When we had our national conference in Birmingham in October, the Principal of Queens Foundation, Dr David Hewlett, attended the whole conference and announced that he’s planning to include some courses especially with deacons in mind.
He already has three deacons on his staff, two Methodist and one Anglican: and the college trains Methodist deacons as well as offering general ministerial training for Anglicans and others.
Given that the vast majority of deacons get little or no diaconally-focused training, this is a real gift to the diaconate.
I asked David if he would set down for us what he has in mind, as follows.
I encourage you to print this off and either send or take what he’s offering to your diocesan training providers, and ask them for their response. Would they, for instance, consider sending a diaconal ordinand to Queen’s for the IME course (number 3) on diaconal identity etc? (It will of course come down to money, but there may be different financial pockets available to cover the cost.)
Please let me know your thoughts, either in the comments section or through the deacon email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll relay them to David for his consideration.
What Queen’s can offer“Our experience of working with other groups in ministry is that the opportunity to gather and learn from and with each other is central to any programme. (The consultation (* ie our October conference) demonstrated that graphically). Gathering for learning is likely to involve residence because deacons are widely dispersed. We have found a good pattern to be either two 2-day gatherings (one at the beginning and one near the end of a module) or 1 three day gathering.I have consistently heard two priorities (but think I heard a third interest at the meeting last month).Possible modules1. Learning about community engagement, building and empowerment. This could include several elements, e.g.:
- ministerial reflection on the practice of ministry among those who are marginalised;
- reading mission primarily through the fourth ‘mark’ of mission;
- the experience and self-understanding of deacons being ‘beyond’ the gathered church;
- to gain skills of community development, using ABCD (asset-based community development) models and/or using Citizens UK models of community engagement and empowerment.2. Apologetics which takes popular culture seriously and engages those who are ‘hard to reach’. I have in mind people like Clive Marsh, Simon Sutcliffe, Robert Beckford who could stimulate creative thinking and practice.3. The third thing I heard at the conference, and which Paul Avis helped stimulate, was learning more about diaconal identity, its history, theology and vocation. We don’t have anything on the books about this, but I don’t think it would be hard to put something together, and perhaps provide a basis for developing a resource for deacons in IME1.AccreditationFor some people accreditation of learning matters and I would want to honour that. The best way we have found to do this is to offer this learning as a post graduate certificate. Since all deacons should have completed a diploma qualification in their initial ministerial education, all can be admitted to this level. If someone doesn’t want to do so they don’t have to. The model we have developed is to offer the first module as a taster: complete it, discover you can do it, and you can count it toward your PG Cert. Complete it and realise this is not for you, and you can leave with minimal cost and no sense of failure.CostIf we were to offer two modules for a PG Cert, the first taster module would cost for £300 which includes accommodation for three or four nights; the second module has to be a more realistic price of £1,200, again including accommodation costs. Deacons would have to meet their own travel costs, and if they wanted additional overnight accommodation they would need to pay a modest rate for this (£23.50 per night for B&B).I would want to continue the conversation about whether this learning can be shared with Methodist Deacons, not only because I think it is good to enrich the group, but also because it may help form viable cohorts and keep costs down.How does all this sound?”
I look forward to hearing your diaconal responses!