African Theological Institutions Join Together
Bishops and educators are forming an association of African Theological Institutions in the hope of increasing cooperation among institutions and improving United Methodist theological education on the continent of Africa.
Bishop David Yemba, resident bishop of the Central Congo episcopal area and chancellor of Africa University, has written United Methodist bishops in Africa asking that they send a representative from the theological institution in their area to Africa University in September. Representatives from the United Methodist theological institutions will meet at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe, during the College of African Bishops meeting.
“I encourage each bishop to nominate a representative even from an episcopal area where we do not have an institution of theological education at a university or college level – provided, however, that the nominee has himself/herself a university/college level of education,” Yemba wrote.
Such an association was recommended in 2005 by the Geneva Group, which worked on the Francophone Course of Study, as well as by groups which met in Kampala, Uganda, and Atlanta, Ga., to discuss global theological education in The United Methodist Church. An association has also been endorsed by the United Methodist African Bishops, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and the General Board of Global Ministries.
Rena Yocom, assistant general secretary for Clergy Formation and Theological Education, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, said that many of the African theological schools face monumental issues.
“The association will provide a place where they can come together to face those issues. There will be strength in working together,” Yocom said.
She said one pilot project already in the works is the development of a faculty exchange. “Many of the schools don’t have enough faculty and have a hard time finding faculty for particular courses,” she said.
Under the faculty exchange proposal, the seminary would provide housing and pay living expenses.
The College of African Bishops will meet from Sept. 5-9, 2011. Yemba asked that participants in the theological association meet Sept. 5-6. The bishops and theological school representatives will meet together on Sept. 6.
*Brown is associate editor and writer, Office of Interpretation, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.