Accreditation means pastors can fill African pulpits now empty
by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Just months after celebrating its 40th anniversary, Zomba Theological College in Malawi has been registered by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE).
“The NCHE registration is a big story for us because it puts Zomba at par with other universities in Malawi. It empowers Zomba to provide Diploma of Theology and Bachelor of Divinity degrees directly rather than through another institution as we have been doing up to this point. It gives confidence to the community and will attract students, thus increasing Zomba self-sustainability,” said Dr. Takuze Chitsulo, principal of Zomba Theological College.
In 2016 the University of Aberdeen partnered with Zomba to provide an opportunity for CCAP pastors to study for a MTh Ministry Studies. Aberdeen Presbytery , Scotland, has supported the initiative, which will initially run for five years, by paying for course textbooks.
Zomba was founded in 1977 by the General Assembly of the Church of Central African Presbyterian, which consists of five synods including Blantyre, Livingstonia, Nkhoma, Harare and Zambia. Its mission is to prepare future ministers to serve in countries such as Malawai where there is only one pastor for every 7,000 CCAP Church members.
Courses offered at the college include Islam, Christian Theology in African Perspective, Christian Ethics, African Traditional Religion, Systematic Theology, Biblical Hebrew and Greek, Church History, New and Old Testament Studies, Missiology and Practical Theology. In its history, it has graduated 1,184 pastors.
CCAP has a long history with roots in the Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland and the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa. The CCAP is one of the oldest and largest churches in Malawi.
“CCAP is very serious about leadership training for our congregations. We need to train more theological students, and train them to higher levels,” said the Rev. Colin Mbawa, Secretary General of CCAP. “We need to have more pastors who can fill the empty pulpits of many CCAP congregations (CCAP has about 4 million members) and strong pastors who can disciple well-seasoned Christians who can stand firm against the onslaught of materialism and false doctrine. We are grateful to PC(USA) and to other partners who are providing scholarships to the PhD and Master’s degree students. Between the Aberdeen program and the NCHE, registration capacity of Zomba is greatly improved.”
Mission co-worker Dr. Donna Sloan is a PC(USA) long-term volunteer with Zomba. Sloan loves teaching World Religion and Church History and Ethics there. She especially loves the atmosphere which she describes as “one great cloud of witnesses living/working together and enjoying the experience of teaching and learning; sharing and studying; friendship and worship, all in a spirit of love, kindness and caring, as God intended,” she said.
Despite the many challenges and hardships Malawians face, the faith of people remains strong. In its ministry, the CCAP not only reaches out to communities with spiritual care but also through strong holistic ministries including education, health care, HIV and AIDS, water sanitation, food security and civic education.
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