World Council of Churches

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Towards an African Fund for Theological Education

Towards an African Fund for Theological Education in AACC. Proposal for the AACC Advisory Group on Theological Education

16 November 2010

Kidogo Kidogo Hujaza Kibaba
Joining Hands for the Training of African theological leadership
Joindre les mains pour la formation des leaders chretiens pour l’Afrique

Towards an African Fund for Theological Education in  AACC
Proposal for the AACC Advisory Group on Theological Education
16 November 2010

I) Preamble

1) There has been a tremendous increase in African Christianity during the past decade which is not yet reflected in a similar strength and capacity in theological education on the African continent: While 66% of all Christians lived in Europe in 1910, by 2010 only 25.6% Christian churches in Europe. By contrast, less than 2% of all Christians lived in Africa in 1910 skyrocketing to almost 22% by 2010. It is projected that by 2050 on the African continent there will be 900 million Christians. The Global North (defined as Europe and Northern America) contained over 80% of all Christians in 1910 falling to under 40% of all Christians by 2010, but the majority of all resources for theological education are still located in this region. The shift becomes even more obvious if one looks at the Christian percentage of the population per region in Africa: While Africa had less than 10% Christians in 1910, its overall population was nearly 50% Christian in 2010, with sub-Saharan Africa rising to well over 70% Christian. The African continent is predicted to have the fastest growth of Christianity on earth. But there still is a gap in terms of availability and accessibility of theological education on the African continent as the majority of resources mobilized for theological education are located in countries of the West and the number of institutions of theological education in Africa has only grown to some extent, but is not keeping pace with the growth of African Christianity. We are living in a state of emergency with regard to shortages in leadership development in theological education in Africa.

2) It was during the WCC sponsored PTE consultation on “Quo vadis – theological education in Africa?” in 1986 that African scholars formulated the vision of creating an African Ministerial Formation Fund (AMFM; see attached original outline) which aimed at strengthening theological education systems in Africa and to “introduce some rationality into the funding patterns with regard to African theological education”. Seven key areas were identified to serve as priority fields of funding for an African Ministerial Education Fund: leadership formation, women in theological education, literature development,  library development, theological curriculum development, advanced theological studies, alternative and innovative patterns of theological education. These categories closely followed major areas of activities of support undertaken by the former Theological Education Fund (TEF) which for some 30 years was a major instrument to strengthen and to build up capacities of theological education on the African continent.

3) The ETE programme of WCC for some 30 years has continued to assist African theological education through grants for associations of theological schools, faculty development and exchange programme as well as literature projects. As the role of WCC in being a funding institution is changing and the interest is to strengthen the churches in the regions in their own responsibility time has come to look beyond the existing mechanisms and to create something new, taking up some of the earlier visions which never could be implemented practically.

4) AACC has taken a strong interest in encouraging and strengthening theological education in Africa since the Maputo assembly and with the programme to work for the revitalization of African associations of theological schools assisted by the ETE Programme of WCC and various other partners. The AACC advisory group had developed a mandate platform in November 2009 which includes the creation and support of an African Theological Education Fund (Mandates Point 8). This project outline aims at concretizing this vision and coming to some practical suggestions in this direction.

II) Proposal

1)     It is proposed that an African Theological Education Fund is established in 2011 with a separate budget line within AACC and a distinct grant committee which will be responsible for the process of building up this Fund and to make decisions on the funds made available for distribution. The African Theological Education Fund should be starting to operate in 2011, but should be fully operative and supported by a major fundraising effort as part of the preparatory process of AACC towards the Jubilee Assembly in Kampala 2013.

2)     Initially the Fund should be composed of 40% of financial means made available by partner organizations of AACC and 60% contributions made available by African member churches of AACC so as to strengthen the ownership and responsibility of African churches for joint programmes of theological education in the African continent. Strong bridges should also be built to create more support for this project and fund from Afro-American churches in the US. It is aimed to start with a projected amount of some 100.000 USD per year for this Fund in 2011. Different sources and ways of support for this Fund will be explored.

3)     The financial means made available for this fund should be used in a first phase primarily to serve faculty development programmes in the area of Master and doctoral programmes of African theologians studying and being trained not in the West, but within African institutions of theological education.

4)     Criteria for application and allocation of grants have been formulated as a draft in accordance with the principles and mandate of the AACC working group on theological education. Grants should be eligible and applicable for all candidates from Christian churches which are member churches or related to AACC.

5)     Once a platform with guidelines of the AACC Grant programme on theological education for Africa is finalized and the African Theological Education Fund is endorsed by AACC Executive Committee in May 2011 the guidelines should be made available on the AACC website.

6)     An annual general collect of African churches should be inaugurated following experiences with the Campaign on Dignity of Africa. Thus contributions to the Fund would become a regular part of the giving culture of African churches throughout the year or at a given Sunday within the church calendar.

7)     Funding applications for making additional support available for the Fund should be shared with ecumenical partners of AACC during and in preparation for the annual Round Table of ecumenical partners of AACC.

8)     Experiences with the African Theological Education Fund should be regularly (annually) reported about in the AACC advisory group on theology, ecumenical formation and interfaith dialogue.

III)  Recommendation

It is recommended therefore to the AACC Advisory group on theology, ecumenical formation and interfaith by the preparatory meeting which has taken place 15-16 November 2010 to resolve the following conclusion:

The AACC Advisory Group on theology, ecumenical formation and interfaith recommends to the GS of AACC and the Executive Meeting of AACC

a)     to support the proposal that an African Theological Education Fund is established in 2011 with a separate budget line within AACC and to appoint a distinct grant committee which will be responsible for the process of building up this Fund and to make decisions on the funds made available for distribution. The African Theological Education Fund should start to operate in 2011. It should be supported by a major fundraising effort as part of the preparatory process of AACC towards the Jubilee Assembly in Kampala 2013.

b)     Initially the Fund should be composed of 40% of financial means made available by partner organizations of AACC and 60% contributions made available by African member churches of AACC so as to strengthen the ownership and responsibility of African churches for joint programmes of theological education in the African continent. It is hoped that the funding composition will gradually increase with regard to the support coming from African churches.

c)     An annual general collect of African churches should be inaugurated following experiences with the Campaign on Dignity of Africa. Thus contributions to the Fund would become a regular part of the giving culture of African churches throughout the year or at a given Sunday within the church calendar.