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Sol Africa: a platform for cultural, spiritual and intellectual exchange

Kara Lassen Oliver
December 19, 2014

At the closing worship service of this year’s Sol Africa project, the Rev. Adriano Quelende reminded the eight United Methodist pastors from Angola and Mozambique that the people of Africa expect a lot from them. On November 28, these eight pastors join the ranks of 24 other pastors from the four Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) central conferences in Africa who have been trained over the past nine years at Methodist University in São Paulo, Brazil, as part of Sol Africa.

The pastors spent three months in Brazil, studying, visiting Methodist churches in São Paulo and sharing cultural worship experiences. In addition to classes in evangelism, Christian education, pastoral care and biblical studies, this year’s participants also had the opportunity to attend a national meeting, Work with Children Week, organized by the Theological Faculty. Prominent teachers and speakers presented on the theme, “Community Ethics, Ethics of Life.” Pastors received certificates for each completed class and learning event.

Sol Africa is a platform for cultural, spiritual and intellectual exchange for Methodists who speak Portuguese. The Rev. Olga Ranchaze Ochoto has participated in the Sol Africa project in consecutive years and says, “Without a doubt, during the time we can learn a lot and get to know more about the reality of the Methodist Church in Brazil, and the church in Brazil can learn more about the church in Africa. I think we need more projects like this in our church.”

The Sol Africa Partnership, financed by GBHEM, was developed in 2006 between Portuguese-speaking people to foster theological education and pastoral leadership in Mozambique and Angola in partnership with faculty of the Methodist University of São Paulo. The benefits of this partnership are evident. Six of the project participants are serving as district superintendents, and more than 3000 books in Portuguese have been sent to stock the libraries of the local seminaries.

The most recent goal of the partnership is to equip and empower Portuguese-speaking writers to produce theological literature that is relevant and appropriate to their local churches. This year participants had the opportunity to participate in a writing workshop, learning how to develop a manuscript from the initial idea and draft to a completed book for publication. One book is already finished, and the Faculty of Theology has promised to publish it soon. Additional manuscripts are in process and much anticipated by the Lusophone Methodist churches.

The dean of the School of Theology Bishop Emilio de Carvalho, the Rev. Tukulukisi sees the necessity of training pastors after many years of civil war in Angola. Tukulukisi says, “There is great interest that the Sol Africa project continue… We now have a good number of pastors who can teach with better qualification. This spirit for providing theological formation and teaching theology is part of our heritage as Methodists."

Oliver is freelance writer and editor, Nashville, Tenn.