Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Stretch marks on an ecclesial body: Gender and emerging expressions of faith in women and girls abstract

On the last night before going on holiday, with a mountain of work to do, why not write an abstract for a potential conference – The Faith lives of Women and Girls, Birmingham, 26-7 March, 2019. But it is, after all, Advent – a time of stretch marks when faith is being carried by the faith lives of Mary and Elizabeth.

alicia-petresc-1144261-unsplash Photo by Alicia Petresc on Unsplash

Stretch marks on an ecclesial body: Gender and emerging expressions of faith in women and girls

While birth is a significant issue for all humans, the impact of gender on faith development is under-researched. This paper examines the interplay between birth and faith development, paying attention through longitudinal research to stretch marks on the ecclesial body of an emerging church community in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Empirical data – gathered from surveys, focus groups and participant observation – showed increased rates of belonging and a sense of growth among women over time. In contrast rates of belonging and a sense of growth declined among men over time. What factors were shaping the faith lives of woman and girls in this ecclesial community?

Attention is paid in the first instance to artistic production, initially in a contemporary Stations of the Cross art exhibition, but increasingly over time through Advent in Art creative practices. Analysis of visual and verbal texts suggests a shift in faith, from deconstructed in death, to stretched through natality. For Grace Jantzen (Redeeming the Present), natality is essential to theology as it invites new beginnings characterized by embodiment, relationality, hopefulness and engenderment. All of these were more visible in Advent in Art than in contemporary Stations of the Cross.

At Easter, death and life are located in a linear and discontinuous relationship, while in Advent, life emerges amid the fear of death. At Easter, faith was resourced synchronously, with an art exhibition which gathered people at set times. At Advent, faith was resourced asynchronously, through postcards designed to be used as a daily resource in the midst of life.

The argument is that gender has an essential role in faith formation, particularly in relation to giving birth and human experience as a constructive resource. Natality becomes an important factor in theorising faith development, something that women can inhabit, yet men can only watch.

Posted by steve at 08:36 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, December 07, 2018

Congratulations to inaugural Judith Binney Trust recipients

The Judith Binney Trust has announced the recipients of the 2019 Judith Binney Fellowships and Writing Awards. They are Dr. Nēpia Mahuika (Ngāti Porou), Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Waikato; freelance writer Ryan Bodman; journalist and commentator Morgan Godfery (Ngāti Awa, Samoa); and independent historian Dr. Melissa Matutina Williams (Te Rarawa, Ngāti Maru). In making the announcements, the trustees noted they were “impressed with the quality and quantity of applications for funding in our inaugural year.”

This is worth noting because I was an applicant :)

I put in an application titled The Kingmaker’s Bible, which sought to understanding Maori approaches to religion by examining the Bible-reading strategies of the first kingmaker, Wiremu Tāmihana Tarapīpi Te Waharoa. My project sought to extend my recent research and affirm the creativity of indigenous engagement with a book (the Bible) often associated with colonisation and break new ground by locating Maori Bible-reading strategies in relationship to international scholarship, particularly that of Gerald West, The Stolen Bible: From Tool of Imperialism to African Icon and James Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. My proposal set out to make an outstanding Maori leader accessible through high-school curricula, a theology textbook and social media.

It was not to be. Not in relation to this particular pathway anyway (although I’m open to offers and imaginative suggestions). But the application process was excellent, particularly the discipline of making a funding application within the confines of 1,000 words. And my referees were very encouraging: one wrote that mine was “a superb proposal for research and a profound project.” And I’m delighted at the calibre of those who were successful recipients of the 2019 Judith Binney Fellowships and Writing Awards. I congratulate each of them and wish them all the best as they contribute to scholarly historical research and writing in this country. Finally, kudos to Judith Binney and the trustees for innovating in this way.

Posted by steve at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, November 26, 2018

You can’t eat lilies: the future of precarious work zadok column

I am a regular columnist for an Australian magazine, Zadok. Having read my film reviews for Touchstone, they requested a 860 word column every 3 months. It’s an opportunity to write a lay focused piece of theology; that keeps me working between gospel and culture. Zadok are happy for me to blog the columns I write once they are published in Australia, which makes them accessible digitally for folk in New Zealand and elsewhere.

zadoklillies So here is my spring 2018 article. The theme for Spring was Humanising Precarious Work and it became a piece of practical theology, including reflecting on my own work context, which is undergoing review and restructure, making my own future precarious.

You can’t eat lilies: the future of precarious work
Steve Taylor

I write looking out over a green field, toward a University living through a restructure. At the table beside me, a young couple discuss future work. Her best options start with gaining an overseas research contract. It’s fixed term but her partner won’t leave the country.

What might the Gospel offer them? How would they respond if I turned and offered them some words from Jesus? ‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin’ (Matthew 6:28)?

None of this is abstract. As I write, a restructure has been announced at my workplace. Suddenly my future is precarious. There are no vacancies in my city for Principals of theology colleges who teach in missiology. The fields around my house might grow green with springtime rain. But my family can’t eat grass.

Jesus’ words about lilies are addressed to precarious workers. They are part of the Sermon that begins with the poor being blessed. While Matthew’s version is more palatable to rich Christians than Luke’s, the four letter word ‘poor’ tells us just who Jesus is speaking to.

In Matthew, this Sermon to the poor includes the words: ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. This is no ritual of routine repetition, but a reality for Jesus’ listeners. Think Matthew 20:1-16, with workers for hire still waiting for work at 5pm. Think Luke 16:19-31 and Lazarus pleading for daily bread at the city gates. Jesus is speaking to the poor, dependant on precarious work.

The Sermon ends with ‘consider the lilies’. Outdoors, on the mountain in Matthew and the plain in Luke, Jesus might be pointing to the arum lily, whose root was a major source of food for the poor. It is more likely that he is making a generic reference to flowers, including the various types of crocus and cyclamen, iris and orchid. They are free, wild and gorgeous: showy, attractive flowers that burst forth in spring on the barren hills of Judean deserts (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, IVP, 1998). Those flowers were food for rabbits and goats. But never for humans. You can’t eat lilies.

Today we safety net our lives through insurance, savings and government assistance. The result of managing risk is a diminishing of faith. The daily bread of the Lord’s Prayer is spiritualised. We never see lilies from our office blocks and public transport windows.

Tomorrow’s workplace looks ever more precarious. While I write and you read, modern capitalism is hard at work, incentivising the radical unpicking of the safety nets of the 20th century. Artificial Intelligence will make anywhere from 14 to 54 percent of US workers redundant over the next twenty years. There is a 50 percent chance that Artificial Intelligence will outperform all human tasks in 45 years and automate all human jobs in 120 years. (Brennan Hoban, ‘Artificial intelligence will disrupt the future of work. Are we ready?’, brookings.edu, 23rd May 2018). This won’t be personal. Redundancies never are. But what will it mean for humanity and for Christian theology?

For Jesus, the safety net seemed to be neither insurance nor savings. Instead it was the humanity of our neighbour. Do unto others. A common purse. Share with those in need.

Whenever I think these words are simply idealism, I remind myself that hospitality has been a universal theme. For Maori, the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, a cultural value esteemed above all else is expressed in the word ‘manaakitanga’, used to describe the value of welcoming the stranger. It involves abundant hospitality and is linked with kindness, generosity and practical support.

‘Manaakitanga’ was historic. It is also remarkably contemporary. It was evident in the winter of 2017, when local Maori meeting houses opened their doors to provide temporary housing for the homeless. Cold and destitute New Zealanders can’t eat lilies. But they can experience ‘manaakitanga’.

Hospitality is a response that stretches across time and place. Sharing the gifts of the earth is a major theme in The Odyessy, while Immanuel Kant notes the place of universal hospitality in the task of being human (Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History (Rethinking the Western Tradition), 8:357).

So the advent of Artificial Intelligence will invite us to practice ‘manaakitanga’. If the future of precarious work results in greater co-dependence, then technology and innovation are a good thing, worth celebrating. With a universal wage, some will work for money, while others will enrich our worlds with art, craft, care and creativity.

Writing about the future of precarious work and amid the draining demands of a workplace restructure is a reality check. I can’t offer lilies, either to myself, my family or the young couple in the café beside me.

At the same time, ‘consider the lilies’ is in fact the radical offer of an alternative vision of a future society. It is a universal invitation to embody Maori ‘manaakitanga’ and to share the gifts of the earth among all humans.

The only way to read the New Testament is through the lens of precarious work. You can’t eat lilies. But you can live simpler, use time to love your neighbour and enter into the experience ‘manaakitanga’.

Posted by steve at 09:46 PM

Friday, November 23, 2018

Doing theology on the land of another

I took this picture last year while I was on retreat. I was struck by the words on the sign: access courtesy of land owners. I am welcomed as guest.

doingtheology

It is a reminder that as guest, I do theology on the land of another. As an act of self-location, it shapes the way I read Scripture. What does it mean for me to hear the Bible as 2nd peoples, to do theology on the land of another? The Revised Preamble of the Uniting Church of Australia affirms that the “First Peoples had already encountered the Creator God … the Spirit was already in the land revealing God to the people through law, custom and ceremony.” The Revised Preamble affirms that God was already walking country, revealing Godself before I arrived.

So last week I was working with Exodus 3. It is part of a ongoing research project, as I explore the symbol of the burning bush for church identity. Last week, I began to imagine Moses encountering God as 2nd peoples, on the land of another. The actual text notes that he led his flock “beyond the wilderness” (v 3). Angela Song, in her A Postcolonial Woman’s Encounter with Moses and Miriam (Postcolonialism and Religions), describes Moses as “the nowhere boy who became a nowhere man.” (192). Moses is raised in a culture and class not his own: a nowhere boy. Becoming an adult, Moses calls his first born son, Gershon. It means stranger, alien in foreign land.

And so in Exodus 3, “beyond the wilderness”, this nowhere man encounters God. On the land of another, Moses begins to contemplate a God of care and compassion. Moses initial response, his first articulation of a theology, includes actions. He takes off his shoes.

It is, according to Jewish scholar, Nahum Sarna, The JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus a way of showing respect and humility. On the land in which he is a stranger, feeling alien, Moses doesn’t start with ownership and possession and domination. His theology begins with respect and humility, paying attention to the God already there.

Nahum Sarna The JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus also notes the liturgical echoes, that the Jewish rabbi takes off their shoes before pronouncing the benediction (15). In response to encounter, as one prepares to leave, one shows respect and humility for land and already present faith.

Take off your shoes is the first theological act of those who locate as 2nd peoples.

Posted by steve at 12:12 PM

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The peaceful man of Aotearoa: Te Whiti

Peaceful man, Te Whiti of Parihaka
by Little Bushmen, live with NZSO

Honouring saints. This song is a mix of lament and remembrance.

It draws inspiration from the dream of peace. The dream is a “feather dream,” in honour of the Parihaka feather, a symbol of Parihaka’s passive resistance movement. For Te Reweti (Joe) Ritai, a descendent of both Te Whiti and Tohu, it originates in a story of an albatross landing on Tohu’s marae at Parihaka (here). A feather was left behind, interpreted as a link to to the Spirit falling on Jesus.

Ihowa, Jehovah God, sent that bird down to leave that feather there, as a symbol of peace, to tell them that it was time to begin their tikanga, their system.

The tikanga, the system, becomes that of peace, “To cast no stone, With wisdom to let go of difference.”

Alongside inspiration is lament. “Still we fight, turn blood to gold.” This is much more that a story from history. This is how we live now. It is about the stain of violence and the lust for wealth. The feather still sings, the Spirit still swoops, looking for those on whom it might alight, to whisper “beloved” on those who bring Te Harinui, good tidings of great joy. This was the origins of the Christian message in Aotearoa, carried on by Maori saints like Te Whiti and Tohu.

Posted by steve at 07:11 PM

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Graduate formation and life-long learning (conference abstract)

Abstract submitted -> to the SCD Learning & Teaching Theology Conference April 2019. This is KCML being research active and accountable. This is taking the hard work of 18 months of Thornton Blair Research and exposing it to “cross the ditch” peer review.

Graduate formation and life-long learning in the context of ministerial vocations
Dr Steve Taylor and Dr Rosemary Dewerse

A caricature of education involves the forgetting of what one has studied once exams are completed. This presents challenges to any talk of graduate outcomes. What to make of teacher talk regarding student futures if learners are on a stated mission to forget?

A more complex dynamic became evident in recent research into the life-long learning needs of Presbyterian ministers. Funding from Thornton Blair Trust enabled research of 280 participants in Aotearoa New Zealand. Phone interviews with 55 ministers ascertained their perceptions of future learning. General focus groups with 230 lay participants provided feedback on the interview data. Action-research tested possible learning plans with specific interest groups and experimental learning communities.

The research revealed that graduate formation has a communal character. Life-long learning needed to account not for the individual minister, but for the leadership groups and communities in which they served. Formation in practise-based modes was valued over information and existing qualifications. Participants identified peers as key learning resources, who as “human libraries” could be engaged in action-reflection modes. Graduates understood formation in relation to interpersonal dynamics, occurring in the middle of communities of practice, through processes of action-reflection and peer learning.

These graduate perspectives have important implications for the undergraduate experience. Outcomes must include skills in action-reflection and the ability to cultivate practice-based learning in communities of practice.

The data can be read theologically. In the temple, Jesus learns with those older in a dialogical community. In the encounter with the Syro-phoenician woman, Jesus’ understanding of identity and faith is challenged in the practice of ministry. Irenaues’ doctrine of recapitulation understands Jesus as one who grows in ministry. Theologically, the growth of Jesus is communal in character and formative in practice. Hence graduation formation is a communal journey of life-long learning in response to the redemptive dynamics of the Divine.

Posted by steve at 09:12 AM

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

a good news in season resource

I had a wonderful day recently with churches in Northland, offering input on mission and being church. As part of it, I worked up a new resource -

northland

I began my time by reading from Scripture – Acts 14:15-16

“Friends, why are you doing this? …. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

I noted that this about good news, and that good news was seasonal – located in relation to crops and food. I noted I was from another island and so they needed to help me with locating this Bible text in relation to their context. What were their crops? What was their current food of plenty? What was filling their hearts with joy? This was their “good news” expression of seasonal joy.

I’d had placed the “good news in season” resource on every second seat. This meant they needed to work in pairs, to “fill in the blanks.” After a few minutes and a fair bit of laughter, I invited folk to share, using the “good news in season” resource as a template. And quickly, around the room, a round of local (Northland) seasonal good news prayer of thanks were offered. The template gave it a rhythm, the different responses made it contextual.

Why?

First, we are people of praise. So this provided a way to begin our time together in grateful thanks.

Second, a practical worship resource for next time they were stuck, a way of engaging people in Scripture. So even if they got nothing more out of the day, they had at least 1 practical resource.

Third, an awareness that good news was seasonal. There is no one size fits all. Instead there is good news uniquely shaped by place and context.

Fourth, this allowed a movement toward a reflection on each of our unique stories. What is our good news story? How is it seasonal for us? And so a movement into good news as faith sharing, woven contextually into individual story.

It was a resource that worked well – to begin in praise, to form as working groups, to create a shared experience in the affirmation of the local and to provide an embodied move toward contextual theologies of evangelism and mission.

Posted by steve at 08:55 PM

Friday, October 26, 2018

Centre for the Book Symposium on Translation and Transculturation

I did some work on this today –

Translation and Transculturation in indigenous resistance: the use of Christian Scripture in the speeches of Wiremu Tamihana.

It is an academic paper I will be presenting at the Centre for the Book Symposium on Translation and Transculturation, November 1-2, 2018.

centre book symposium

This was the abstract I submitted back in early September:

A feature of Aotearoa’s history is the role of a book, the Bible, translated, to resource indigenous resistance. This is evident in the life of Wiremu Tamehana Tarapipipi Te Waharoa, tino rangatira no Ngati Hauaa I hangaia e ia te Kingitanga, who was in 1859 the first Kingmaker. In a korero opposing Governor Grey in 1861 (GBPP, 1862, 73), Tamehana deployed Deuteronomy 17:15 and Ephesians 2:13 to challenge the aggressive actions of the Crown toward Maori in the Waikato.

Translation involves the interplay between two forces: domestic and foreign (Venuti, The Scandals of Translation: Towards an Ethics of Difference, 1998). Foreign texts are domesticated in the hope of making them intelligible to specific, in this case indigenous, cultures. Ironically, once domesticated, these triumphs of translated transcultural success can generate significant cultural change (Handman, Critical Christianity, 2015). Translation theory thus provides helpful frames: individual in examining Tamehana’s use of Scripture; cultural in examining how translation shaped Maori culture. This requires paying attention to the public transcript (the translation) and the often hidden vernacular transculturation (West, The Stolen Bible: From Tool of Imperialism to African Icon, 2016).

Translation theory provides a way to honour Tamehana’s use of a translated text, including his reversal of Venuti’s categories of foreign and domestic. When Tamehana deploys Ephesians, a once foreign translation, now domesticated into te reo, is being invoked in ways that position the Crown as foreign. When Tamehana draws on Deuteronomy, he is positioning the Bible as a book that belongs to no one domesticating culture, but to an atua beyond all cultures. This “illumination from above” (Marsden, The Woven Universe, 2003) points toward a divinised transculturality.

The result is that a translated Sola Scriptura serves as a wero of challenge toward the behaviours of the culture that introduced the book. Sealer and sailor, soldier and settler are called to act ethically.

This paper is a continuation of research, writing and speaking I did last year (1 video, 4 publications, 2 conference papers and 3 talks) on the Bible reading strategies of Wiremu Tamehana. In this paper, I am taking up in particular the work of Gerald West, The Stolen Bible: From Tool of Imperialism to African Icon and looking at James Scott’s (Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts) notion of hidden transcripts as they apply in indigenous resistance.

I’m still not sure if the paper will hang together as a coherent whole come next Friday. But I’m more optimistic at the end of today than I was at the start. Which makes it a good day!

Posted by steve at 08:06 PM

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

cut to pieces – a challenging biblical text in the time of Jamal Khashoggi

As a KCML team, we gather weekly for a team meeting. Before we get down to our agenda, we share our comings and goings. We read Scripture, often the lectionary reading for that day.

The Gospel reading for today, from Luke is 12:39-48, is particularly challenging. I was tempted to skip it, but then realised how some of the worst parts actually sound so relevant. Take Luke 12:46 – The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces – a real doozy given the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, cut to pieces in a Turkish embassy. The violence of Biblical times is still with us in the 21st century.

So we decided to take up the challenge. We began with lectio divina. The Gospel reading was read twice. The first time we invited each to hear cynically. Where was the Word of the Lord in what jarred us? The second time we were invited to hear with wonder. Where was the Word of the Lord in what made us optimistic?

The discussion that resulted was rich and generous. We as KCML have been left – the optimistic reading – with the blessing of “food allowance at the proper time” (42). We have been blessed and yet, the cynical reading – we can “eat and drink and get drunk” (45) We talked about the temptations that we face – what it means for each of us, as a team and in our vocations, be faithful in this season.

Finally, I offered some thoughts from scholarship: from the helpful About Earth’s Child: An Ecological Listening to the Gospel of Luke the Earth Bible Commentary, from former colleague, Michael Trainor. It seeks to listen to Scripture through listening for ecology as an actor.

First, an endorsement of the double lectio approach – the cynical reading, followed by the optimistic reading – in the abundant cf selfish words:

Luke’s main point concerns an abundant and selfish possessiveness that creates disparity among one another and deflects the disciple from what is important: God. (189)

Second, in response to “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” (41) The call not only to focus on our relationship with God, but with each other. We are in a very difficult season as KCML, our futures not currently in our hands. And so the abundance given to us by God needs to be shared among us, in our values as a team, the way we engage with each other.

The disciples are “to take care of each member of Jesus’ household with care and respect” (190)

A challenging text. A call to be human and treat other humans, with a generous dignity. Which actually says a lot to a world in which people are being cut to pieces; physically, politically and for profit.

Posted by steve at 08:37 PM

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Mission in the rural

I’m speaking in Whangarei this Saturday, 27 October 2018.  I’m doing a keynote, as part of a new, more inclusive way of being church (among the Northland Presbytery and the Methodist Synod) in Northland.

10 to 12pm:        Mission in the rural and rugged, by Dr Rev Steve Taylor

Steve Taylor will offer Biblical, theological and practical resources for rural and small-town ministry.  The Old Testament provides a distinctive set of ways by which God’s people gather, in seasonal celebrations.  This offers imaginative possibilities for rural communities today in understanding worship, mission, community and interconnection.

Steve Taylor is Principal of Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership. Previously he served the Uniting Church of Australia as Principal and Director of Missiology.  He is author of The Out of Bounds Church? and Built for Change and has been a film reviewer for Touchstone since 2005.  Married to Lynne, he enjoys gardening, films and running beaches.

St Johns Cooperating church, 149 Kamo Rd, Kensington, Whangarei. Coffee and tea are from 9.30am.

Posted by steve at 07:35 PM

Friday, October 19, 2018

happy Steve being cited on teaching and learning

A week ago, happy Steve celebrated having two book chapters on research-led learning published in Wondering about God Together from SCD Press . (The story of how this came about is told here.)

Unknown-5

A closer read of the entire volume, all 460 pages, reveals my earlier research is being referenced in two other chapters. This is really quite cool, being cited and a useful resource in helping other theological educators reflect on the theory and practice of theological education.

In chapter 25, Integrating Theology in an age of Questioning, Les Ball uses my work which I presented at (Higher Education Research Group Adelaide), HERGA Conference, in Adelaide in 2015.  Titled – A class above: Evidence based action research into teaching that is connected, mobile and accessible in a higher education context).  Over two pages (420-421) Professor Ball uses my research on teaching and learning in relation to fostering dialogue. He affirms my work (both teaching and reflecting on that teaching) as an example of the vital role of the teacher in fostering integrative dialogue.  He also notes how I my work (both teaching and reflecting on that teaching) shows how “intentional teaching of such principles can be incorporated into the standard curriculum of any course – in systematic theology just as well as in field education” (page 421). In other words, I am providing an example/influencing the field of teaching in “the whole range of Bible, theology, history and ministry” (421) as well as more practical subjects. Applying my work (both teaching and reflecting on that teaching) can “help to produce graduates who can appropriate such principles and take them into their ministry and general life.” (421).

In chapter 24,  Theological education in context: Exploring the Delivery of Theological Education in a Multi-cultural setting, Bruce Allder uses my work in reflecting on teaching theology in Fiji, with the aim of offering a “missional approach to theological education that keeps contextuality as an important element alongside content, character and competency” (393).  Allder uses my research in  “Embodiment and transformation in the context of e-learning,” Learning and Teaching Theology: Some Ways Ahead, edited by In Les Ball and J. Harrison, Morning Star, 2014, 171-18.

Allder noted my argument that e-learning enables the student to remain in much closer proximity to their ministry context and thus increased the possibility of application (403).  Using my research, Allder concludes that “integrative learning does introduce a degree of complexity not found in a decontextualised approach.” (404) Reflecting on his own teaching, in realised that video conferencing “promoted student engagement and has improved the quality of work presented.” (404).  This is because it was used by students to discuss assessment together, which “minimised feelings of being overwhelmed.” (404).

So happy Steve – not only in writing two book chapters for Wondering about God Together, but in realising that my earlier work is being an exemplar and an encouragement to others in their journey of teaching theological education.

Posted by steve at 05:44 PM

Friday, October 12, 2018

3 years in: a KCML post-it progress update

I began as Principal of Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership 3 years ago today. This very day – newly back in New Zealand, new to Dunedin, new to the Presbyterian Church of Aoteroa New Zealand, I nervously approached the large, foreboding doors of the Hewitson Wing.

My first day/lectionary text is recorded here, my first staff devotional here and my end of first week “three words” reflections here.

An anniversary is a good a time as any for reflection, so I took a bit of time to write some poetry this morning, while this afternoon I pondered the KCML Strategic plan. The Strategic plan was approved by Council of Assembly in June 2016 and was effectively my first 9 months of work, across the 5 geographic Presbyteries and 3 Synod’s, engaging, listening, testing various parts.

The KCML strategic plan involves 4 key directions.

  • contextually agile ministers (Nationally ordained) – ensuring training prepares people for a diverse New Zealand, across cultures and generations.
  • innovation through New Mission Seedlings – building capacity across the church by forming long-term local site partnerships between Presbytery, KCML and various funding groups in order to nurture fresh expressions of faith as locations for training of ministers, leaders and learning for the wider church
  • national learning – finding ways to provide leadership resourcing for all ministry agents in the Presbyterian Church
  • lifelong learning – resourcing existing ordained ministers as the world changes rapidly

Since then, the decisions of General Assembly 2016 have added a further direction

  • the resourcing of Local Ordained Ministers

Three years in; and just over 2 years on from gaining the green light from Council of Assembly, there has been progress across all areas. Each post-it is an explanatory blog post in its own right, but there is a pleasing spread of colour and activity. There is also increasing overlap, as Lighthouse innovation incubator weaves into the New Mission Seedlings and the livinglibrary website becomes a locator for both national learning and lifelong learning.  There is much that beckons into 2019.

Unknown-6

Alongside the visibility of post-it notes of progress, there has been lots of other activity as the KCML team have sought to be faithful to the call of the church. In some ways, this has been the most complex thing to navigate. The strategic plan has come on top of existing activity. Without additional people resources – in fact with diminished people resources – we’ve struggled to balance priorities from the past alongside the pressures of the present and the possibilities of the future.

Posted by steve at 02:07 PM

First expressions book contract

Another happy Steve moment.

signingbook

I’ve recently signed a book contract with SCM Press, for a book on sustainability and innovation. The provisional title is First Expressions: emerging movements in mission. It will be drawing on my longitudinal research on new forms of church ten years on. I’m particularly interested in what we learn from those who try/play/experiment and how we theorise the tension between durability in cultures of continuity and fail fast in cultures of discontinuity.

I’ve had the empirical data for a while and the UK trip in June included the opportunity to connect with SCM editor, David Shervington who reached out on twitter and then graciously accommodated my lateness as the British Library refused me entry because my suitcase was too large.  A book proposal and 2 draft chapters, some back and forth and SCM said yes a few weeks ago.

I never imagined writing one book, yet alone three, so I’m pretty pleased.  I’m due for some sabbatical time February through May 2019, so the timing is perfect, with the full manuscript due to SCM in May.  In the meantime, I have a few other deadlines to complete (ducking to hide from Jione Havea and Christine Woods).

Posted by steve at 11:24 AM

Thursday, October 11, 2018

2 book chapters on learning and teaching

Wondering about God together, edited by Les Ball and Peter Bolt has just been published. At 460 pages, it is an extraordinary resource.  In the 2007-2012 period, the Australian Council of Deans of Theology had a research focus on learning and teaching of theology in Australia.

“much of that literature reported on earnest aspiration …. What is particularly heartening about this current volume is the growing report of active implementation and initial attainment, a sense of: ‘This is now actually happening’. (xxii)

Two of the book chapters are mine. So I’m happy.

Unknown-5

One chapter  (“Researching the future”) explores the role of research in teaching practice.

Another chapter (“Curiousity and Doubt”) analyses the role of flipped learning in theological innovation.  One of the editor’s Les Ball waxes eloquent, describing this chapter as a

“worthy conclusio to the entire conversation … incisive insights … skillfully demonstrated … warrants close and repeated attention .. as a finale … cogently continue the conversation in pressing the case for ongoing reform towards student-centred curricula.” 

So there we are. That’s me.  Incisive :).

My 2 chapters took shape as 2 keynote presentations I was invited to give in Sydney in April 2017.  Two academic keynotes is a lot of work but I had two deposits I wanted to mine. The first was my 2015 Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching. That had required a 5,000 word submission and I was looking for a way to do “double work” on those words, to use the work done for a panel of judges in another context. That was the basis for the “Curiousity and Doubt” chapter, which includes 6 pages of appendices of my teaching resources (in colour!).

Second, the Award included $5000 to spend on things teaching related. So I asked if I could use that in relation to research assistance, particularly in relation to the chapter on “Researching the future”, in which I wanted to have a literature review of recent outputs on research in teaching practice.  This involved working with a colleague, Rosemary Dewerse and hence the two chapters are co-authored with her.

The book has 26 chapters and is available from Sydney College of Divinity (also Book Depository).

Posted by steve at 05:35 PM