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Summit sets agenda for theological education in Africa

02 December 2022

Ife Olowonyiki, USPG

The Revd Dr Olivia Banja leads a session at the summit

The Revd Dr Olivia Banja leads a session at the summit

CHURCH leaders and theological educators from seven African Provinces came together for a summit, to work more closely and strategically on addressing several urgent challenges facing theological education in Africa.

Hosted by the diocese of Botswana in the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa, the summit, “The Future of Theological Education”, took place in November in Gaborone, Botswana, and focused on the theme “Towards Building Strong and Sustainable Theological Education”.

Organised by the Anglican mission agency USPG, it was attended by archbishops, bishops, principals, and deans of theological institutions from Tanzania, Central Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa, Indian Ocean, and the two newest Provinces in the Anglican Communion: the Anglican/Episcopal Province of Alexandria, as well as the Igreja Anglicana de Moçambique e Angola (IAMA) (News, 26 March 2021).

The summit considered a wide range of challenges, including how to fund and resource theological education, the review and decolonising of the curriculum, and appropriate delivery methods, besides considering models of governance management and sustainability in light of the needs of the Church.

The Primate of the hosting Province, the Most Revd Albert Chama, said: “This summit marks an important moment in the life of the participating provinces. It has not only helped us understand and acknowledge the gaps in our theological education methods and institutional models, but also has energised us to explore with courage and conviction new ways of participation in God’s mission through the ministry of theological education.”

A communiqué from the summit recognised theological education as a responsibility that Churches and church leaders had to embrace with a sense of reimagination and recommitment.

Calling the summit as a “Kairos moment”, a “watershed”, and a “new birth”, participants recognised that “building sustainable theological education, as anchored in the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, is a question of Christian stewardship both of the gospel as well as the gifts that contribute to the building up of all God’s people.”

They also acknowledged the importance of “reimagining existing models and institutions of theological education” through the reviewing of the contextual relevance of theological education from the perspective of decolonisation.

The general secretary of USPG, the Revd Dr Duncan Dormor, said that it had been a “deeply inspiring summit”.

“Strong, sustainable theological education is the lifeblood of a healthy and growing Church. It has been a privilege, on behalf of USPG, to witness the sheer energy, creativity, and profound commitment to working together in building sustainable theological education in service of the Church and its mission across Africa. The challenges are great, but this has been a key step on the journey.”

The conference was also shaped by voices from the wider Anglican Communion, including Brazil, Burundi, Kenya, the Philippines, Uganda, the United States, and the UK.

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