MTh in Ministry Studies at Zomba Theological College
The initiative of Ken Jeffrey and the Centre for Ministries Studies has come to fruition and the first teaching session has taken place in the Zomba Theological College in Blantyre, Malawi.
The course is being provided by the University of Aberdeen with the support of The Church of Scotland.
Aberdeen Presbytery is supporting the initiative, by paying for course text books and has also paid for the transport of eighteen laptops donated by the University of Aberdeen for the use of the students.
A total of fifteen people will attend the course, including nine who have successfully applied for scholarships from the Church of Scotland’s World Mission Council.
The international project also has two scholarships supplied by the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, two from the Presbyterian Church of Ireland and one from the Malawi Bible Society.
Three members of staff from Zomba Theological College will join the university’s distance PhD programme.
Dr Jeffrey, who has ties to Malawi, is delighted to be part of the collaboration: “It is 25 years this month since I went to Livingstonia where I taught Bible Knowledge and English from 1992 -94”, he said.
“I visited Zomba in 1994 and felt a strong sense of call to teach at the Theological College. Twenty three years later this sense of vocation is being realised. I am really excited that Aberdeen University have created this original partnership with Zomba Theological College that provides opportunities for Central Church of Africa Presbyterian ministers to undertake post-graduate theological training and education at a UK institution whilst remaining at home.”
Jennie Chinembiri, Africa and Caribbean Secretary of the World Mission Council of the Church of Scotland, said: “We are excited to be partnering with both Aberdeen University and Zomba Theological College in this unique opportunity.
“We have been able to support students from both Malawi and Mozambique to study a Masters in Theology which will be awarded by Aberdeen University at Zomba Theological College. This is an extraordinary opportunity, which allows students to study on a part time basis which means they can remain with their families whilst furthering their education.”
Scotland has enjoyed close links with Malawi ever since Aberdonian Dr Robert Laws founded the first Christian Mission in Livingstonia in 1876.
When the Centre for Ministry Studies was created three years ago, the Business Plan included the suggestion that we would explore the idea of delivering short intensive programmes in Africa and that we would investigate the existing connections between the Church of Scotland and Malawi. Finally, after many meetings, countless emails and a visit to Malawi last August, a Draft Agreement was signed in December that created a new, collaborative partnership between the University of Aberdeen and Zomba Theological College.
The first partnership of its kind, it provides the opportunity for church leaders across Africa to join the MTh Ministry Studies programme that was created two years ago and which has already become a popular and successful course at Aberdeen University. Staff from the University will travel to Malawi where they will teach the four module, part-time programme in Zomba. We expect to welcome between 15 and 20 students onto the programme each year. In addition, Aberdeen University will invite three members of staff from Zomba Theological College to apply to join our distance PhD programme. In this way we hope to contribute to the development of the College as it seeks to provide ministerial training for ministers.
Previously, church leaders in Malawi who wanted to pursue postgraduate studies had to travel to other African nations or come to Europe or the USA to further their education. Now, and for the first time, they are able to study for their Masters and Doctoral degrees in their own country. The Draft Agreement commits Aberdeen University and Zomba Theological College to this partnership for five years in the first instance. At the end of this period, we hope that the increased capacity in Zomba, provided by the staff who have gained their PhDs from Aberdeen, will allow them to develop their own postgraduate programmes of study.
In the meantime, the IT department at Aberdeen University are collecting and recycling old laptops which we shall give to our new Malawian students so that they have the means to study and research online. Approaches have been made to several publishers who we hope will donate course textbooks to the students.
Discussions are also taking place with the Church of Scotland and Aberdeen Presbytery about creating a scholarship programme to support church leaders from Malawi who want to join the course. Aberdeen University has reduced the fees for this particular programme, but it will still cost a Malawian minister more than 1000 pounds per year, over two years to complete the course. Therefore, if you, your congregation or Presbytery are interested in finding ways to support this new initiative and contributing to a scholarship programme, then please contact Rev Dr Ken Jeffrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The photos below were taken during the first teaching session of the Malawi MTh Ministry Studies programme.
Rev Dr Ken Jeffrey leads the students in a class session.
Dr Andrew Clarke leads the students in a class session.
Students on the MTh Ministry Studies programme with their laptops donated by the University.