New Program Targets Theological Educators in Africa

After much visioning and planning, advanced theological training at Africa University is becoming a reality. Twelve candidates in a new one-year postgraduate certificate program for theological educators gathered on the Africa University campus in July for their first residential block of lectures.

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The certificate in theological and religious research is a prerequisite for entry into Africa University's first doctoral program in Theology and Religious Studies, in partnership with Wesley House Cambridge.

There are eight countries represented among the students, all of whom are currently in the certificate program, but aspiring to earn the doctoral degree. Most are educators from United Methodist higher education institutions in Africa. Among them is Rev. Dr. James Labala, dean of the Gbarnga School of Theology in Liberia and president of the African Association of United Methodist Theological Institutions (AAUMTI).

With the combined five years of training, Africa University and its partner, Wesley House Cambridge, aim to equip scholars for excellence in contextualized research and training, while also building capacity within United Methodist seminaries and universities in Africa for the discourse, reflection, and new knowledge that make theological education relevant to the lived experiences of the people.

Both the program participants and the team that is responsible for its implementation agree that African theology is at a tipping point. The church's ethical involvement in national and regional matters, financial accountability, African contextual theology, and Wesleyan understandings of mission and church growth are key potential topics of investigation for program participants. The opportunity for enhanced skills, intellectual challenge, and a broadening of perspective drew Rev. Maudy Muchanyereyi to the program. She is a Zimbabwean clergywoman who serves as chaplain at Africa University.

The one-year postgraduate certificate program has the approval of the Africa University Senate and the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE). The four-year doctoral offering that follows is validated through Wesley House Cambridge by Anglia Ruskin University—another Cambridge-based institution. The Wesley House Cambridge-Anglia Ruskin University project is viewed as a precursor to future doctoral programs that will be awarded by Africa University's Institute of Theology and Religious Studies.

The program is being funded by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry's Innovation Fund and by the Central Conferences Theological Education Fund, (CCTEF). It is organized in two parts: a one-year postgraduate certificate in theological and religious research which allows candidates to explore various approaches to research, followed by four years of coursework and research leading to the PhD.

Program participants will return to Africa University in December to begin developing their individual research projects. If they progress to the doctoral program, they'll engage in independent research and biannual two-week blocks of study at Africa University as well as a three-month study period in Cambridge, England prior to the completion of the program.

excerpt from an article by Andra M. Stevens, Director, Communications, Africa University Development Office

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Africa University Fund transforms Africa by educating and empowering students from across the continent through Africa University, the first fully accredited, United Methodist-related educational institution on the continent. The Africa University Fund supports the general operating expenses of Africa University including faculty and staff salaries and vital infrastructure. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Africa University Fund at 100 percent.