminary. It continues to astonish me that news such as this is not available. Not even at the St John's website (check under "news"!) Anglicans were not kept informed of the deterioration of the College's life. We have no idea of the percentage of ordinands training there - not even General Synod appears interested in such information! This move may help restore some more normal seminary life to St John's which appears to be swinging back from being merely a pious boarding house for Auckland University. You may be aware that from time to time I have tutored Anglican teenagers in the specially designed theology units for them - start at Christ's College, continue at Theology House, conclude at St John's. But let's not reduce normal expected seminary formation below three years. It needs to be more than just getting a good degree.



Glynn Cardy said...

To paraphrase Mark Twain: "The reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated". There is a long time Anglican etiquette in this diocese of archdeacons offering their notice of resignation when a new bishop takes office. That will happen in April. Most new bishops also continue with some/all of the current archdeacons.

As for a 'letter of apology' - I've not been asked to give one. I have written an explanatory letter to colleagues that also expresses sympathy for those who suffered unwanted and abusive phone calls due to St Matthew's actions.

Anonymous said...

Doh! I am throughly confused when it comes to theological education in NZ. Am currently studying a Diocesan recommmended course by distance where I'm being discouraged from reading scripture as a way to get to know God more. At the same time I'm being encouraged to go and study in Auckland...only to find that the course I'd be studying is actually centred in Dunedin....and could be taken in my own home town without going anywhere!
I have a massive desire to learn more about God and to be more effective in ministry and communicating the Gospel to the world. At present though it seems like most of my theological training options would be the last place to help facilitate that desire

It is all quite discouraging....

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glynn
There seems to be a sad lack of competency in Kiwi journalism then, to get so much wrong!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
It is not appropriate for me to comment on specifics of what another Diocese is asking of you.

For those of us who live near or even in Dunedin it is certainly ironic to be encouraged to go to Auckland to study in a course based in Dunedin.

But there are distinct advantages to going to St John's College: it offers community, excellent accommodation, and a fantastic library. To be a little blunt: if someone could not learn more of God's Word while at SJC I would wonder if they could learn anywhere else!

Besides, my informants tell me that one reason for going to the Otago degree is that it has more Scripture in it!!

Tim Harris said...

I tried to resist the opportunity - but failed...

In response to Anonymous - I understand there is a theological college a little to the north of Christchurch offering face to face teaching of a Laidlaw College BTheol, together with a stream on Anglican ministry formation - with a quality faculty, of course ;-)

I won't be so opportunistic as to place a web address on Peter's blog - but you might try googling 'Bishopdale Theological College' and see what you come up with...

Anonymous said...

Kiwi journalism is well-known for its unreliability. And especially biased when it comes to reporting about religion. It is interesting that the Anglican Church does not have its own media. Other denominations do.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Tim
What is the address to which I should send my invoice for your shameless advertising?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
ACANZP does have its own media, for example, http://anglicantaonga.org.nz/ .

Anonymous said...

Thank you. The site you gave makes no mention of either of your pieces of news. You say this is an example. Where is another? Where is your news mentioned by the Anglican Church media?

Anonymous said...

For first anonymous - your experience is the best possible preparation for on-going life in our church.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous (re media question)
Your comment suggested ACANZP has no media. It does and I gave an example. But you are right, the two stories are not reported on (or not yet reported on). The story about the sea-change at SJC presumably when bedded down more will be a story in either our print or web versions of Taonga. The inaccuracies in the secular media versions of the Cardy story have made that a difficult story for our (responsible) media to carry.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Dunedin - that bracing climate that encourages you indoors to study and pray! & that doughty Presbyterian spirit that prods you into taking Hebrew and Greek seriously, instead of that squishy modern stuff.
You don't have to go south to be educated, but it helps.
Meanwhile, across the little pond, Sydney reports a record number of ordinations: