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Women take a break from their knitting class at Banyam Theological Seminary in Bambur, Nigeria. The seminary is now providing training in basic skills for the wives of male students such as tailoring, knitting and basic administrative skills that will help them run a church alongside their husband. Photo by Julu Swen, UMNS

Photo by Julu Swen, UMNS

Women take a break from their knitting class at Banyam Theological Seminary in Bambur, Nigeria. The seminary is now providing training in basic skills for the wives of male students such as tailoring, knitting and basic administrative skills that will help them run a church alongside their husband.

Nigerian seminary educates pastors’ wives

By Julu Swen
April 13, 2017 | BAMBUR, Nigeria (UMNS)

The Banyam Theological Seminary is now providing basic skills training for the wives of male students studying to become pastors.

Banyam is the only United Methodist seminary in Nigeria and is located at one of the early mission stations of the church. The seminary offers a three-year course that prepares students for ordination as pastors.

The school also has female students studying to be pastors, and their husbands also are encouraged to attend the school but there are no special classes for them. 

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The Rev. Cecilia Paul, a graduating senior at Benyam Theological Seminary and a teacher at the Banyam Women’s School, poses with her son, Chan. About 50 women attend the school. Photo by Julu Swen, UMNS.

“We want the women to be prepared to help their husbands in their ministries in the various churches in Nigeria,” said the Rev. John Pena Auta, provost of the seminary.

He said women are important in the mission and ministries of the church and said if the women are prepared for the job market, they will bring in income for the family.

The wives learn skills such as tailoring, knitting and basic administrative skills that will help them run a church alongside their husband. He also indicated that the women become a source of inspiration or other women in their communities.

“In the United Methodist churches in Nigeria, pastors’ wives are very important when it comes to rallying other women for community actions,” Auta said.

Banyam Women’s School is also training women who lack basic education in English literacy, mathematics and other classes that will equip them to pursue formal education. Women from the surrounding communities are also attending the women school.

Most of the women in the Banyam Women’s School are using their knowledge from the school by teaching at the nursery school on campus, which is attended by the pastors' children. The Banyam Women’s School grants certificates to the women upon the completion of the three-year course of study in the various basic skills training, Auta said.

“The women leave with academic credentials just like their husbands,” he said.

“Banyam is not just a theological seminary. It is a community where the needs of our students, especially the pastors are looked after starting with their wives to their children,” Auta said.

About 50 women attend the school.

The Banyam Theological Seminary is part of the Iowa-Nigeria Partnership.

The Banyam faculty teach full time but also farm a small plot of ground to supplement their salary by providing food they can eat or sell.

The seminary also operates a collective farm where students and faculty work. One goal of the Iowa-Nigeria Partnership is to provide money to double the monthly $65 stipend now paid to faculty.

Swen is a communicator in Liberia. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tennessee, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.