Africa University is preparing to enroll candidates in a new graduate degree program in Military Chaplaincy, designed for Africa. Supported by a multi-stakeholder partnership that includes the Kentucky Conference of The United Methodist Church, the United States Army Command – Africa, and Wesley Seminary, Africa University's Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) degree program launched in January 2020.
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Ten prospective students—chaplains from Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe—attended a preparatory symposium on the Africa University campus in August. They shared their experiences, explored the key challenges and knowledge gaps facing military chaplains in Africa, and helped to shape a curriculum that is fully responsive to African realities.
"I would liken the state of Chaplaincy in the Zambia Defense Force to a child with no parents," said Lt. Col. Bossy Nkhoma. He highlighted skills gaps, a lack of orientation to the dynamics of chaplaincy as a ministry, and an implementation approach he characterized as primarily trial and error.
"I see this program as a parent that we have been missing in our corps," said Nkhoma.
In neighboring Malawi, 39-year-old Chaplain (Maj.) Gabriel Chigumi oversees a team of assistant chaplains in the Lakeshore Zone. The zone is comprised of two fighting forces and the Malawi Defense Force Military College. The team provides counselling for troops, advises commanders on religious, moral and ethical issues, and organizes spiritual life activities.
"This training will equip me with the necessary skills to manage chaplain assistants and any conflict in a professional and godly way…(and) will improve my public relations skills with my commanders and the troops I minister to," said Chigumi.
Having participated in the symposium, Chaplain (Rev.) Donald Kgomokhumo of the Botswana Defense Force describes Africa University's new D. Min. program as a timely intervention for a region where military chaplains are needed, but the vocation is uncommon and somewhat misunderstood. Their hope is that it will address the gaps between chaplains, commanding officers, and soldiers in the ongoing transformation of the military in Africa.
Andra M. Stevens, Director, Communications, Africa University Development Office
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