Nowhere is the need for theological education or the potential for making an impact greater than in the central conferences.
Many regions within the central conferences struggle with political unrest and war, natural disasters, inadequate healthcare, poverty, and more. Clergy in these areas are on the front lines helping to build or rebuild communities, engage in ministries that address the poor, provide critical health services and provide hope in the face of great obstacles while seeking to engage the greater communities in Christian fellowship.
Through God’s love, they are shaping a brighter future and better world. Their impact cannot be underestimated.
First steps already have been taken to enhance theological education in the central conferences. The 2012 General Conference approved support of approximately $1,000,000 per year for theological education and established The Commission on Central Conference Theological Education for the disbursement of the funds. Recognizing the immense need and satisfied that the funds are being used as intended, General Conference 2016 demonstrated further support by doubling this support over the next quadrennium. The funds, managed by the Commission, have already had a tremendous impact, including:
In Liberia the fund assists Gbarnga School of Theology by providing money for scholarships, library restoration and e-readers loaded with theological books and articles, many from a Wesleyan focus.
The United Methodist Church in Romania used funds for developing the first year of a Course of Study.
The Philippines Central Conference has used funds to develop online courses, purchase computers, assist radio ministry anchored by student pastors, furnish scholarships for continuing education and provide e-readers with theological texts to student pastors in areas where printed material is scarce. Funding also has been used for scholarships to the John Wesley College Divinity School.
Prior to receiving a grant for solar electrification, Banyam Theological Seminary in rural Nigeria depended on antiquated, gasoline-powered generators for electricity. Often gas was unavailable, so the campus would go dark after sunset. Now students can study later – and safer. The presence of light on campus scares away snakes. Several students had suffered snake bites before the solar project, and only one since. “I used to read for only one or two hours at night, but now, with 24-hour solar energy I can read as long as I wish. After the installation of the solar system, I became an ‘A’ grader. -Pastor Wala Zubairu, student