A letter from Kay Day in Malawi
Dear Family and Friends,
Preparing persons for pastoral ministry is a process, as anyone in ministry knows. That is even more the case in Malawi. But what wonderful celebration when everything is completed and ministry begins. That has been the blessing of this August. I invite you to praise God with me.
The process for this group of new ministers began in 2005 when the Blantyre Synod began to address the desperate shortage of pastors within the synod. The plan was a “boost” of 20 additional trainees in a program parallel to the one at Zomba Theological College (ZTC), which could train only six pastors a year from Blantyre. I was invited to teach in the Parallel Program, as it was called, and came in 2007 to do that. But before I arrived, the program was merged with the ZTC program because of financial problems at ZTC. I taught several classes, but especially the second-year students who were part of the Parallel Program. Those students were fully integrated into ZTC’s program. Some finished in three years with a diploma and were assigned to churches in 2008, but many of them qualified for the degree program and finished their fourth year of studies in 2009. They were then placed in congregations as “ordinands” under the supervision of an ordained pastor within the presbytery to which they were assigned.
This month they completed this probationary period and were recommended for ordination. They then came under my current responsibilities as “Synod Training Chaplain.” I facilitated a three-day retreat to give them final instructions in preparation for ministry. Things are done differently here from the way they are in the States. Pastors and their spouses are part of this preparation. Because of the expansion of the Parallel Program there were 25 and their spouses in attendance, a very large group to bolster the number of pastors for Blantyre. All those present were ones I had taught at Zomba, so it was like preparing my spiritual children for service. In fact, one of them was my son, Thomas, and his wife. What a joy! Teachings at the retreat included such topics as Life in the Manse, Dealing with HIV/Aids in Ministry, Stewardship of Time and Money and Expectations of the Synod for Pastors. The facilitators included the moderator of the synod, the deputy general secretary of the synod, a retired clergy couple, a pastoral counselor, the synod HIV/Aids ministry team and me. It was a great three days.
Because of the large group, ordination has to be done differently this year. Instead of all being ordained at the same time in one location, the group has been divided into four groups in four locations. The first two groups were ordained on Aug. 8 and the second two groups will be ordained on Aug. 22. Thomas was in the first group, and so he is now officially an ordained pastor. That was a great day for me personally and it was a great day for the synod. The process will be completed on Aug. 22 when the last 10 will be ordained. This will give the synod 187 ordained pastors for 500 congregations and more than 1,000 prayer houses. There is still a shortage of pastors, but these new ministers make the workload much easier. For this we praise God.
Personally, I am thankful for the opportunity to have been part of this process from the beginning and to have taught these dedicated folks at various stages in their training. Being part of their ordination is an added blessing. Ongoing training is part of my responsibility and that too will be a blessing as I continue to work with them. Please join me in praising God for his provision for the spiritual leadership of the Synod in these newly ordained pastors. Praise God with me for their dedication and commitment to ministry. Please pray for their continued strength and growth in ministry as they serve God through the synod.
Yours in Christ’s service,
Kay (Cathie to family)
The 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 59