In this edition of ACTEA eNews:
ACTEA takes pleasure in announcing the appointment of the new ACTEA Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Chemengich, who assumed his post on 1 January 2014. Before taking up this appointment, Dr Chemengich served from 2008 to 2013 as Principal of Africa Theological Seminary, an interdenominational institution whose main campus is in Kitale, Kenya, with additional campuses in five other African countries. The institution is presently a candidate for ACTEA accreditation.
Dr Chemengich is a graduate of St. Paul's University in Kenya, and of Westminster Theological Seminary and Lutheran Theological Seminary, both in Philadelphia, USA. His study specialisations are in Biblical Hermeneutics, New Testament, and Christian Education. He focused his thesis research on African realities. He is currently writing a book on church-based alternative adolescent rites of passage for African Christian youth.
Dr Chemengich is an ordained minister with the Anglican Church of Kenya, and has served in Anglican congregational ministries in both Kenya and the USA. He has been married to Dorcas since 1996, and they are blessed with five children, three biological and two adopted. Emmanuel grew up in a dedicated Christian family, which helped him to accept the call into ministry immediately after he completed secondary school. He brings with him vital experience in managing various programmes in organisational, congregational, and institutional settings. He has particular interest in the church's involvement in the community. In this regard, he and his wife founded Mwamba Foundation, an organisation offering high school scholarships to needy students. He also chairs and sits on the boards of several parachurch organisations and institutions in Kenya.
ACTEA also takes pleasure in reporting the appointment of Mrs. Florence Kagwamba as the new ACTEA Administrative Assistant. Flo, as she prefers to be called, is a seasoned management professional with expertise in executing administrative solutions. Until recently she was working with Africa International University (formerly NEGST) as the Executive Assistant to the Vice Chancellor, Dr Douglas Carew. Serving at AIU for the past eight years, she was actively involved in the Award to AIU of the Charter by the Kenyan Government. She was also involved with AIU’s recent AIU Polices Launch, where she sat in the relevant committees and led in preparation of these major events.
Flo is a graduate of Kenya Methodist University with a BBA in Entrepreneurship, as well as Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) with a Diploma in Business Management, and also Air Travel and Tours Training College with a Diploma in Travel. She is currently enrolled in a Master of Business Administration at Africa Nazarene University in Nairobi, with a double major in Project Management and Conflict Ethics and Governance.
Flo has been married to Edward for 7 years, and together they have been blessed with two children, Giovanni (5 years) and Gianna (2 years). As a family they worship at Nairobi Chapel, and Flo leads the Karen Ekklesia Group (home fellowship).
As an additional component of its new beginnings, ACTEA announces the establishment of its new, permanent offices at the premises of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) in Nairobi, Kenya. AEA, as ACTEA’s parent organisation, will provide important strategic liaison for ACTEA with all AEA’s member organisations across the continent and internationally.
The new ACTEA office address is:
Please note that, whereas the acronym ‘ACTEA’ remains the same for this continental movement, that acronym now stands for different content. ‘ACTEA’ now stands for “Association for Christian Theological Education in Africa”. This change of name from the former version (Accrediting Council for Theological Education in Africa) more reliably reflects the broader functions of ACTEA, which from its founding in 1976 have always intentionally included much more than accreditation services, providing member institutions with a range professional support services, together with a platform for networking and collaboration both continentally and internationally. This reframing of ACTEA’s designation is also in line with sister organisations on other continents within the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education (ICETE), which employ “Association” in their names for the same reason.
These latest developments in ACTEA’s endeavour to make a fresh start were confirmed at a meeting of the ACTEA Council, ACTEA’s highest governance body. The Council met in Nairobi, Kenya, on 16 November 2013, in the board room of the Association of Evangelical in Africa (AEA).
The Council approved the restructuring of organisational governance and management structures to streamline ACTEA operations. At the governance level, the Council set up a new organ, the ACTEA Advisory Board, to provide senior-level consultative assistance. It also expanded membership of the Executive Committee to include all of the four African regions: Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone, and Ethiopia. In addition the Council committed to establish new policy procedures to govern the Advisory Board, Executive Committee, and Council organs. At the management level, the Council approved that the Executive Director will be assisted by Accrediting and Networking officers, in addition to an Executive Assistant and a part-time Accountant. Although financial support for staffing mainly depends on annual fees, two donors have supported ACTEA in subsidizing salaries.
Finally, the ACTEA Executive Committee and Council committed to engage in the following: to revise the Constitution to reflect newly approved organisational changes, to digitalise all office records, to develop a new operational manual, to develop a strategic plan, to improve ACTEA publicity, and to establish new and refresh old strategic partnerships.
These recent developments reflect the passion of ACTEA to see a revitalisation of its operations towards achievement of its mission: “to promote quality evangelical theological education in Africa, by providing supporting services, facilitating academic recognition, and fostering continental and inter-continental cooperation.”
The process of searching for a new full-time Executive Director, and an Administrative Assistant, together with establishing a permanent ACTEA office, was initiated by the ACTEA Executive Committee in early 2013, a process that culminated in the decisions of November 2013 and full implementation in January 2014. From November 2013 through January 2014, ACTEA's outgoing Director, Rev. Joe Simfukwe, has been coordinating handover and orientation activities for the incoming Director and staff. As part of this transition, Joe and Emmanuel made institutional visits in January 2014 to two schools in western Kenya: Friends Theological College (FTC) in Kaimosi, and Kima International School of Theology (KIST) in Kima. Further such familiarisation visits are planned throughout 2014. Dr. Rich Stuebing, ACTEA Deputy Director, is working with the ACTEA Chair, Dr. Desta Heliso, and the new leadership and staff, to establish job descriptions and division of labour for the longer term.
Please pray for the successful mission of ACTEA’s following planned events for 2014:
Ezigbo, Victor I. Re-Imagining African Christologies: Conversing
with the Interpretations and Appropriations of Jesus Christ in African
A Nigerian theologian who did his MA at Wheaton College and his MTh and PhD in Edinburgh, the author here constructs a detailed description and critique of two kinds of African (especially Nigerian) Christology: that of academic theologians, and that of grassroots Christians. The academics’ approaches, of seeing Jesus (a) using Western theological formulations or (b) as the fulfilment of some aspect African religion (e.g. Jesus as ancestor), or (c) as liberator (which Ezigbo describes in detail), fail to impact the average Christian African. Ezigbo’s interviews with grassroots Christians, on the other hand, reveal a Christology that sees Jesus primarily as a Solution to life’s problems and Enabler of people’s aspirations. Ezigbo’s contention is that African theologians must now move beyond the old paradigm of responding to Western disdain of African traditional religions, and as well the quest suggested by John V. Taylor (in his 1963 classic, The Primal Vision) for Jesus as the answer to questions Africans would ask. Africa’s context has changed. African theology must impact the church at the grassroots, and have universal relevance. In response, Ezigbo proposes his “Revealer Christology Model.” In this model, Jesus is not just the solution for people’s perceived needs; he also brings his own agenda and questions. Jesus critiques, remoulds and informs people about what their real problems are and what God’s solutions are. Ezigbo gives a chapter each to (1) the idea of revelation in Africa and in theology, (2) how Christ reveals God to people, (3) how Christ reveals the real situation among people, God, and evil spiritual beings, and (4) how Christ reveals the true meaning, identity, and hope of humanity. These revelations require adjustment in thinking and practice, dethroning people’s own agendas and conforming to that of Christ. The book is well organised and the argument, though detailed, is easy to follow. Dozens of African theologians from a wide range of positions are discussed. This is a valuable book for anyone doing theological work, especially in Africa, whether academically or at the grassroots. It would be an asset in any theological library.
Sanneh, Lamin. Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African
Sanneh begins his memoir with a brief account of a visit in 2008 to the village of Georgetown on an island in the River Gambia in West Africa. This is where he was raised within an impoverished polygamous Muslim African family in a community wholly circumscribed by Islam. The beginning of the book creates the suspicion that the “homecoming” in the sub-title alludes to this return journey to Georgetown. But, in fact, the homecoming refers to his reception into the Roman Catholic Church some decades after his unlikely conversion from Islam to Christianity while still a young man in Gambia in 1961. Though the book opens selected windows onto Sanneh’s life, there is a sense in which Sanneh’s memoir is less personal than it is personal intellectual history. Those familiar with Sanneh’s writings will profit from seeing the way in which the ideas for which he has become justly well-known in his professional life emerge out of the extraordinary trajectory of his personal life. Those new to Sanneh will value the summaries of the major strands of his thought which have helped establish him as a major intellectual force in the study both of Islam and of what he prefers to call “world” (as opposed to “global”) Christianity. Sanneh’s early academic focus on Islam, together with his early life in Islam, helped make possible his later insights into the nature of world Christianity, Christian expansion and mission. Thus, for instance, did Sanneh intuitively resist the still common belief that Christian expansion in Africa advanced within conditions made conducive by colonialism. Instead, in contrast to the Islam of his early years, Sanneh was struck by Christianity’s inherent embrace of the vernacular, and made this the explanation for Christian expansion. Thus did he then come to vest the significance of the Western missionary movement primarily in vernacular Bible translation. This insight also helped him see how, in contrast to the often destructive impact of Islamic expansion on local cultures, the rooting of Christian faith in vernacular languages has served the cause of cultural renewal. Students of comparative religion are not generally disposed to speak of false religion or false teachers, and Sanneh is no different. Alongside the ambivalence he often experienced from the Church, perhaps that scholarly disposition helps explain those seasons of his life in which he was more an observer than a participant in the Church. And perhaps these things, too, explain why there is very little indication that proclamation and persuasion play much of a role in his own sense of mission. But when he speaks, as he does in this book, of his own profound experience in leaving the religion of his birth to follow the resurrected Jesus, he is at times a powerful witness to the truth.