|Methodist Church of Southern Africa to build seminary|
The Rev. Peter Storey, former bishop of the Methodist Church
of Southern Africa, talks about the challenges facing his country and
the scheduled opening of a new seminary in 2009. A UMNS photo by Linda
By Linda Green*
Feb. 12, 2008 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)
The Methodist Church of Southern Africa is working to open a
Methodist seminary that will develop leaders to transform the church and
the nation of South Africa.
"Leadership is the gift and skill of moving other people into
transformative action in the world," said the Rev. Peter Storey, former
bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.
During a Feb. 4 presentation sponsored by the Upper Room, a ministry of
the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, Storey talked about the
challenges faced by his country––poverty, pandemic diseases, crime,
corruption, racism, education crises and environmental degradation.
He also spoke about how the Methodist Church––from 18th century England
through the missionary movement of the 19th century and then the
anti-apartheid work of the 20th century––has instilled Christian
character in individuals and transformed societies by working for
"I think that most people have almost given up on whether this world can
be changed or whether things can be different," he said. "The
politicians promise us that every election, and somehow it never comes
up to expectation.
“We are deeply troubled that we do not seem to have the same caliber of clergy that we used to have.”
–The Rev. Peter Storey
"My own feeling is that we as Wesleyans have a clue because (change)
happened through the movement that was born out of John Wesley's and
Charles Wesley's lives. The clue is you move into people's lives and you
invite them out into society and have a William Wilberforce as a
Wilberforce, a religious member of British Parliament, was a social
reformer who helped to abolish the British slave trade and whose work
helped pass the Slave Trade Act in 1807.
"That is … the kind of spiritual leader that I hope that we can shape
and who we need so desperately, which Africa needs in particular," said
Storey. "In fact, we all need that kind of leadership."
Birthing a new seminary
Storey is chairman of the project to open the new seminary, which is
scheduled to enroll its first 35 students next January. The seminary
will provide candidates for the ministry with three years of
residential, spiritual and academic training and internships––instead of
the current six years of on-the-job training.
The seminary will be named in honor of the late Rev. Seth Mokitimi, who
"models the kind of minister the seminary seeks to produce," said
In 1964, Mokitimi became the first black person elected to lead a major
denomination in South Africa. He was one of the church's most renowned
preachers and educators, and Storey said he had a powerful influence on
the life of South African leader Nelson Mandela. "He was called the
brown bomber like Joe Louis because when he arrived to preach, things
happened," Storey said. "People were knocked out by the Gospel."
The new seminary is to be located within the Pietermaritzburg Cluster, a
center of ecumenical theological institutions including the School of
Religion and Theology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, near Durban.
The Methodist Church of Southern Africa was started in 1836 by British
Methodists and became autonomous in 1883. It is made up of six countries
in Southern Africa, and 2.5 million people claim a religious
affiliation with the denomination.
Clergy leadership needed
Although South Africa has a proud heritage of seminary education, the
seminaries of numerous churches have struggled because of decisions
made 20 years ago that emphasized on-the-job training over a residential
seminary experience. Many students bypassed a seminary education and
collected their degrees by correspondence. As a result, the church is
working to fill a void in its clergy leadership.
"We are deeply troubled that we do not seem to have the same caliber of clergy that we used to have," Storey said.
Bishop Ivan Abrahams, the presiding bishop of the Methodist Church of
Southern Africa, and other officials explored the issue and proposed a
new seminary for South Africa.
The new seminary "is not about bricks and mortar" but about developing
life-changing spiritual leaders to transform the church and the nation
of South Africa, Storey said.
Transformational pastors, he said, have qualities that include a
spiritual life nourished by Christ; personal conduct that is above
reproach; accountability to colleagues and the church; ability to
interpret Scripture faithfully and preach spiritual liberation
effectively; and a passion to work for justice, reconciliation and unity
of all people.
Storey said about R$14.5 million has been raised toward the R$99 million
needed for the seminary structure and infrastructure. The seminary is
seeking gifts and matching funds from international friends of the
church to endow faculty and staff positions.
For more information, contact Storey by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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