Theological Education and Training in Africa

I read with great interest the article of my dear friend and brother in the field of Overseas Mission Mr. Charalambos Metallides for a plea made by His Eminence Metropolitan Nikiphoros of Kinshasa for financial support to the School of Theology of Congo University.

As we are dealing with exactly the same problems, I also submit my own personal testimony and subscribe to what is said in this article because of my long ministry in the field of theological education on the continent of Africa.

Perhaps in our own field there is a different view according to which some people think that it is not possible for us here in this vast continent to convey unchanged the theological knowledge of the Eastern Orthodox Church and provide appropriate training. They have the impression that there might not be properly trained Orthodox professors who can convey the authentic and genuine tradition of Orthodoxy.

As for several decades I have been in charge of this theological project of establishing Orthodox academic education and training, I strongly believe that as long as we have seminaries within the African continent, it is better to educate and train future clergymen here. Thus, we are in need of financial support and assistance in order to be able to fulfill this important theological project. We have qualified professors, the premises required with a library, classrooms, dormitories, refectory, offices and above all, a holy church. Naturally, for the proper operation of our seminaries, there are other functional needs as well, such as building maintenance, staff salaries, the students’ daily food – morning, noon and evening, car transportation and maintenance costs, water and electricity bills.

All this and many other things are useful and necessary to enable us to give the right theological training and direction to the “laborers of our Gospel”, clergy or lay people, so that we can fully fulfill the destination for which our theological schools were prepared and built with a lot of sacrifices and dedicated labor. We believe that we have already stressed it, but we are once again saying that it is important that we give our candidates a chance here, in their own place, in their own environment.

The daily schedule is strict and carefully planned and organized on a spiritual basis with morning and evening services as well as Compline, Matins and Vespers. Thus, the person to be ordained is already gaining substantial experience which will help him significantly in his clerical ministry as a priest, teacher or catechist.

That is why I am making an earnest appeal to all those who love and support the work of our Church on the continent of Africa to give priority to the field of theological training and education. We urgently need your support and assistance to communicate through proper theological training the message of the Gospel and Orthodoxy as well as the ethos and beauty of our holy monasteries and the devout reverence of our liturgical services. We struggle to achieve our goal working tirelessly every day so that we can see our future priests receive in their own place education and training, which relies on a strictly cenobitic program, since everything is common – accommodation, courses, classes, holy services, meals and others: a truly spiritual state.

† Makarios of Nairobi