Yearly Archives: 2022

Mombasa training – a new focus for growth in Kenya

The work in Kenya is growing. In both in its spread and depth. This is due to concerted efforts to grow the number of trained-trainers for the programme, and, importantly, in relationship with key theological colleges. A new partnership is with Bishop Hannington Institute of Theology and Development (BHI) and BUILD Partners caught up with Ben Kibara after the recent, initial training of first year students there.  

Ben, why Mombasa as a centre for training? 

Mombasa is a very strategic centre for BUILD training. BHI is based there and exists to train individuals for ministry in the East African Church. Its mission statement is, “Equipping and empowering the people of God for transformative leadership”. The college is led by the Rev. Martin Olando as Principal, who has been a close friend over the years. And the main target dioceses of the college include Mombasa, Malindi, Taita Taveta, Makueni, Kitui, Kajiado and Garissa. These dioceses cover the eastern and coastal region of Kenya, a new region of the Anglican Church of Kenya for BUILD.

What are the plans for the training there? 

The plan is to equip all first years, both at certificate and diploma level. The training program is implemented through a one week intensive every semester. That means all new students will have an opportunity to go through four intensives, covering the first four modules of BUILD. This not only builds a strong biblical foundation for their theological learning (BHI is deliberately putting the intensives at the beginning of each semester), it helps in their formation for their future ministry, and it equips them to pass on BUILD learning to others.

You have trained so many different groups, what struck you most about this cohort?

The Mombasa cohort is very unique and has a huge potential for identifying and developing faithful leaders who can train others in the region. We had 6 female and 19 male participants. The diocesan representation was as follows: Mombasa (8), Kitui (7), Taita Taveta (3), Makueni (2), Machakos (1), Malindi (1), Nambale (1), Maseno North (1), Kisii (1). Thirteen of the 26 were between the ages 22 – 25; seven between 26 – 30; and only five participants were older than 30. The age range gives a good indication of the potential of this cohort to train more leaders from their dioceses for many years ahead, and that they are representative of a young, growing population. The participants went right ahead and identified potential leaders they are intending to train back in their churches.

What were the outcomes of this initial training? 

The main outcome was the induction and orientation of the new students beginning of their life in a theological college. The training provided a solid biblical foundation by emphasising the importance of keeping the bible central in ministry, together with the need to correctly understand, explain and apply the gospel. The training also addressed the challenge of the lack of faithful leaders who can train others, and the call to persevere with gospel ministry despite the enormous challenges they face.

Participants went through Pastoral Epistles and, remarkably, for the first time the majority of them completed a single reading of a book of the bible and had the opportunity to encounter individual passages from those books in depth, which was an eye-opener for them. (The other students in the college wondered why they hadn’t been given an opportunity to go through such a programme!) The Principal assured all the new students that the program will take place every semester so that they can be thoroughly equipped as workers who correctly handle the word of truth.

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

There is are huge benefits in BUILD partnering with theological colleges. We are able to challenge students to keep scriptures and its gospel central in their ministry. And a college is an excellent ground to get committed trainers who will be able to then train others.

Thanks Ben. Integrating different patterns of training has always been an essential part of BUILD’s vision and it is wonderful to see that becoming a reality, and such a productive one.

BUILD on a mission to Gambella, Ethiopia

Cross-cultural mission is in BUILD’s DNA. For example, an intercultural group from across Uganda began the curriculum design process. Neighbouring countries then invited teams from Uganda to visit and share our early BUILD training efforts, and leaders from those countries then joined the curriculum workshops back in Uganda. In a range of ways, BUILD has always had an emphasis on mission. It was therefore natural to respond to a recent call for BUILD training from the Diocese of Gambella in Ethiopia, a next-door neighbour to our current footprint.

Gambella lies in the west of Ethiopia. It juts out westwards into South Sudan, which serves as a reminder of some of the tension and conflict in the area – and, by extension, in its churches. Gambella has been deeply affected by long term ethnic tensions between its Anuak and Nuer communities, as well as by conflict in neighbouring South Sudan, with refugees spilling into Gambella and the neighbouring regions.

The movement of people into Gambella, however, has also brought more believers into Ethiopia, and has created the greatest concentration of Anglican Christians in the country. Gambella is part of the Province of Alexandria. Alexandria was previously a diocese of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, but became an independent province in May 2020, partly due to the growth of the Anglican Church in Gambella. Alexandria’s other dioceses have fewer, more dispersed Anglican believers and churches: the Diocese of Egypt; the Diocese of the Horn of Africa (covering the rest of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia), and the Diocese of North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Chad, Mauritania).

Alongside this influx of believers, theological education and training in Gambella has been challenging. To date, St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College (SFATC) in Gambella town has been the focal point of efforts, with an emphasis on relationship and bridge-building across the Nuer and Anuak communities, and on reaching out through them to others.

BUILD was initially asked to help with the training of the scattered lay-readers in the dioceses, of which there are 150 or more. Just as elsewhere in the BUILD region of Anglican churches, lay readers, catechists and senior Christians act as the de facto congregation leaders, and the health of the churches is highly dependent on their health as leaders. Having considered a number of different options for introducing training into the area, we took the decision to send a Kenyan BUILD trainer to work in Gambella.

Revd Samuel ‘Sammy’ Atsali Mangu had gone through the BUILD system in the west of Kenya, which then enabled him to study theology at Uganda Christian University, before returning to Kenya to lead a parish and head up the youth work in the western region of the Anglican Church of Kenya. When asked if he might consider moving full-time to Gambella as a BUILD mission partner, we were taken aback by his almost immediate and faith-filled response, along the lines of, “I am humbled to be asked, yes, I will go”. Since then, the model has evolved and Sammy now acts as an itinerant missionary: he has been accepted as a local partner of CMS-Africa, released to them by the Diocese of Butere as one of their ‘Missionary Clergy’. Sammy remains based in Kenya but travels up to Gambella regularly for research and sensitisation purposes. He travels again in September to help the current cohort of students at SFATC complete their studies.

SFATC is transitioning to using the BUILD curriculum as the foundation for its studies, and the college will act as a hub for local level BUILD training elsewhere in the diocese. This means that Sammy has a dual role, as reflected in his title, BUILD Programme Coordinator, Gambella Diocese, and Acting Principal, St Frumentius Anglican Theological College – something, perhaps, that he had not quite imagined when he first put his hand up for this pioneering task. For someone who had never been on an aircraft before last year, and who has now become a frequent-flyer, life is full of new surprises and challenges as Sammy continues with BUILD on a mission.

 

Featured picture, Revd Sammy (right) with SFATC students.

A feast in famine

The Diocese of Shinyanga in northern Tanzania was formed in 2005 but due to limited resources there have been no capacity-building workshops to date. In reality that training-famine dates back to 1991: Shinyanga was carved out of another diocese, one in the midst of years of conflict and training-paralysis. No wonder that the launch of BUILD training in the diocese has been greeted with such enthusiasm and commitment.

Following on from the TMOT (training of master trainers) reported in last month’s blog the trainers got to work in Shinyanga for a fortnight in late May. The hunger for training meant that they were greeted by not one but two different classes: a day-release one and a block-release group. (Although the ‘day-release’ class, who were keen to get started, had to meet in the evenings because the block-release group were meeting every day.)

Even those two groups represented four different types clustered together: 55 BUILD students from Shinyanga municipality – the day-release group (with 14 clergy and 41 lay leaders); 25 students from rural areas who are being trained through a block-release approach (local clergy and an evangelist); 22 students with English language ability who form a diploma-level block-release group (15 of those are lay leaders); and a larger certificate class of 58 BUILD students, who are learning primarily in Kiswahili (31 pastors and 27 lay leaders). Those 80 students are approx. 60% men and 40% women, but are more evenly matched in terms of whether they are ordained or not (with a slight majority of lay leaders among them).

Getting too close to the detail might mask the main points: first, that all this represents a training revolution; second, that Bishop Johnson Chinyong’ole and his team are thinking courageously about training needs and how they can be met; third, that all this is part of a grand mission plan to not only strengthen existing churches but to plant 500 new ones.

Behind that, +Johnson writes, “As a diocese we have had a time of long longing for BUILD training in Shinyanga diocese. We affirm the vision of BUILD which is, ‘to see a multitude of well-equipped leaders at the grassroots building healthy churches’ across the seven districts in our Diocese of Shinyanga and we affirm the BUILD mission which is, ‘to enable churches to train their own leaders with a practical understanding of the gospel, Scripture and theology.’ It is our plan to use BUILD training programme as our essential training model to every clergy and lay leader.”

In practice that means, first, “All students trained for ordained ministry from colleges after graduation will be enrolled into BUILD training so that they may be equipped practically for biblical studies, practical theology and leadership development.” And, second, “All evangelists / church planters who will be trained at ACT Shinyanga Mission and Evangelism Centre will be also enrolled in BUILD training programme. Finally, “We will encourage and make plan for Youth leaders, Mothers’ Union leaders, Church elders and Sunday school teachers to be enrolled in BUILD training programme.”

Because the needs are acute and the solution has been embraced, the diocese has already made enormous strides in building-in local sustainability, but that will need to be part of another blog-post. But it would be a shame not to end with testimonies from a few participants.

Michael explained, “I followed BUILD guidelines while preaching the Word somewhere and the local pastor told me, ‘you were so good, you went to college again?’ So for me I have found something of great value. Thank you so much BUILD for making me much better. We need more BUILD.”

Joan adds, “BUILD has been very useful to me because it has given me a speed governor: I used to preach from more than five different bible books but now am giving attention to a specific bible passage.”

Finally, Musa shared, “On leadership, the training has helped me a lot to manage the truth regardless of the environment, the opposition and the false teachings that exist. I believe by the end of this training we will have a new Shinyanga with the courage to stand up and tell the truth, plant more churches and Shinyanga will be drawn to Jesus Christ. Thank you very much for this great and profound vision for thinking about the health of the present church.”

The featured picture is of the block release group with the bishop and others before returning to their parishes.

Training the master trainers for Tanzania’s lake zone

The training-of-trainers or ‘TOT’ is an important and well-worn concept, not just for BUILD, and not only for theological education, but worldwide and across adult education. In BUILD’s four-fold programme structure it provides the foundation for the work. But how can we best equip those who will go on to train and support teams of trainers?

The concept of ‘master trainers’ is not new or unique: it is prevalent in primary education programmes in the global South, where multi-level, cascade models of teacher training are used to scale up education. But for BUILD it is a fresh idea and one that emerged recently by accident. First, a BUILD trainer was released by a bishop in the west of Kenya to serve as ‘missionary clergy’ further afield in East Africa. In the release letter the bishop shared how they would be delighted if the individual concerned could act as a master-trainer in the BUILD programme more widely. Second, at the Mtumba Consultation described in the March blog, the phrase was then used and emerged as a lead idea to help BUILD to grow teams of trainers to operate across multiple training centres. In other words, to address the question of how can we best equip teaching ‘faculties’ for training centres: trainers who can then lead the training of trainers at those centres, and further multiply the work?

As a result our first ever ‘Training of Master Trainers’ or ‘TMOT’ event took place at the Nyakato Bible College near Mwanza, Tanzania from 4 to 8 April. The intention was to train teams for the two main centres for the new initiative: Nyakato Bible College itself – the northern centre for BUILD training in the Lake Zone; and the Shinyanga Mission and Evangelism Training Centre – the zone’s southern centre. Representatives also came from Kagera Christian Theological College to the west of the zone, which plans to integrate BUILD into its training, and from the Diocese of Biharamulo – which also intends to develop a BUILD training programme.

Selection was key, with those attending not only having prior theological education to their name, but also with significant experience of teaching others at a local level. The challenge was to build on that learning and experience but not to be constrained by it – and by the traditional models of teaching and curriculum the delegates were familiar with. Quite a number had significant experience in teaching at local level but introducing a new model of training was not that easy, particularly on the first day.

In order to achieve the new and renewed learning the training focussed primarily on taking the potential master trainers through Module One, exposing them to the main types of learning unit as though they were learners, and discussing together how best to use them to equip others in context. In addition to that time was given towards the end to discuss the planning and implementation of BUILD training in more detail.

The responses on the last day were encouraging: “all the participants appreciated the place and value of BUILD training model, which lays emphasis and focus on the Bible, on practical theology and on leadership”. In part the event’s effectiveness lay in the presence of the two bishops who are ultimately responsible for the two main training centres: Bishop Johnson Chinyong’ole of Shinyanga and Bishop Zephania Ntuza, the new bishop of Victoria Nyanza: together they “were a huge encouragement”. Their involvement meant a great deal to the participants, “who realised that the program has been well received and endorsed by the senior leadership of the Anglican Church of Tanzania”. The real test, however, will be the training that now emerges from those centres.

Mtumba reunions and commitments

The beginning of February witnessed a key consultation for BUILD in the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) at Mtumba Training Centre near Dodoma. The purpose: to consolidate the platform BUILD has in the ACT with a view to growth in BUILD training over the next five years, a period proposed by Archbishop Maimbo Mndolwa.

The focus of the renewed, post-pandemic training efforts will be the Lake Zone Dioceses. Some of these dioceses are listed among the poorest in the world and have some of the most acute training needs, but they are rich in faith and believers and churches are growing in numbers. Shinyanga Diocese, for example, is a missionary diocese under the leadership of the former ACT General Secretary, the now Bishop Johnson Chinyong’ole. There the plans are for the planting of 700 new churches.

The plan is that fresh, block-based training will develop at both the Shinyanga Mission and Evangelism Training Centre in the south of the zone, and at Nyakato Bible College in the north close to Lake Victoria. With day release training emerging there and elsewhere in the zone. Having said that, the current Provincial Christian Education Coordinator, the unstoppable Revd Canon Joseph ‘Argwing’ Adida, has already been renewing people’s enthusiasm further afield as well as spreading the word in new dioceses. Previously trained BUILD trainers are coming out of the woodwork and one of those, Mrs Mercy Mungai, will lead the work in the zone as the ACT Lake Zone BUILD Coordinator.

Quite apart from rebooting and refocusing the work, the consultation led to a number of commitments including to local sustainability at specific levels of training. The document that emerged included key commitments, such as:

  • To highlight the central importance of local, mainly parish based BUILD learning groups, which are locally sustainable;
  • To draw a clear line between those training activities which are locally sustainable, and those that need a mixture of internal and external resources (and that day-release training will be 100% locally sustainable);
  • To update the Swahili translations of the early BUILD modules;
  • To prepare for and deliver a Training-of-Master-Trainers (TOMT) workshop in the week beginning 4 April at Nyakato Bible School, DVN.

It was symbolic that a number of the participants then travelled on from there, first to Shinyanga, to meet clergy and potential participants, and then to DVN, which is under a new bishop, Rt Revd Zephaniah Amos Ntuza, and finally to Nyakato Bible College to meet students and staff there before they host that initial TOMT event in early April. The Mtumba reunions and commitments are already leading to action.

 

Featured photograph: the participants, from left to right, Rev Amon Jackson, Kagera Christian Training College; Revd Capt Ben Kibara, BUILD ACK Coordinator; Revd Canon Joseph Adida ACT Christian Education Coordinator & Acting PBC; Revd Dr Alfred Sebahene, Dean of Theology, SJUT; Rt Revd Johnson Chinyong’ole, Shinyanga Diocesan Bishop; Rev Stanley Sewando, Shinyanga Diocesan Secretary; Mrs Faith Chinyong’ole, Shinyanga Diocesan BUILD Coordinator; Mrs Mercy Mungai, ACT Lake Zone BUILD Coordinator; Rev Enock Chibada, Morogoro, Priest, Bible College Tutor, BUILD Trainer; Rt Revd Zephaniah Amos Ntuza, DVN Diocesan Bishop; Revd David Peter Mhina, Tanga Priest, School Teacher, BUILD Trainer. (Photo taken by Revd Dr Jem Hovil, BUILD Partners Trustee)