Institute Council: Bringing in the May

The Rev Canon Elaine C Garman, a Member of the Institute Council, which governs the Scottish Episcopal Institute, sums up the Council’s meeting of Monday 27 May 2024:–

The Scottish Episcopal Church Institute Council gathered at Forbes House in Edinburgh for an in-person meeting, the first non-virtual gathering since the COVID pandemic in 2020. The Council will continue to meet with a combination of virtual and in-person/hybrid modes. The Council, as usual, takes an overview of the life and governance of the Institute.

Like any congregation, whilst there might be a common flavour to their life together, there are distinctions between members and their situations. The student body of SEI is no different. They are all responding to God’s call, but their circumstances, gifts, prior learning and experiences vary. The meeting of Council highlighted some of those distinctions, and its response will help to increase transparency and positive student-centredness. For students in Initial Ministerial Education Phase 1 (IME 1), work has begun to make clearer information on funding and financial support available throughout training. More work will be undertaken to understand how each of the Dioceses approach this and what else might need to happen for the SEC to respond equitably to student needs.

Similarly, the prior learning with which a student enters their three years of formation as an ordinand or lay reader candidate in IME 1, from little previous theological education to those with higher/advanced degrees in relevant subjects, greatly differs. It was agreed that those in the latter category would have the opportunity to focus their studies in formation at the academic level they have previously achieved over the three-year SEI programme. This will be accomplished by internally accredited work.

The meeting also took stock of a milestone reached with Initial Ministerial Education Phase 2 (IME 2) training, that is, curacies and the three initial years of a lay readers’ ministry, now embedded within an integrated pathway from IME1 through to IME 2. It is an important achievement, but whilst acknowledging the attainment, it is also vital to continue to gather wisdom from training incumbents, curates and lay readers as to how best to meet current and future cohorts’ training needs.

Having welcomed Dr Ros Brett, lay reader in the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles, attending her first Council meeting, we also said ‘goodbye’ to a number of people whilst thanking them all for their contributions, which for some was over a considerable number of years. Those leaving Institute Council with all our blessings were: Mrs Laura Symon, student rep as she graduates, and, all on their retirements: Council member Rev David Paton-Williams, Rev Canon Ian Barcroft, Provincial Director of Ordinands, and Mr John Stuart, the SEC’s Secretary General.

Photo courtesy of Paul Williams and John Stuart