Wow - time certainly flies! I can't believe that it's been 12 days since I last got the opportunity to do any blogging. I guess that happens when you're in wall-to-wall lectures and have a gazillion assignments to submit. Anyway, here's an update on what's been happening over the last couple of weeks.
Firstly, I had a GREAT meeting yesterday with Dr Simanga Kumalo from UKZN concerning my proposed doctorate - not only because he is one of the nicest men I have ever met, but also because of his obvious excitement about my proposed research topic. The tricky bit may be that I have my Masters in financial management rather than in theology, but it doesn't sound like this is insurmountable. As things stand at the moment, Dr Kumalo has indicated that he will start the ball rolling on Theology's side by talking to his colleagues, while my job is to make contact with Commerce to sound them out on the idea. The whole process is not quite as simple as falling off a 1300 Kawasaki, but then I'm told that getting going with doctoral studies tends to be like that. However, Michael Stone, the minister at Prestbury (who is also currently busy with PhD studies) told me something quite encouraging - he said that once you are accepted for doctoral studies, you cannot fail; you can only quit.
Secondly, I'm expecting some rather nasty correspondence any day from Anthony Tibbit at MCO because I STILL haven't managed to finish my preliminary assignment on the King III project I've been working on for the MCSA. (Not entirely true - Anthony is not the sort to send out nasty correspondence, even though I deserve some right now!) I'm really hoping to make some headway with it over the coming weekend, so that I can make a (belated) delivery on my promise. Suffice to say that the scope of the exercise far exceeds my initial estimate, with the document running to 43 pages, and counting...
Thirdly, I'm pleased to report that my resolution on the stationing process was accepted by our Circuit Quarterly Meeting last Monday, with only one amendment. While I was pleased that the meeting saw fit to endorse the proposed changes (which deal mainly with pastoral concerns around stationing, as well as the amendment of certain clauses that contain discriminatory elements based on gender), some of my colleagues expressed concern that my proposals go against the spirit of our itinerant ministry, where we have promised to "go where we are sent". My response was that it was not my intention to create a structure whereby ministers can "cherry-pick" their stations, but rather to open up space for pastoral dialogue. Given the size of our Connexion, I can't see how a body such as the Connexional Executive, even with the best will in the world, can have intimate knowledge of each and every minister's personal circumstances. However, District Bishops and Circuit Superintendents are more closely acquainted with the ministers under their oversight, and opening up channels for dialogue would assist the Church to carry out its pastoral responsibility towards its clergy. Of course, this doesn't mean that the proposals will automatically be accepted by the wider MCSA - it first has to go through our Synod in May, and if accepted there, onward to Conference in September. The wheels of bureaucracy tend to turn rather slowly in big organisations such as ours.
Finally, this coming Sunday I get to preach for the first time since Christmas Day 2009! I can't believe that I went from doing two services a Sunday to one service a quarter, but such is the nature of being in seminary. I suppose, to be fair, trying to accommodate 78 seminarians in the surrounding churches can't be an easy task, especially since the resident minister and local preachers also need their slots! I guess this is also part of what Ross means when he says that we "need to learn to be disciples before we can be sent out as apostles".
Mercy of God - In this season of Advent let us not forget that it was the 'tender mercy of God' that orchestrated the birth of Jesus. Zechariah composes a wonderful song...
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