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Friends Theological College Celebrates 70 Years of Formal Education

By Ann Riggs, FTC principal

When the first Quaker missionaries traveled to Kenya in 1902, their goal was to create and nurture a self-sustaining, self-propagating, native church. Those early leaders may have never foreseen that Friends in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda would now equal 10 times the number of FUM Friends in North America.

Need for formal theological education in East Africa was inevitable. A native church must be served and nurtured by native leaders. A self-propagating church is a church able to send its own trained evangelists and other missionaries. Sustaining a church requires spiritual and theological resources gained in advanced study as well as physical and financial resources.

The need for an institution to provide formal theological education for Africans led to the creation of Friends Bible Institute, in Lugulu, Kenya, in 1942. In the 1950s, the college-to-be moved to Kaimosi, near the offices of East Africa Yearly Meeting. Even at Kaimosi, however, the college struggled to grow to its full potential to prepare Africans for ministry. In the mid-1990s, when enrollment had dropped to six students, the board of governors of the college and the leadership of East Africa Yearly Meeting asked FUM and U.S. Friends to assist them in developing and administering the institution.

Through your prayers and generous assistance, the school has grown and blossomed. Friends have supported the work of a series of North American principals: Rich and Sandy Davis, Stan and Karen Bauer, Patrick Nugent and Mary Kay Rehard, Ben and Jody Richmond. The school has grown to become Friends Theological College (FTC), offering a variety of programs of study up to the Bachelor of Theology. Working with the Accrediting Council for Theological Education in Africa (ACTEA), we aspire to meet the educational standards of the 21st century.

In this 70th anniversary year we rejoice at all that has come to be! You have my heartfelt thanks for all you have contributed to this vital work.