Waiapu Diocesan Theologian

July 10, 2009

Where to Start?

Filed under: Starting Points — howardpilgrim @ 5:10 pm

Here are some of the immediate tasks I face in the first few months of my new half-time job as Waiapu Diocesan Theologian, in no particular order

Learning Blogging, for one thing…

Although I have posted comments in other people’s blogs, which is a good way to get familiar with the territory, this is my first actual blog! You may have noticed it has been a week or two since my first posting – the time between has involved a lot of background reading, on blogging in general as well as exploring the features of WordPress software.  Now I am almost ready to roll … any helpful hints from experienced bloggers along the way will be most welcome. What’s more, if you are a blogging novice like me then you may feel less nervous about adding a comment, knowing that you are in sympathetic company.

Getting Around and Meeting People

The most important task I face for the rest of 2009 is talking with as many  people as I can within the diocese on the topic of theological education.  I have a strong sense that this is an area of our common life in which something is seriously lacking. David Rice our new bishop obviously agrees with me, as do other key diocesan leaders, or else I wouldn’t have landed this job.  Anglicans often like to think of ourselves as “Thinking Christians” … but do we really deserve such a label?

What is your opinion?  Do you see your church as a community of scholars  that encourages all its members to engage in life-long learning about the Christian faith? If it is not like that, do you want it to be? What would you like to learn more about? What do you wish others knew more about?  What are you able to teach others?  These are some of the questions I will be asking you when I corner you soon.  Of course you could save me the trouble by starting to share your thoughts in the comments box below …

Another thing the bishop has helpfully done is asking me to take over some of Erice Fairbrother’s duties as regional ministry convener in the Southern and Central Hawkes Bay region for the next three months while she is on study leave. I agreed only because this will give me opportunities to explore the life in the one part of our diocese I am least familiar with, observing what is going on, chatting with people about their needs and resources, and using this experience as an initial sampling of the wider diocesan situation.

Setting up a Study Centre

An integral part of my long preoccupation with theological study has been my almost compulsive buying of books, especially in my major interest area of biblical studies: at the last estimate, somewhere over 1500 volumes! This was not only driven by my natural acquisitiveness, but also by my need to overcome our relative isolation, in New Zealand, from the academic resources available in other parts of the Western world.  I do not want these treasures to be buried with me when I die, and nor do I want them sent off to some second hand bookshop to get lost or dispersed.  So I have offered them to the diocese to form the nucleus of a shared library. Others are hereby invited to offer their contributions to this common pool, and we are budgeting for ongoing spending to extend the stock and keep it up to date.

Dean Helen Jacobi has offerred the use of some of those rooms out the back of the cathedral where the diocesan offices used to be, and once we get them cleared of someone else’s precious junk, (the cathedral archives was that?) we can set up a proper study centre where you will be most welcome to drop in at your convenience, to read, to borrow, or to consult an evergrowing set of online resources.

A Structured Teaching Programme

Well, that will come next year, after we have surveyed the diocese’s needs and resources, and recruited some people who are both willing and able to teach others.  Much as I enjoy teaching theology,  I do not propose to do it all myself …


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