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EMS Provides Training in Ethiopia

By Laura Amstutz

Gerald Shenk Gerald Shenk teaches "Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution" to Meserete Kristos church leaders.

Eastern Mennonite Seminary frequently hosts international students for study on campus, but now, EMS has taken some of its seminary courses to an overseas setting.

Twenty-nine students are taking seminary classes from EMS professors this summer at Meserete Kristos College (MK College) in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia.

Several years ago, MK College asked EMS to consider creating a seminary training program in Ethiopia for pastors of the Meserete Kristos church, the Mennonite denomination in Ethiopia.

This summer, three EMS faculty will travel to Ethiopia to teach graduate level courses at MK College. The program is designed so that in three summers pastors will receive 29 seminary credits, which will help significantly toward receiving a degree, either in the United States, or at a seminary in Africa.

"It is a tremendous sacrifice for pastors in Ethiopia to travel to the United States for three years of study," said seminary dean Ervin R. Stutzman. "They must leave their families as well as their leadership roles. We prefer that they have opportunity to get excellent instruction in their local context."

"The Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia is growing at the rate of 10 percent or more per year," said seminary dean Ervin R. Stutzman. "They desperately need trained leaders, and we believe that God is calling us to work with the church in Ethiopia in the training of these leaders," he added.

Courses will cover a range of disciplines

For each of the next three summers, EMS faculty will travel to Debre Zeit for this special program. They will teach courses that range from Anabaptist theology, to biblical studies, to peacebuilding and conflict transformation.

Ethiopia Students in the graduate program offered by EMS.

This summer, Jim Engle, professor of Old Testament will teach Old Testament: Text in Context, Gerald Shenk, professor of church and society will teach Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation, and Lawrence Yoder, professor of missiology will teach Anabaptist History and Theology.

All three professors have extensive experience teaching in other overseas settings. Engle returned this January from a semester teaching at MK College. Shenk spent 8 years teaching and studying in Yugoslavia, and Yoder spent 9 years teaching in Indonesia before coming to EMS.

Students and Professors Learn

Before he left for Ethiopia Shenk said, “I look forward to learning much from these gifted and motivated leaders; from the texture and resonance they will bring to the biblical text from their context.”

Shenk continued, “I know, from many years of teaching in the Balkans where students arrived from a dozen different ethnic groups, how delightful learning can become when we bring our rich diversity of experience to biblical and theological studies.”

This program is funded by a few generous donors. MK College is providing some administrative support, and Sara Wenger Shenk is also currently in Ethiopia working on agreements with another Ethiopian seminary to allow students to transfer their credits and continue studies.

To learn more about this project and other programs of Eastern Mennonite Seminary contact Don Yoder, office of seminary admissions, 540-432-4257 or email semadmiss@emu.edu.

posted 7/16/09