ELKHART, Indiana (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) — After a delay of two years due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Ethiopian students in Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary’s (AMBS) Master of Arts: Theology and Global Anabaptism (MATGA) program are finally able to gather for the in-person portion of the curriculum in Ethiopia.
The students are enrolled in a customized version of the 46-credit-hour program that AMBS is providing in Ethiopia through a partnership with Meserete Kristos Seminary (MKS) in Debre Zeit/Bishoftu – with a special emphasis on peace studies.
Between May 16 and July 1, 2022, three AMBS faculty members are traveling to MKS to teach intensive courses in person for the Ethiopian student cohorts. James R. Krabill, PhD, Core Adjunct Faculty, is currently teaching “God’s Shalom and the Church’s Witness.” Beginning June 1, David Boshart, PhD, President, will teach “Christian Leadership in the 21st Century.” Following Boshart, Drew Strait, PhD, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, will teach “Biblical Foundations for Peace and Justice.”
The MKS-AMBS partnership came into being when MKS leaders invited AMBS to help them develop a graduate-level program to educate leaders for the Meserete Kristos Church (the Ethiopian Mennonite Church), expressing a need “for trained leaders and other professionals capable of defending the faith and promoting peace by interfaith dialogue, human rights and interethnic peacebuilding.” The program launched at the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year, right before COVID-19 began.
The students in the Ethiopian cohorts are MKS graduates who were recommended by seminary administrators. Their customized MA program calls for them to take a combination of contextualized courses that explicitly engage the content within the Ethiopian context, and regular online AMBS courses in which they interact with AMBS students from across the world. Until now, they have only been able to do the latter.
“We are grateful to all students who persevered through this time and continued with the courses AMBS has been providing online,” wrote Beverly Lapp, EdD, Vice President and Academic Dean, and Scott Janzen, MDiv, Assistant Dean and Registrar, in a May 11 letter to the Ethiopian MATGA students. “The faculty, staff and students of AMBS are praying for the professors and students of the MATGA Ethiopia program, that the [in-person] classes would be productive and fruitful, and for the safety of all who must travel.”
Since the MATGA program launched, Henok Mekonin, MA — a graduate of both AMBS and MKS who is from Nazreth, Oromiya region, Ethiopia — has played a key role in assisting AMBS administrators and faculty with communication and intercultural consulting for the Ethiopian cohorts. As of May 1, he has formally joined AMBS’s staff as full-time Global Leadership Collaborative (GLC) Specialist, with funding for half of his position coming from Mennonite Mission Network. Boshart noted that in Mekonin’s new role, he will continue to provide specialized expertise for the MATGA Ethiopia partnership while also supporting the planning, implementation and evaluation of AMBS’s GLC initiatives more broadly.
—Annette Brill Bergstresser
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