Early this summer we were invited to participate in the development of a Department of Christian Studies at the University of the Gambia. If you have not heard of the
The head of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at UTG, Prof. Pierre Gomez, a Christian, was instrumental in motivating further discussion, to accede to the request of students. The first crucial level of discussion, within the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, took place this past May, and Prof. Gomez was confident that discussions at higher levels (finishing with university senate approval) would not be a problem.
So how did we get involved? Through one of our supporting churches in Toronto, some months ago we met Glen and Marion Taylor, professors in Old Testament at Wycliffe College, the evangelical Anglican college of the University of Toronto; they, in turn, put us in touch with Steve Hewko who, with his wife, founded the Christian Volunteer Movement (CVM), as an agency for holistic mission to the Gambia. At present Steve is a doctoral student in theology at
During this past year, together with Prof. Glen Taylor, Steve has been instrumental in starting an institute for training pastors, called the Gambia Theological Institute, which is intended to meet the growing need for formal theological education for the small but vibrant Christian community in this largely Muslim West-African nation. In this project Steve and Glen have also worked in close conjunction with The Gambia Christian Council, which is fully supportive of its goals. The Institute is an ecumenical institution where pastors and other Christian leaders can attend courses on a variety of subjects, and work towards a diploma in theology or divinity (which will be accredited by
The program meets a real need, since at present the
The good news is that the University Senate has approved the new program in Christian Studies. It did not happen quite as soon as had been expected (in June). We heard of this approval early in August. At that time we also heard that the Vice Chancellor of the university advised postponing the program until January 2011 or perhaps even September 2011, to give the various university departments more time to submit the CVs of prospective faculty to teach in this department.
So what then, are our plans? With the blessing of the Christian Volunteer Movement we have decided to go ahead with plans to teach in The Gambia this fall, as we had originally planned. Although we will not yet be lecturing at the University, we will teach a number of courses for the Gambia Theological Institute.
At the same time we hope to use the opportunity being back in
Practically speaking, we hope to be on our way to the
Children and classrooms
So the Theological Institute is an answer to the prayers of many in the