Institute Council in Action

The Rev Canon Elaine C Garman, a Member of the Institute Council, which governs SEI, sums up the Council’s meeting of Monday 22 January 2024:

A new year, and new people to welcome to the Institute Council (IC). The Very Rev Margi Campbell, Provost of Oban Cathedral, attended as a member of Council, and Rev Dr Anna-Claar Thomasson-Rosingh was also welcomed, having come into post as Director of Studies on 1 December 2023.

The first agenda item emphasised valuable learning in ministry – that it is important to try things, but they are not always going to work. IC noted that a planned student-led social entrepreneurship project was not going ahead after all.  The planned project, in collaboration with Brazilian partners, Centro de Estudos Anglicanos (CEA), selling Brazilian craft items in Scotland with profits returned to Brazil, was no longer felt by students and staff to be sustainable. Partnership working, in this instance, did not translate to success but demonstrated to the students and us all that there is much to learn when developing social entrepreneurship and missional skills. Crucially, we keep trying. The overall relationship with CEA and SEI will continue.

Three initiatives were agreed in principle, with more work to be completed to ensure that they are executed well. The first concentrated on recharging the academic and teaching batteries of the fulltime SEI staff and the agreement of a study-leave policy. The critical aspect of this will be to give sufficient time away from the rigours of the job to work on a project agreed by the Management Committee (Board of Studies). This may be research or writing, for example, authoring a chapter of a book. It is anticipated that any such leave would be agreed on a rotational basis across the staff complement. IC looks forward to seeing a full proposal at its May meeting. The second piece of work concerns student finances and the need for clear information on the implications of the differing routes for training. It was acknowledged that none of this is easy as individual circumstances vary as well as the range of training options now available, for instance, fulltime, parttime, mixed mode, stipendiary, non-stipendiary. It was also identified that clarity is required for students, vestries and dioceses over the payment and value of different expenses—robe grant, book grant and transport costs. IC are keen that this work is completed for 2024–25. The Student Chapter was thanked for raising what can be a sensitive area. Lastly, the students brought forward the usefulness in reflecting on the discernment for training process. Whilst there is a debrief by the Diocesan Bishop when the outcome of the process is known, it was also felt that there was a need for further reflection in the months after that decision, suggested at the six-month period. All this is good practice for a life of discernment and reflection!

Finally, noting all the good participation and discussion it was highlighted that IC would benefit from a wider membership. If reading this, you wonder whether you have relevant skills and expertise for this dynamic Council, please do not assume that it is someone else’s gifts that are needed!  Bishop Andrew would be most willing to be contacted. As discussed above, continual discernment of gifts is vital!

Photo courtesy of Rev Canon Elaine Garman