Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Seminary is Open

The end of quite a tiring weekend - but not as bad as I thought it would be! The seminary ceremonies have happened. The dedications done, the speeches made. I think it all went well.

I was challenged by the colloquium on Saturday night where Dr Simanga Kumalo and Dr Greg Jones spoke on 'Forming Transforming Leaders for Church and Nation', which is the seminary's mission statement. I would love to have this sort of engagement more often - but it is still too diffuse. We try to cover too much ground in too little time. It is good to be talking and I see the possibility of doing more!

I also enjoyed being with, and seeing John van de Laar 'do his thing'. He wrote the liturgies for the services and was on hand to keep everything running smoothly. He is an inspiration.
Thanks John, you touched me!


Ian said...

Knowing you and Bruce and Stephen, and seeing you, and celebrating there with you, was a special thing. It personalised the experience for me.
I am honoured and excited to know some of those who are already being shaped by what God is doing in that space.
Bless you.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I've come across the term "Transforming Leaders" a few times now. What does it mean in the context of the SMMS mission statement?

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Thanks Ian - glad you could be there!

Mark - I have to answer that I don't honestly know, and no doubt the seminary president would be disappointed in me. But also in a sense we are engaging in that discussion to find its meaning in our South African multi-cultural context. Dr Kumalo, head of theology at UKZN, says 'transformation is changing reality'. That sounds a bit obvious, but it speaks to me. The ambiguity comes in that I'm not sure what we are transforming - the way we do church, or society. Most seminarians want a change in society, but not all want a change in the way we do church. I guess our president might say that we want to see a change in values in both church and 'nation' from negative to optimistic, from self-interest to holy. And so on. I guess there is a link to the American idea of 'transformational leadership' too.

Anonymous said...

:). I think your response is insightful and yet at the same time raises more questions in my unsettled mind.

How did the whole "animal sacrifice" go down? I thought I’d ask you before I shot my mouth off (although I must admit I think I've already got my finger of the trigger).

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Mark - to my mind the whole 'animal sacrifice' turned out to be a damp squib. There was no hint of any sort of syncretism and I do believe that the seminary is very aware of that danger. On the other hand, it didn't properly engage the African traditions either. In the end, a cow was killed on our premises and we ate it. As an attempt to come together as westerns and Africans. So much more that could be said and done - but the time may not yet be right.

Thomas Scarborough said...

Transforming and transformational are often equated.

I recently defined this for a paper: "Christian Transformational Leadership is leadership which declares a Biblical or Christian foundation, or is specifically directed to the Church. It holds that a leader's vision, character, persuasiveness, and ability to strategise guarantee that he or she will be influential (or transformational) to achieve shared goals."

In South Africa, however, there may be a special interpretation of transforming or transformational leadership. According to the ANC, it is leadership which focuses on the promotion of “a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society”. Yet compare that to the "universal" definition above which arguably (there has been much debate surrounding this) would include people like Hendrik Verwoerd as a transforming leaders. Bass and Steidlmeier sought to address this in a seminal paper of 1998.

I would consider that the mission statement "Forming Transforming Leaders for Church and Nation" is unfortunate. Without going into detail now, it is too ambiguous, too connotational, and gives the appearance of being tendentious with regard to theological trends.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Thomas - I thought you would have something to say on this one! I must admit that I somewhat naively take the word transforming in its pure English sense (which allows Hendrik Verwoerd). I also think that it is not the greatest word to use in a mission statement - ambiguous as you say, no one really knows what it means - and also because it is just picking up on a leadership buzz word that is not going to have enduring significance. But, I'm trying to work with the seminary and its ideas to make whatever small contribution I can, so I want to be positive!

Thomas Scarborough said...

It’s merely a mission statement on the one hand, and it is the reality behind it that matters, which was no doubt revealed by Drs. Kumalo and Jones. At the same time, it is the “sign” of the seminary, and as a non-insider, it immediately had me flummoxed. Hopefully there would be many whom it helps.

The problem, for me, went way beyond the term “transforming”, which In Southern Africa has two major definitions, and may be applied both to apartheid and post-apartheid leaders. The phrase “church and nation” had me confused at first pass, seeming to equate church and nation or state. It could, I thought, refer to dominionism or postliberalism – or to various ideologies, not least to old apartheid notions. The term “formation” is applied as standard both to guerillas and to Roman Catholic novices – and there is further the major question as to whether it should represent imitation or inspiration. And so on.

Perhaps SMMS could introduce a course: “The mission statement: Opening up a thousand possibilities.” :-)

Jenny Hillebrand said...

I think that SMMS is at the moment being led by 'visionaries'. They are people who have taken an impossible dream and brought it to fulfilment - and this has been some undertaking. I hope - and if God is truly involved, I expect - that the next thing will be to staff the seminary in such a way as to produce academic excellence, people who could respond well to your comments. Time will tell.

Thomas Scarborough said...

Hopefully people who represent the grassroots, the people, the Body, and the diversity of the Body. Yes well done to the visionaries.