Knowledge and Vital Piety: Methodist Ministry Education in New Zealand from the 1840s to 1988

by Thompson, Susan J.

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis examines the history of Methodist clergy training in New Zealand from the 1840s, particularly as it was carried out at Trinity College between 1929 and 1988. It explores the way Methodist theological educators struggled with the tensions between a focus on active piety and practical training on the one hand, and intellectual and academic scholarship on the other. The thesis gives a chronological account of the work of Trinity College and the training ventures that preceded it, and reflects upon the main emphases of ministry education throughout the period. Changes in the relationship between academic, practical and spiritual aspects of preparation are discussed in detail through a study of the curriculum, skill development opportunities and community life of the theological institutions. In considering the interweaving forces that shaped Methodist training, the thesis notes the critical influence of the aims and vision of the college's principals, and of the needs and concerns of New Zealand Methodism as a whole. It explores the implications for ministry education of internal tensions and shifts in emphasis within the denomination, which produced among Methodists differing priorities for church life and ministry. These factors are viewed within the context of world-wide trends in ministry training, and of social, political and economic changes often arising out of the New Zealand setting. The interaction between such imported and local forces points towards aspects of Methodism's sense of self-understanding as a church with a New Zealand ethos. The thesis reflects upon some of the outcomes of Methodist preparation, both in terms of the kind of ministry it produced, and in the way training emphases helped to shape the direction and identity of the denomination. It explores the creative, yet sometimes divisive, effects of college initiatives in such areas as biblical scholarship, worship, and pastoral understanding. The thesis also examines the particular impact of ministry education upon Methodism's Maori, women and Pacific Island students, arguing that the theological institution often struggled to acknowledge the distinctive needs of these groups. The thesis concludes that the history of Methodist ministry education from the 1840s to 1988 has been one of shifting emphases and varying combinations of priorities as, in each period, Methodists have struggled to embody in training programmes just what it means to reflect a Methodist identity.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Dr Allan Davidson; Dr John Salmon

School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2002

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