What do People need and expect from theological institutions?
For many years, theological education focused its brand as a scholastic, intellectual and philosophical discipline. It was natural to classify it in many universities under the department of Philosophy and Arts. No doubt, attaining “good theology” requires an integration and interaction of many disciplines including exegesis, doctrine, history, anthropology and philosophy, all of which require intellectual skills such as analytical, critical and logical thinking. However, theological education lost much ground when it satisfied itself with such an approach, neglecting its purpose and the groups it was targeted to serve. Accordingly, there was not enough effort to relate the educational approach to both the purpose and the people it intended to serve.
In our new curriculum and after the many challenges which resulted from the Arab Spring, we found ourselves in ETSC in dire need of making each course we offer be purpose driven and mission oriented towards serving our church, nation and region. This requires that analytical, critical and logical approaches must lead towards the transformation of people’s lives. The scholastic and philosophical approaches should not be a destination by themselves. Rather, they should inform, direct and transform the field and market, i.e., life outside the church’s walls.
By the end of this month, we will have our graduation ceremony and our students and graduates will go to their assigned field ministries. Please pray for them and for us to see fruitful results out of the changes we made in our new curriculum. We appreciate your ongoing support to ETSC and continue to see in many ways the impact of our ministry on the church of Egypt and the Middle East.
Atef Gendy (Ph. D.)
President of ETSC
Spring in Cairo can mean daytime temperatures varying from the 70s to 90s. The winds could be the wicked khamaseen winds that are the dry, hot, sandy local wind, blowing from the south Sahara. This year we have been blessed with balmy evening breezes cooling off apartments and dormitory rooms. The jacarandas are in bloom and the 2014 campus landscaping is being well maintained and adds to our pleasure every day.
Our students returned from their Easter break and are gearing up for the final four weeks of classes, examinations and graduation on May 29th. Our fulltime Ordination Track students received information about their Summer Internships as well as the churches the graduates will serve beginning this summer. Spring is always an exciting time for new beginnings here at ETSC.
Thank you for your prayers for Dr. Atef Gendy’s March 17-31 travels that included speaking to congregations in Florida, Atlanta and Boston. American Christians peppered him with questions about the situation for Christians in the Middle East. Through sermons, adult forums and one-to-one conversations he shared the important role that ETSC plays in serving the Church in the Synod of the Nile and throughout the Middle East. On Sunday, March 22 he preached at Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church in Naples FL. (link to sermon )
On April 19th he preached at Forest Hills Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan and spoke to a gathering at Calvin Theological Seminary. One of the responses to his address by blogger Reeds in the Wind included: There have been great opportunities for the Christian Church in Egypt to revisit the message of the Gospel, looking toward peace and forgiveness, and how to love their Muslim neighbor. (Dr Atef) asked that we continue to pray for the Church in Egypt and the Seminary, for peace and opportunities for the message of the whole Gospel to go to the whole people. He specifically said that the seminary is looking at Market Theology, making theological education more practical and less theoretical, which encouraged me……..”
He was in Grand Rapids at the invitation of the Overseas Council (OC) and Scholar Leaders International (SL), to spend three days of intensive work together to set the course for the coming months and years of strategic planning that will advance the missions of each school as they learn together about planning and strategy. “Vital Sustainability” will become a community of mutual concern for the global church.
Atef will speak in several settings for the Reformed Mission League, The Netherlands (GZB) June 12-17;; in different settings with the Church of Scotland June 18-25; at the New Wilmington Mission Conference in Pennsylvania on July 22; the PC(USA) Middle East Caucus July 28 and he will lead three seminars at the PC(USA) Big Tent conference July 30 to August 1. Our partners in these locations are invited to contact us for details.
Our students have also been honored with invitations to participate in International conferences. Samer Karem will be in the Netherlands June 11-24 for the GZB Mission Conference and visits to congregations. He will be accompanied on his first plane ride by Atef Gendy, who will be a speaker for the conference. Samer’s expert translator will be none other than Dr. Willem deWit, Assistant Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies in the ETSC M.A. program since 2008.
Botross Fadel and Gamel Fawzy are 2015 M.Div graduates and Sameh Raheef is a third year student. They will be attending the Canadian School of Peace Building at the Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. They will all be enrolled for one week in Youth Voices and Peace Activism.
Sameh and Gamel opted for The Justice of God: Questions of Justice in the Bible and the World for their second week of class while Botross takes Train the Trainer: Working for Conflict Transformation. ETSC is grateful for this opportunity for these students.
The investment of time and treasure in the Center for Middle East Christianity continues to bear fruit for the wider Christian Church and brings many people together in various gatherings. Fifty students and researchers are enrolled in a training course on “Arab Christian Theology” in partnership with Bibliotheca Alexandria. It met on Fridays and Saturdays over three weekends. The speaker for the April public monthly lecture was the head of the Coptic Studies Center at Bibliotheca Alexandrina. He spoke on “Coptic Christianity.” CMEC’s fourth book, Ammar al-Basri and Arab Theology comes out next week. Ammar was a 9th century Arab Christian theologian. We praise God for the important work being done under the leadership of Dr. Wageeh Mikhail at the CMEC.
Pray for ETSC
We praise God for the success of Samy Estafanos in defending his dissertation research at Princeton Theological Seminary. He will be awarded the PhD on May 23, 2015. Please pray for Samy’s family as they finish out their school year and make the transition back to Cairo after six years of living in New Jersey.
Continue in prayer for our students as they complete this academic year and for the families of the graduates as they prepare to travel to Cairo for the celebration of their graduations.
For Sherif Habib completing the second of three cohort based terms in the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary as he pursues his Doctorate of Missiology.
For the difficult situation for Christians throughout the Middle East and the role ETSC plays as a beacon of light providing a sound theological education for church leaders and pastors.