The Director of the Church Of Ireland Theological Institute, Rev Canon Maurice Elliott, is currently spending time with Keith and Lyn Scott at St John's Seminary in Zambia. He reflects on a busy first weekend...
It has been an immense privilege to spend the past number of days at St John’s Anglican Seminary, Kitwe, Zambia. The visit came about as the result of a conversation, at his request, with Keith Scott in Dublin last January, and has been made possible through generous funding from the St. Augustine Foundation of the Anglican Communion.
St. John’s finds itself at a crucial point of transition. Recently, the college has acquired a quite remarkable collection of books, donated by the Episcopal Divinity School, and for which there is currently no suitable building. In addition, subject to making progress with this primary necessity of a new library, the college is actively exploring the possibility of developing an entirely new, and more broadly-based programme of theological training - this could allow for more students to be trained simultaneously and would equally consider the provision of lay-training. It has been thrilling to hear the passion of those who are responsible for trying to realise what now will be necessary if any of this aspiration is to be realised, and I take this opportunity to pay a warm tribute to all who serve here.
Beyond acting as a critical friend, seeing whether more practical support can be offered from the resources of CITI, and advocating on behalf of St. John’s towards those may be in a position to provide strategic and financial assistance, the main purpose of the visit has been to undertake some direct teaching with the ordinands.
These opportunities have been a great source of mutual encouragement and joy. The students are in very good spirits in spite of the many challenges that they face, they are well-grounded in their own sense of calling and equipping by God for the various tasks of ordained ministry, they are prayerful, thoughtful and impressively disciplined.
In short, I find myself genuinely persuaded by the calibre of who they are and of the real potential which they will offer for the future growth of the Anglican Church in this Province. It may well be that they have appreciated a fresh voice to which to listen, but the greater learning has been mine. In St. John’s I have witnessed a community of learning and fellowship with a true heart for serving Jesus Christ, a willingness to follow his call no matter the cost, and a desire to see people won to a living faith in him.