Connor Training Co-ordinator Peter Hamill has had a paper published in ‘The Journal of Practical Theology’ and also online.
The article is entitled ‘Lifelong learning for ministry: Mapping the current situation and the future potential among clergy in the Church of Ireland in Northern Ireland.’
Peter, who completed a Masters Degree in Lifelong Learning in December 2008 after three years of study, based his paper on research carried out during 2008. The article was commissioned by Connor Diocesan Training Council in 2009 as an academic paper.
In his research, Peter discovered that only Connor Diocese has attempted to address the issue of structured lifelong learning – there is no central policy for lifelong learning in the Church of Ireland and as yet no resources to support such a policy.
The research was carried out in the form of a questionnaire, distributed to 304 clergy serving in the Church of Ireland with five dioceses with postal addresses in Northern Ireland.
The results are collated as follows: Participation in training, priority of training, post-ordination training, formal training opportunities (academic and non-academic), reasons for not attending more training, encouragements to attend more training, and views on sabbaticals.
One of the most striking findings related to sabbaticals – while only four per cent of clergy had taken a sabbatical in the previous 10 years, 59 per cent said they would like to take one in the coming five years.
Another significant finding was that the main reason clergy stated they cannot attend more training events is time.
Peter analyses the results of the questionnaire and in his conclusion urges the Church of Ireland to review the strategy for training beyond ordination. “Pockets of good practice appear to exist across the Church but there is not a co-ordinated approach,” he writes. “Clergy need to feel supported, and investing in their learning will enable them to develop their ministries and feel valued by their organisation.”
He goes on: “Clergy cannot undertake parish ministry alone and they cannot encourage others to develop and use their skills and gifts in ministry if they themselves are not identifying and developing their own gifts. The response to this research in itself shows the need and desire for more support in this area.”
Peter, who is a trained teacher and has worked in schools, youth work and business, is currently undertaking a PhD in the psychological type of leaders working with children in Connor Diocese.
His paper is available online by following this link: http://www.equinoxjournals.com/PRTH/issue/current.