August 16, 2019
Symposium attendees at Africa University
A symposium was held Wednesday, Aug. 8, at Africa University in preparation for the launch of a Doctor of Ministry program in chaplaincy based at the UMC-affiliated university near Mutare, Zimbabwe.
There has been much interest in military engagements in Zimbabwe for quite some time. However, the nation is still under international sanctions, so there can be no direct military-to-military engagements.
But the U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols, did approve of multilateral encounters, as long as money from the Defense and State departments is not used to finance Zimbabwean military endeavors.
Once the ambassador was on board, a parallel project was discussed with Dr. Jim Salley, Associate Vice - Chancellor for Institutional Advancement at AU, and Africa University to host a symposium a couple of years ago. This was the seed concept that came to fruition on Aug. 8th. The symposium was the final needs assessment for the upcoming pilot African military chaplain D.Min. program beginning in January 2020.
The Wesley Theological Seminary offered the template for the D.Min. program as well as first iteration professor assistance in the areas of Leadership, History and Moral Injury. This partnership is a vital component to making this program come to life. A student in the WTS D.Min. for Military Chaplains is taking the same courses and doing the analytical and adaptive work for the African context.
The U.S. military will support the event with experts in the areas of Ethics, Pastoral Care and Deployment Cycle Support.
Since it is an Africa University degree program, there will be a lead professor from the AU faculty in each class.
Bishop Leonard Fairley and the Kentucky Annual Conference have provided tremendous support in the resourcing of the symposium, which initially brought the 10 chaplains together from the four South African Developmental Community Countries – two each from Zambia, Botswana and Malawi, and four from Zimbabwe.
Col. David Lile, a UMC elder from Kentucky, has been the coordinator among the multiple militaries and the AU/WTS contingents. Dr. Salley is the key force behind the resourcing and major AU machinations. And the Vice Chancellor, Professor Munashe Furusa, and Africa University Institute of Theology and Religious Studies Director, Dr. Bishau on the AU faculty are the key drivers on the course layout and curriculum.
The course is a two-year, 10-course program with degree-awarding project for completion. The courses move toward credentialing chaplains who can in turn design, build and execute national or regional chaplain centers and schools.