The Organization of African Instituted Churches has continued the process of expanding and updating its Theological Education curriculum. In 2012, the general objectives for the Theology and Ministry Formation Program were to strengthen the provision of theological education in and for the African Independent Church context as well as to articulate the interest of the AIC in the wider ecumenical context. These two goals were achieved through various projects and activities throughout the year to strengthen the training program and work towards creating a stronger connection with the OAIC international office. Now as we are fully into 2013, the OAIC seeks to expand on these objectives to create an appropriate methodology which better suites the AIC context through connection with reality and sustainability of AIC education and training centers.
This process of expanding and updating has been an extensive journey in which to best comprehended through examining the history of the OAIC theological education program. Before there was a system in place for theological education, the OAIC did face some challenges. An example of one of these original challenges was that AIC churches were giving responsibilities to members without training. Therefore, the needs of its members potentially were not met due to lack of training leaders. From this lack of experience within the churches, complexity arose and the OAIC commenced the Theological Training Program. Initially, the OAIC’s staff was in charge of the theological education within the churches. The leadership theological education programs were introduced in the mid 1990’s and by 1997 was able to reach several member churches within the OAIC membership. This program was able to award certificates and provide curriculum that the OAIC could monitor. Historically there were no requirements for church service it was based solely on practical will and ability of the person. This program brought the AIC’s to a more modern theological education, training and gave them more abilities to serve their congregations.
Currently, the OAIC is facing the challenge of sustainability and discovering what is the best method for sustaining its theological education program. There is a new method of mentoring that the OAIC is currently using which looks at the AIC’s and how they progress as well as making a theological student connect what they are learning with their own realities within their churches. This appropriate training requires an understanding of “who we are as AIC’ says Venerable Gichimu (the Theological Education Program coordinator in the OAIC). In theological understanding, things need to be put in such a way that we as the AIC’s can relate to the reality around us. Our master plan said Venerable Gichimu “is to determine how we can develop policy, curriculum and methodology accurately to best suite our churches in the contemporary sphere.” Our policy is to have churches start their own theological education programs for those who are able. Those who cannot independently have their own programs, create an interdenominational program having more than one church work together for their theological education. The final method possible is to have a conventional theological program. The OAIC accompanies these programs to enable churches to realize their objectives and goals.
Continuing to advance this methodology to expand and determine how we can connect with other Christian churches is currently taking place within the OAIC. The OAIC is currently moving towards training tutors with theological knowledge and accomplishment to teach them how this knowledge can best be used within the AIC context. The OAIC seeks to accompany these churches to grow through their theological education.
There are many churches the OAIC has currently accompanied by way of consultation and minimum funding in this growth thus far. The OAIC is working to strengthen its ties through lecture training mainly at St. Pauls University and Carlile College. In addition to the lecture training, the OAIC has continued to walk with these churches through book support with the ADC, facilitation and meetings with their leadership for quality control to determine what is needed. The OAIC is seeking to continue this partnership to make the leadership to see and catch on to the vision of the OAIC. Rather than being trained solely in conventional institutions, we need to work together to strengthen our own to work to keep our leaders within our churches. It is the current hope that both of these institutions as well as others within the OAIC will grow with the OAIC together to continue to reinforce our theological education process.