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Trinity in Sydney and the Future of Theological Education in Australia

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Event description

The Rev’d Canon Dr Robert Derrenbacker, Dean of Trinity College Theological School, University of Divinity, Melbourne.

Interviewed by Dr Paul Oslington, Director of the St James Institute.

Free event in St James’ Hall to which all are welcome.

Theological education is in crisis with falling enrolments, financial challenges, and staff layoffs around the country and across all denominations. It is likely that a number of theological colleges will close or merge in the near future.

The reasons for this are not hard to find – the churches associated with most theological colleges are shrinking; there is less emphasis on formal theological study in clergy and lay training programs; rising fixed costs of accreditation; on-line learning requires high fixed costs to do it well, and colleges must do it well to compete in this market. These are but a few.

These developments raise a number of questions:

  • How important is theological training? Why study theology at all?
  • What should theological education look like for clergy and lay leaders? What about Christian school and not-for-profit leaders?
  • Does theological education have a viable business model?
  • What is the role of trusts and endowments which support colleges which would not otherwise be viable?
  • How can government regulatory and funding arrangements better support theological education? Why should governments care?
  • Can good leadership in theological education deliver a better transition than will inevitably be delivered by brutal market forces?

Throughout the discussion we will be reflecting on the place of Trinity in Sydney in these developments, and the relationship to the mission of St James’ Church.

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