The James Settee College is independent of the Diocese of Saskatchewan but trains the majority of its indigenous clergy.
The College was founded in 1997 but is only the most recent venture in ordination training in our Diocese's history. In 1879, Emmanuel College was opened by Bishop McLean in Prince Albert. The first priority was the development of native teachers and clergy. The College taught Theology, Cree composition and grammar, and English. The College was closed in 1908 and reopened in Saskatoon in 1909 but without the same emphasis on training Cree candidates. Another theological venture, also named after James Settee, operated from 1983 to 1986.
Who was the Rev. James Settee? He was an early Cree catechist and missionary in the Diocese of Saskatchewan. After study at a Church Missionary Society school in the 1820’s he is credited with founding the La Ronge-Stanley Mission. The Rev. James Settee was ordained a priest soon after the Rev. Henry Budd (the first Indigenous cleric in North America) at Stanley Mission in 1853.
- To train lay and ordained indigenous leadership to be ministers of the Gospel by offering courses in biblical studies, theology and ethics, church history, pastoral leadership, preaching, counselling, and ministry to youth.
- To provide an opportunity for students to grow in their faith, to mutually support and encourage one another in the ministry, and to build fellowship between communities.
- To be a place where gifts are discerned and calls to ministry are nurtured.
- To undertake studies in an environment that is surround by prayer and the worship of our Lord Jesus Christ.
About two thirds of the parishioners in the Diocese of Saskatchewan are First Nations Cree and living primarily on Reserves. It has been a priority from the creation of the Diocese to equip local indigenous leadership whom God raises up for the ministry of the gospel. This vision has born much fruit. At present, ministry in the 26 rural Cree communities in the Diocese is led by 23 Cree clergy and 20 Cree lay readers.
Muskoday Cree Nation is served by an incumbent of partly Mohawk background, and Holy Trinity, Prince Albert is served by a non-native minister.
Traditional theological education in Colleges such as Wycliffe or Trinity in Toronto is not easily undertaken by the Cree from this Diocese. Very few have the educational background to meet the qualifications for entrance or to succeed at a programme of studies once enrolled. As well, candidates are often unwilling to commit to leaving their communities for an extended period of study for a variety of cultural reasons. In 1997, the Diocese of Saskatchewan reestablished the James Settee College to meet the training needs of Cree clergy and lay readers locally.
The James Settee College curriculum is based upon the Theological Education by Extension programme developed at the Cook College & Theological School in Tempe, Arizona, yet adapted to meet the unique pastoral demands of ministry in the North (see other side of this pamphlet). As a requirement for ordination in the Diocese, Native ordinands commit themselves to complete this course of studies. We have 6 students who are half way through their studies and 38 students in total who have taken courses at the College.
The College gathers students three times a year for a weeklong session in the city of Prince Albert. During each session, students have 25 hours of class time for one of the three courses offered. They also meet together for 6 hours of Pastoral Leadership where they learn and discuss practical matters of ministry in their communities from their Bishops and other experts in a variety of fields. In the past two years we have typically had around 20 students for these residential sessions. We also offer half credit courses in the summer on weekends in seven First Nations communities.
Except for the Suffragan Bishop, all indigenous clergy in the Diocese and many of the lay readers are non-stipendiary: many live on pensions or social assistance. Most need to be heavily financially subsidized in order to be able to attend the courses.
The costs of administering the College are born by an annual grant from the New England Company. Other costs include travel expenses to Prince Albert, accommodation and food for the students during the session; travel costs and $500 honorariums for the teachers; course materials for the students; and rental of local Anglican church facilities for the week. A few of the students are able to contribute towards the costs, others cannot come unless their costs are covered. The Diocese of Saskatchewan gives an annual grant to cover a portion of the costs.