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Partnership will train pastors in Angola, Mozambique

June 28, 2006

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The Rev. Jerome King Del Pino

By Vicki Brown*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)--An agreement to develop curriculum and theological education for Portuguese-speaking pastors in Angola and Mozambique has been signed by officials of United Methodist higher education and ministry and theological schools in Brazil.

Partners include the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the faculty of theology of the Methodist University of São Paulo, the denomination’s Angola and Mozambique annual conferences and the Methodist Church in Brazil. The agreement was signed June 6.

"The board is moving with all deliberate speed to create relationships with higher educational institutions and theological seminaries to meet the educational needs of world Methodism, especially Latin America," said the Rev. Jerome King Del Pino, top executive at the Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

"This is being done even without financial support of the Global Education Fund that was proposed to, but not approved by, the General Conference in 2004," Del Pino said.

General Conference delegates did approve a $4 million World Service Special Gifts Fund for the Global Education Fund, which will allow the agency to ask for donations for the fund.

The relationships with Latin America will enable the board to expand its work among the Portuguese-speaking United Methodist Central Conferences of Angola and Mozambique in partnership with Brazilian Methodists, according to Del Pino.

The board’s Division of Higher Education will work with staff at the Methodist University of São Paulo to deliver a curriculum to theology schools in the two African countries.

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Magali do Nascimento Cunha

"This and other similar initiatives by the (Board of Higher Education and Ministry) in Asia, Africa and Europe constitute a defining moment for a connectional church that needs a global infrastructure for leadership development in order to claim truthfully that it is a global church," Del Pino said.

According to Magali do Nascimento Cunha, a member of the theology school faculty at the Methodist University of São Paulo, the agreement will give more strength to the partnership between the three Portuguese-speaking countries.

"Since the 1980s, the faculty of theology of the Methodist Church in Brazil has worked in partnership with the Methodist Church in Angola and Mozambique, receiving students to be trained for the pastoral ministry, including three of the current bishops of those countries," Cunha said. The church in Brazil has also sent faculty members to teach courses and distributed printed materials published in Brazil.

"This Methodist connection is part of the Wesleyan inheritance that sees the main task for the church ministry in global perspective ? the world is our parish," she noted.

A research team made up of representatives of the faculty of theology and the Methodist Church in Brazil will spend several weeks in Angola and Mozambique in September and October to assess the needs and determine an appropriate curriculum, according to the Rev. Robert Kohler, a staff member in the board’s Division of Ordained Ministry.

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The Rev. Robert Kohler

"In Angola, the majority of pastors need additional training because of lack of resources and 40 years of warfare that have totally devastated the institutions," he said, adding that many pastors were killed during the war in Mozambique.

The research team will examine cultural differences and make the necessary adjustments to the curriculum used in Brazil to make it work in Africa, although the basic outline will remain the same — Bible study, theology, church history and the practice of ministry.

"We cannot assume what we are doing in Brazil or the U.S. will work in Africa," Kohler explained. For instance, the way in which family is valued and revered in Africa changes pastoral care, he said.

Curriculum development will be done mostly by the theological faculty and staff at the Methodist University of São Paulo and representatives of the church in Brazil. Once the research is compiled, a planning committee will meet in February for further work on the curriculum.

The board also is working with Methodist University of São Paulo, Africa University in Zimbabwe, and the United Methodist Church in Mozambique to develop an eight-week distance education program that will use printed materials, possibly a DVD, and at least one visit from a teacher to Maputo to train a group of tutors in Mozambique.

The program will offer needed training in agriculture, health, and environmental studies, as well as theological studies, according to the Rev. Ken Bedell, a Board of Higher Education and Ministry staff member.

*Brown is an associate editor and writer in the Office of Interpretation at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

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United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry

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