Enabling Leaders & Learners

Some of the members of the 2022 graduation class of the Licentiate of Theology program at Huron. On the far left of the photo is the Rev'd Dr. Grayhame Bowcott and on the far right is Dr. Dan Smith, Dean of Theology.
By on December 1, 2022

For many faithful Christians serving in the Church today, the opportunity to attend a seminary to explore their faith and equip themselves with the theological learnings for ministry has been an inaccessible dream. For some, it’s the restraints of time, balancing work and family commitments with a schedule that can’t make room for “full time” study. For others, it’s the significant expense of post-secondary education. There are also some people who have always wondered about studying theology but have always felt that perhaps the work might be too difficult for them.

Despite these barriers, many who wonder about these questions faithfully serve in our churches. They are the steadfast lay leaders who are the backbone of small congregations. They step into the gaps when clergy are spread thin. Their care holds our faith communities together, even if sometimes their effort go unrecognized.

Over the past decade, the Diocese of Brandon has partnered with Huron University College to explore new ways of make theological education accessible. Recognizing that the Anglican Church needs to inspire learning in our congregations, affirm the leadership gifts of many already serving in our communities and equip future leaders for ministry, we have come to understand that the best way of doing this isn’t always within the traditional training received in seminary institutions. If Christians are called to “go out into the world”, shouldn’t this be the same commissioning of our theological schools too?

With deep appreciation for the pioneering efforts of Bishop William in his desire to equip leaders and learners in the Diocese of Brandon, the foundations for a new form of distance theological education were laid prior to the Covid 19 pandemic. The idea was simple: bringing passionate instructors of theology to their students and drawing on the gifts of local scholars and ministry practitioners to teach students in their own ministry contexts. A partnership was fostered between Huron University College and Brandon to bring this idea to fruition and courses began to take place beyond the walls of a seminary.

In 2020, when the Covid 19 pandemic disrupted our historic patterns of worship and ministry in Canada; theological institutions too began to explore new ways of innovation to meet the ever changing needs in ministry. Huron’s Licentiate Program had been exploring possibilities of reaching new students in remote areas across Canada and the pandemic provided the perfect opportunity for us to try a new approach to providing theological study. 

Fr. Matt Koovisk teaches his course “The Practise of Pastoral Care: Equipping Congregational Leaders” from the teaching suite at the Cathedral in March 2022.

What if we could eliminate the barriers of distance, financial burden for students and accommodate the working schedules of many potential students? Would this inspire new students to explore theological education?

In 2021, the Diocese of Brandon applied for a $10,000 grant from the Council of the North. The goal was to cover the costs of instructors in the LTh Program to then waive the tuition fees for the students attending virtual classes. A second grant was sought through the Anglican Foundation of Canada to augment the courses being offered freely to all students within the Council of the North dioceses/territories.

This is the first time that a complete range of theological courses have been offered freely in a virtual seminary program that can allow for lay leaders and postulants for ministry to access the same quality of

theological education available in seminaries, but now delivered in a format that has dropped all the barriers that made the same courses previously inaccessible.

Would this inspire new students to explore theological education? The answer is YES! Since the launch of the Brandon-Council of the North Cohort, enrolment in Huron’s Licentiate program has grown to more than 160 students from fourteen dioceses/territories across Canada. Most are first time students of theology and loving it! 

At last year’s Huron Convocation, the first Brandon students, the Rev’d Cheryl Kukurudz and the Rev’d Lorraine Bonnell, graduated with their Licentiate in Theology diploma, recognizing the completion of sixteen courses in theology. These look to be the first of many in the years to come.

Thank you to the Diocese of Brandon for your pioneering partnership in providing a new way of making theological education accessible.

Mostly importantly, if you are reading this article and wondering if courses in the Licentiate in Theology program might be a fit for you, please consider exploring more here or by connecting with the Rev’d Cheryl Kukurudz at: [email protected]

 The Rev’d Dr. Grayhame Bowcott is passionate about fostering congregational relationships and sharing our Anglican vocation with others. He serves as Program Director for the Licentiate in Theology program at Huron University College, and holds a doctorate in ministry from Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto.


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