The Mission Statement of TEFT actually sums up the Vision: “TEFT produces leaders, both lay and ordained, who have Christian Character, who have appropriate levels of Competence, and who are able to serve in the diverse Contexts of the Church.”
Thus, Character, Competence, and Contexts are the focus of TEFT’s vision.
While none of the three elements is more or less important than the other, it must be obvious that Character is ultimately at the core of any leadership training. No matter the skills and abilities a Christian leader may have, without a heart for, and evidence of, godliness, those skills and abilities are of little lasting value for the Kingdom of God. In conversation with the Archbishop recently, he stated that above all else church leaders are to be people of prayer. At the centre of Christian Character and the quest for holiness is that communion with God which pervades and guides actions and life itself.
In the Discernment Process and on the Central Tutorial Days we always begin with the Office. Thus there is a consciousness of being ‘formed’ by the Office for devotion and service. This is our bedrock. But the Office of Morning Prayer, bedrock though it is, is not an end in itself: it is a guide to an ever increasing relationship with God, through Christ, by the Holy Spirit. This is a rather clumsy way of putting it (though it is accurate theologically), but then, oft times, relationships are not exactly smooth, even our relationship with God! Again, growing people in their relationship with God is the very heart of our vision.
TEFT works initially with TEEC (Theological Education by Extension College). Zonnebloem Estate is a tutoring node for TEEC, where students meet with tutors at least once a month to work together on the essays and assignments in a number of courses. The main courses we tutor are Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology, Church History, Worship, Preaching, Spirituality, Managing Change, and Leadership. TEFT has a growing library of up-to-date books in all subjects. Our hope in this context is that the old Diocesan Library, with its stock of older but still very important books, will amalgamate with our current TEFT library, and then be complemented by new stock on a regular basis. This will enable colleagues with limited resources to borrow good literature weekly. Further, many retired priests have donated their libraries to us, creating an ever increasing stock of solid works for future generations to read. Sadly, the reality is that we do not have a dedicated space for the library to be housed. The ideal would be to have a unitary property to house the offices, seminar rooms, and library, making it The TEFT Centre. What a dream!
The Dean of Studies has strong links with the Theology Faculties at the Universities of Stellenbosch and Western Cape. Working with colleagues in these two Universities Cape Town aspirants and ordinands are able to further their studies in ecumenical settings. A core element of our vision is our ecumenical relationships. Further, TEFT has a team of highly qualified academics who visit the Provincial College in Grahamstown each year for special lectures and pastoral visits to students. This is an exercise in building relationships with the staff and students at COTT as well as being informed as to where COTT is in its journey to accreditation. The vision here is to be an integral part of the COTT programme and community, even though on a day to day basis we are at a distance. Thus TEFT seeks to equip people with such skills and abilities (competencies) to enable them to minister effectively within the Church and in their societies.
Further, it is clear to all of us that society is a diverse set of bodies, with varied languages and cultures. Hence Anglicans come in all sizes and shapes, with all their inherent idiosyncrasies, and who thus require their priests not to think that ‘one sock fits all’. Priests today have to be able to traverse the rich and complex nature of present day communities.
Ultimately, TEFT’s vision is to provide a solid, satisfying, and stimulating set of best-practice theological educational, formational, and training processes that will enhance the Diocese, influence society, and honour God.