Summerland, and “Building a Bright Future”

Summerland is always a wonderful experience, and this year was no exception. Rather than review the whole weekend, I thought I’d post the discussion participated on on Saturday night. Here is the basic text of what I said at the Summerland Panel Discussion, “Building a Bright Future.”

Future Plans for Clergy Training in ADF

First of all, I have to give deep thanks to Ian, Carrion, and for the support and help that they’ve given throughout the process of creating the Clergy Training Program (CTP) up to this point. Right now, for the first time since 1998, we have a cohesive set of exit standards that one can complete and have approved that will lead to full ordination as an ADF Priest. This is one if Isaac’s central vision points: a rigorous, solid training program for our Priests that gives them an education that can be compared to mainstream religions.

That said, it is not necessarily on par with mainstream religious training for priests. We have a very long way to go.

Our training currently consists of outlines of exit standards: CTP Cicles 2 and 3 have complete guides available, but CTP 1 does not at this time. The guides for CTP 2 and 3 are in need of expansion into a real program, fleshed out to provide training, not just test it. Resources need to be consistently updated, and CTP 1, in particular, needs to be drawn into a guide that provides a lot of preliminary information and resource work.

Further, additional hands-on instruction needs to be developed: between videos of rituals and week-long (required) intensives at various points around the country, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Rubrics and exit standard clarifications need to be provided.

One place that we’ve begun to move away from is the notion of assigning remedial Dedicant Path work: rather than finding a DP “inadequate” to the CTP training, we have started to draw on the full set of courses within ADF’s various study programs and recommend additional work in order to provide further training instead of returning to old work and forcing repetition. This rests on the notion that challenging students with work that builds on previous work will bear fruit in a way that revisiting central concepts along may not. . . and will hopefully help them reinforce any core concepts that they may not completely comprehend.

I mentioned earlier that this training program isn’t perfect: it probably never will be. The original CTP Circle 1 was designed to be a bit more clergy-like than it turned out to be: this is a result of a need to pass something to get the ball rolling (it turned out that this was an excellent idea). Because of this, CTP 1 is identical to the First Circle of the Generalist Study Program, and it does not teach some skills that are probably necessary for clergy work.

To correct this, there are already plans to rebalance the CTP, to reduce the front-end weight of the academics and distribute several already-approved-but-not-required courses through the CTP in a logical way. We are patiently waiting for a few more students to work through the current program before we begin revisions, as we want to have experience behind us when we seek to revise. The current time-frame for such revisions rests at around 2011 or 2012, at which point we hope to have many more people having worked through CTP 1, 2, and 3.

There’s much to do yet with clergy training within ADF, but it is a clearly evolving (and planned) process that we have going on.

    -Rev. Michael J Dangler