Theological Education, Formation, and Training (TEFT)
TEFT “produces leaders, both lay and ordained, who are formed in Christian character, who have appropriate levels of competence, and who are able to serve in the diverse contexts of the Church.”
In many ways our mission statement says it all! However, TEFT’s history goes back more than two decades, when the need for other than residential academic training emerged to prepare people for ministry. It transpired that not everyone discerned to have a vocation was able to go to a residential college. New ways of training had to be considered.
Fr John Stubbs was Dean of Studies. Under his guidance a local programme of study and preparation developed, using the Theological Education by Extension College approach. His fine work was continued by Fr Karl Groepe, who established an efficient administrative structure which is used to this day.
Between Fr Groepe and the present Dean of Studies, Dr James Harris, there was a four year gap, during which the Diocese of Cape Town was restructured. TEFT was critically assessed by a task team. In 2006 the task team recommended that TEFT continue with a full-time Dean of Studies. Dr Harris was appointed in a part-time capacity in 2008 and full-time in 2010.
Fr Harris was an Associate Rector of St John’s Wynberg, and minister-in-charge of Emmanuel Church, Ottery Road, Wynberg, for 17 years. He earned his PhD from the University of Cape Town. Jim has tutored Old and New Testament within the TEE programme since 1996.
Coming back to the mission statement, at the heart of our work is the formation of the individual as a Christian, a follower of Jesus, one who has the ‘character’ of Christ. A person who is godly, holy, honest, and compassionate is usually the kind of person who then can be skilled to become an effective priest and leader in any of the diverse ecclesial settings within the Diocese.
There are five major sections to TEFT:
- The discernment process is called ‘Fellowship of Vocation’. This under the guidance of Fr Anthony Langenhoven, Rector of St Cyprian’s Church, Retreat. FoV meets on the second Saturday of each month. Each month a different topic is presented and discussed. All the themes relate to the life of the Church and are aimed at helping the people grow in their discernment of a vocation.
- The academic training is termed ‘Central Tutorial Day’. Fr Derek Pratt, Rector of St Paul’s Rondebosch, oversees this division. CTD meets every third Saturday of the month. All those working with TEE gather on this Saturday for seminars with qualified tutors. Tutors do not lecture but rather engage with the students helping them understand their material.
- Then there is ‘Post-ordination Training (euphemistically called ‘potty training’!). This has two features to it: one is the practical training (weddings, funerals, preaching, baptisms, etc) which a new priest receives from the Rector of the parish he or she serves in; the second element is a monthly meeting with experienced people developing the priest’s spiritual sensitivities. Currently, Professor Denise Ackermann oversees this second section.
- Fourthly there is Continuing Ministerial Education, which currently means further academic study. There are plans to offer short term courses in a variety of practical subjects. The Dean of Studies is developing this. He is also working with the Universities of Stellenbosch and Western Cape on a number of projects;
- Finally, training for lay ministers falls within the Department’s purview. Fr Keith Griffiths, from Christ Church, Constantia, has recently created a new programme that has the Bishop’s sanction. The pilot course was very well received. The content of these courses focus on aspects of ministry the laity within Anglican churches exercise.
I hope this overview whets some appetites!
Canon James Harris, PhD (UCT)
Dean of Studies
021 469 3767