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E-Readers Project Expands to Asia through Partnership with Wesley Theological College and Huree University

Tyrus Sturgis
April 12, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 12, 2016 – The United Methodist e-reader initiative, which provides digital libraries to students attending theological schools in remote areas, is expanding to include Wesley Theological College (WTC), in Vietnam, and Huree University, in Mongolia. 

The two schools have agreed to partner with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and Discipleship Ministries (DM) to implement the e-readers initiative for theological and higher education beginning February 2016. Following a successful 18-month pilot project in Liberia from 2013-14, the e-reader program has grown to include 20 schools of theology in Africa and four in the Philippines. The WTC-Huree partnership expands the project into Asia.

The scholastic aim of the partnership is to employ e-reader technology to address the needs of theological and higher education for the development of leaders in Vietnam and Mongolia. As the agreement states, the universities “enter into this partnership under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to equip the saints and build up the church for the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Shared Institutional Goals

The partnering schools have set forth three shared goals:

Create affordable access for faculty and students to core theological and academic resources that are currently inaccessible
Enhance the possibilities for teaching, learning and scholarship 
Develop a sustainable e-reader program through sound business planning, including income from student “book fees,” grants, and fundraising as needed in cooperation with GBHEM and DM 

The partners will evaluate the value and success of the e-reader project annually in terms of these three goals.

Implementation and Leadership

The project will be implemented in two phases: a year-long faculty phase followed by an evaluation phase. Each school has pledged to partner with GBHEM and DM to faithfully implement the e-reader project and honestly test the viability of the e-readers as a means of improving theological and higher education. Each school will appoint an on-site project manager to oversee implementation, and communicate regularly with the GBHEM and DM project coordinator, Rev. Dr. HiRho Park.

“The e-reader project in Mongolia and Vietnam is very timely, as the 2016 General Conference is going to consider the creation of the Southeast Asia and Mongolia Provisional Central Conference with ministries in Laos, Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam,” says Park, director of Clergy Lifelong Learning in the Division of Ordained Ministry at GBHEM. She adds, “This partnership is a dynamic example of the great things that result when we unite the spirit of collaboration, the power of technology and the global connection of the church. The gateway to theological and higher education should be open to anyone who desires to enter.”

Roles of GBHEM and DM

The agencies will facilitate purchase and delivery of the e-reader devices. They will help build a library of accessible, appropriate and affordable content, assist the on-site project manager with ongoing needs and problem solving, and participate in periodic evaluations and improvement efforts. The agencies will also assist these school’s effort to supplement a sustaining income for the program through fundraising and grant solicitation.

“We are happy to see this first step for the E-reader Project into Mongolia and Vietnam,” says Robin Pippin, the project’s director. “We are grateful to Dr. Park for being a champion of this initiative and for leading the trainings at these two schools. We look forward to seeing what emerges in those areas.”

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to prepare global leaders for a global church and the world. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call on their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.

About Discipleship Ministries: The mission of Discipleship Ministries is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. For more information, visit www.UMCdiscipleship.org, go to the press center at www.UMCdiscipleship.org/about/press-center, or call the Office of Communications at (877) 899-2780, Ext. 1726.