The first seven graduates of St. Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College in Gambella, Ethiopia, have received their certificates.
Present at the ceremony were the Rt. Rev. Peter Gatbel Kunen Lual, Bishop of Nasir; Church Mission Society mission partners Chris and Suzy Wilson, who are part of the leadership team at the college; CMS mission partner Rosemary Burke; and Johann Vanderbijl, the first dean of the college, and his wife Louise.
Two of the seven graduates are refugees and the others are from two different ethnic groups that have a history of conflict. At several points during their studies during the past three years, high levels of ethnic tensions in Gambella made it unsafe for students to meet on campus together, the Wilsons said.
St. Frumentius’ is the first Anglican theological training college in Ethiopia, and was created in response to a great need for theological training in the area. The church is growing rapidly in Ethiopia, largely through the migration of South Sudanese Christian refugees.
“We are seeing local people coming to faith, communities changed, and tribal tensions addressed,” said Chris Wilson, who oversees the college’s teaching program. “The students had been away from Gambella for 10 weeks of field education, and in that time one student, Pastor Isaac, planted a church and baptized 54 people, and there were reports of many people making decisions to follow Christ, people healed and set free from various forms of affliction, including alcoholism.”
Another student, a Sudanese refugee, helped build a church in a refugee camp. Christians living in the camp made round trips of two and a half hours into the mountains to bring bamboo to build a new church.
Other graduates, such as Ajikune and Awar, have begun discipleship among young people in the Gambella region through sport and Bible teaching.
In the last five years, more than 300,000 people have fled from South Sudan to the Gambella region. St. Frumentius’ provides support and training for current and prospective church leaders from 10 different ethnic groups, including many refugees from South Sudan and Sudan.
Adapted from Church Mission Society