Bishops' Training Institute 4 Report...
The programme was rich, Spirit-filled, inspiring, encouraging, Bible-based and heart touching. It addressed relevant issues of the contemporary church and even the future. “Umu emela” (Igbo way of saying: You people have done well)
The fourth Gafcon Bishops Training Institute was held in Limuru, Kenya from 1st-10th October 2018, where 24 bishops and 15 wives attended from a variety of countries including the UK, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Sudan, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Democratic Republic of The Congo, Tanzania and South Africa.
The Purpose of the fourth BTI
The aim of BTI 4 was to strengthen their orthodox and biblical belief, and practice of new Anglican bishops through encouraging confidence in the teaching of Scripture as a framework for their lives and mission. This was to be achieved by a programme which had specific learning outcomes. Through participating in this programme, the aim was that the bishops and their wives would be able to:
- Evaluate the importance of Gafcon as a vehicle for maintaining the authority of Scripture for the life, practice and belief of the global Anglican church
- Incorporate practices to the ministry and mission of their dioceses that enhance the biblical nature of its life and mission
- Build habits and patterns of ministry that will sustain their spiritual and psychological growth during their ministry as a bishop
- Network with other participant bishops to build fellowship and learning by sharing their experiences
- Construct a personal philosophy of episcopal ministry from biblical principles
- Create new approaches and bring change to their ministry as bishops by applying a biblical critique to their context of episcopal oversight
How did we make BTI 4 better?
Since the last BTI, the following changes were made:
- Bishops, wives were to accompany their husbands
- The programme was diversified to offer the wives of bishops the opportunity to strengthen their own roles as leaders in the diocese
- Teaching on the historic theological foundations of the formation of the church of England were introduced in to the teaching programme
- Morning devotions were based on the 'English Prayer book'
- The daily programme was opened with an exposition on Ephesians
- A book stall was made available
The institute was opened by the Vice Chairman of Gafcon, Most Rev Stanley Ntagali, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda. The Archbishop of Kenya, Most Rev Jackson Olé Sapit spoke on biblical leadership for mission and retired Archbishop Eluid Wabukala addressed the bishops on the importance of evangelical preaching. Throughout the training there were sessions led by Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood, James Stileman, Rt. Rev Andy Lines, Hon Rt. Rev Dr Lamido, Mrs. M Lamido, Rt. Rev. Samson Mwaluda, Most Rev Eluid Wabukala, Rev Agatha Mwaluda, Rev Dr Dennis Tongoi, Rt. Rev. Charles Muturi, Dr Gladys Mwiti, Mrs Emily Holmertz, Dr Caroline Seed and Rev. Dr Dick Seed.
Each day began with Morning Prayer and exposition from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. The daily sessions comprised teaching and discussion on the practical and spiritual aspects of the bishops' work. This included sessions on leadership, spirituality, stress management, conflict resolution, finance, administration, mission and diocesan growth as well as teaching on the historical doctrines of the Anglican church and Gafcon. During the institute, special attention was given to thinking about the theology and practice of theological education and the bishops' vital role of teaching. Most of the dioceses expressed the need for assistance in training theological educators for their colleges and lay training programmes, so the bishops committed to pray for and take the next steps towards developing a plan for theological training at appropriate levels in their dioceses.
What did the bishops find the most useful?
Particular sessions that were deemed helpful were:
- Episcopal leadership for the growth of the church
- Administration and planning for busy bishops
- Priorities in theological education
- Building capacity for theological education
- Conflict transformation in the Diocese
During the institute, bishops were given a set of theological books to assist them in their ministries, which was especially important for bishops from countries where good Christian books are not widely available.
What did the bishops' wives find helpful?
A highlight of BTI 4 was the inclusion of wives in the sessions. There were sessions where the wives were able to learn and discuss the practicalities of their role and gain theological understanding:
- The role of a bishop’s wife
- Chronological Bible storytelling - a useful tool for teaching the gospel
- Episcopal leadership for the growth of the church
Some of the women brought handcrafts from their diocesan women’s programmes to sell. The host diocese, Mount Kenya South, took orders for clerical garments, made for the bishops by the women from the Mothers Union. On Sunday, the bishops and their wives were invited to officiate in local parishes. They returned filled with joy at the reception they were given. Some had opened new facilities and others had even baptised new Christians from the Masai community.
It was indeed a refreshing moment in the presence of God…. The program was rich, Spirit filled, inspiring, encouraging, Bible based and heart touching. It addressed relevant issues of the contemporary church… Nigeria
It was really [a] life enriching, full with encouragement in faith. South Sudan
To God be the Glory!