Dr Helena Hooper, Lecturer, Good News Theological Seminary (GNTS), has rekindled the debate on the ‘Relevance of Theological Education’ to the propagation of the gospel and Church growth.
She said Theological Education was the tool for equipping the whole Church because it was an educational equipping tool that could be used to empower all God’s people for ministry works and ministerial formation for the Kingdom of God.
Dr Hooper said this in her presentation at the launch of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the GNTS in Accra.
Speaking on the topic “Good News Theological Seminary at 50: Seeking Alternatives for Growth: The Theological Education by Extension (TEE) Perspective (as a Tool for the 21st Century Mission)”, Dr Hooper said TEE seeks to answer pertinent questions, as learners’ journey together.
“It is a faith-based programme that grows the knowledge base of the people of God at every level, encouraging them to live out their faith in communities where they find themselves.”
She reiterated that widening access to quality education for the people of God could both help make seminaries and colleges more educationally and financially viable, and serve the Church as it implements the ministry of all.
“In looking at TEE as the alternative for growth, we must look at the quality of relations between the Seminaries’ TEE programmes and the churches they seek to serve,” she said.
She maintained that some TEE programmes help churches provide new believers with a strong foundation for discipleship and other programmes for leadership training.
While others offer a pathway of training from the first steps of faith through active ministry, whether in church or society.
She reiterated that in each case, strong partnerships with denominations and their local churches would surely be vital for the 21st century TEE.
She said the 21st Century TEE programmes would work to stay in relationships with churches they sought to serve; which must include developing and maintaining better processes for listening to churches, and working together with churches to identify curricular areas not yet covered adequately.
“We will grow exponentially if we go back to the TEE programme, rediscover ourselves and identify what made us who we are and give us purpose, begin looking at the churches around, not councils and associations and work with them,” Dr Hooper said.
“Look at us as a seminary, disrobe and re-robe. Let us build our base, run short courses here on campus, run seminars and workshops and certify them even as we begin working in communities, train vibrant facilitators who will engage with people.”
On the way forward, Dr Hooper said the Seminary must be a position to tap into this arena of need now.
She suggested drawing a strategic plan that would look at emerging issues confronting churches, targeting smaller churches and strategically reaching out to them and drawing a light curriculum that spoke to their needs, core values, vision and mission.
Reverend Professor Thomas A. Oduro, President, GNTS, advocated the need for healing the strained relationship between the African Independent Churches (AICs) and the Western Mission-founded Churches.
This, he said, would go a long way to promote peace among Christians in Ghana.
Bishop Thomas Agyare, Governing Board Member, GNTS, who witnessed the birth of the Seminary in 1971, paid tribute to works of the founding fathers.
The arrival of Edwin and Irene Weaver, a Mennonite Missionary couple in Ghana, led to the establishment of the GNTS in Accra in 1971, to train Ghanaian leaders and members of independent churches in Biblical and ministerial matters.