For quite a long time students have been able to study for pastoral ministry through their yearly meetings while living at home, but these programs have not awarded accreditation documents. Members of the Friends Theological College Board of Governors have for some time been concerned that these local programs have been drawing students away from FTC, and weakening the college’s educational endeavors, but at the same time, they realize without these programs many students due to the expense of theological education or responsibilities at home would not have a chance to undertake training for ministry among Friends. As a result, board members have been meeting with Friends at Kitale Friends School of Theology, a program of Elgon East YM, and at Elgon Religious Society of Friends in Lugulu to plan possible solutions to these intersecting problems.
On 23 March 2013 the FTC Board considered two collaborative proposals outlining models that could possibly provide a solution.
The Lugulu model proposes that FTC personnel facilitate the certificate program of FTC at the yearly meeting offices of Elgon Religious Society of Friends in Lugulu. The model would be similar to the modular “school-based” program at FTC. Students would participate in a few intensive weeks of study three times a year. The yearly meeting would arrange for housing for those who do not live close enough to the yearly meeting campus to commute each day and for meals. A student following this model would earn a certificate from FTC in two years.
The Elgon East/Kitale model is a bit different. This school has a strong faculty and is currently conducting classes. This proposal affiliates the Elgon East program with FTC, using FTC curriculum and having examinations marked at the same time and with the same standards as the examinations at FTC in Kaimosi. This educational approach is in a trimester format allowing students to reside at home and commute to the Elgon East campus. Participants in this program would be considered full-time students and earn their certificate in one year.
Both models seem to be promising ways to provide high quality theological education while keeping costs down and at the same time strengthening the relationships between FTC and the yearly meetings.
In each case, we hope that students who take the certificate, the lowest level of post-secondary school study in educational systems that draw on the British system of higher education, will be so excited by learning that they will continue on to take the Diploma in Theology or Bachelor’s in Theology at Kaimosi.
We hope to later add the Advanced Certificate in Chaplaincy at both sites, at Lugulu in the two year “school-based” format and at Kitale in the one year full-time format.
On a more personal note, I was recently blessed to participate in the dedication to the Lord of the infant son of an FTC staff member. Children in Kenya often are named after a person or event that marks the time of their birth. Jay Riggs is named after myself and Jay Marshall, dean of Earlham School of Religion. One can only be confident that Jay Riggs with such a distinctive name will grow up to be a scholar, an administrator or a missionary. Whatever plans the Lord has made for little Jay, I know they will be blessed ones.