‘Thirdspace’ Engenders Theological Education

By Drene Somasundram and Anita Monro.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

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Clergy women in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church speak for the first time of their theological training at a private Christian tertiary institution in Australia. A phenomenological design is used to capture and analyse Clergy women’s collective lived experience of theological education. The major themes of ambivalence in identity formation, the struggle to question dominant hegemony and existence in hostile environments depict the life world of Clergy women. The findings from this investigation, together with the Clergy women’s recommendations for improvements to theological training, guide the development of a contemporary model for theological education. This model is called the ‘TRI-Space Model in Theological Education’; it embodies both gender inclusive pedagogy and thirdspace thinking–a relatively new philosophy that is beginning to emerge within theology. This model offers new directional formation that opens up new and exciting possibilities in the field of theological education. This study is pivotal for educators and administrators who seek to respect gender differences through the development of a holistic approach to ministerial formation.

Keywords: Clergy Women, Theological Education, Thirdspace, Engender, Phenomenology

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, 2012, pp.55-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 949.302KB).

Dr. Drene Somasundram

Lecturer and Chaplain, Avondale, College of Higher Education, The Seventh-day Adventist Church, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Dr. Drene Somasundram comes from England where she spent over fifteen years working as a Clergy woman. Drene was the first woman in Britain to be employed by her organisation and have her own district of churches. Currently Drene lives in Sydney, Australia where she lectures and is a Chaplain at Avondale, College of Higher Education. Drene completed her Doctorate at Middlesex University in 2007 and was awarded the ‘Ken Goulding’ prize for excellence of thesis. Drene is passionate about teaching, gender issues and international development.

Revd Dr. Anita Monro

The Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland, Australia

Rev. Dr Anita Monro is an ordained minister of The Uniting Church in Australia (a union of Congregationalist, Methodist and Presbyterian traditions). She has taught candidates for ordained Ministry in the Uniting Church at Trinity Theological College (Brisbane) and United Theological College (Sydney); and served in congregations in Queensland and New South Wales. Anita is currently Principal of Grace College, a women’s residential college operating under the auspices of the Uniting and Presbyterian churches within the University of Queensland in Brisbane. Her key areas of interest are Christian formation, liturgy and feminist theology.