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Background and History

Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology
Brief History and Background Overview

Distinctiveness

EGST was jointly founded in 1997 by the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (EKHC), the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) and the Evangelical Churches Fellowship of Ethiopia (ECFE). Together, they represent virtually all of the Protestant evangelical churches in Ethiopia. This joint ownership is an excellent example of partnership and cooperation in Ethiopia by brining ecumenical diversity into unity.

EGST is registered in Ethiopia according to Proclamation Number 691/2003 by the Ministry of Federal Affairs to serve church and society with the objectives of teaching, research and community outreach services in Ethiopia and beyond.

EGST is fully accredited by the Association for Christian Theological Education in Africa (ACTEA) which recognizes the relevance and teaching standards of EGST’s programmes as well as the overall administration and resources of the school. In order to further strengthen its standards and improve its efficiency and effectiveness, EGST is partnering with reputable international universities and research institutions.

Governance and Management

EGST is governed by a constitution and byelaws and overseen by the Council of Owners and Board comprised of EECMY (40%), EKHC (40%) and ECFE (20%), to whom the administration of EGST is fully accountable.

Day-to-day academic and administrative management is under the Faculty Council and Administration Council chaired by the Director. The main administration units are headed up by the Heads of Academic Affairs, Administration and Finance, Development and Communications and Student Affairs.

EGST has had four directors: Dr Peter Cotterell, former Principal of London School of Theology who served as founding director of the school until the end of 1999. He was succeeded by Rev Dr Debela Birri who retired at the end of 2007. Succession passed to Dr Desta Heliso who completed his term at the end of 2015 and was succeeded by Dr Misgana Mathewos in January 2016.

The founding vision was born within the Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS) of EECMY and the Evangelical Theological College (ETC) of EKHC, but the growing need for contextually relevant and affordable graduate level theological education in Ethiopia was perceived within all evangelical churches in the country. So the involvement of the Evangelical Churches Fellowship of Ethiopia (ECFE) was deemed essential in order to facilitate the sharing of the school by the other evangelical churches of Ethiopia. The leaders believed that the constitutional right to freedom of religion and the remarkable growth of churches in Ethiopia provided an unprecedented opportunity to impact society through leadership and scholarship that are creative, biblical, contextually relevant and thoroughly informed by a transforming vision of God’s purpose in and for the world. It was this vision that led to the establishment of EGST and which continues to drive EGST forward today:

VISION

EGST’s vision is to become an institution of academic and research excellence towards stronger churches and transformed society.

MISSION

EGST is a Christian institution that exists to equip Christ-like women and men through theological and related studies and to stimulate research for the service of Church and society in Ethiopia and beyond.

CORE VALUES

The following are the things that are most important to EGST and define what it is:

  • Authority of the Bible – We seek to subject our thoughts and actions to God’s Word and affirm the power of Scripture to effect change in individual lives, churches and society.
  • Mission – We come together as a community of learners not for our sake only but also for the sake of others. We seek to grow in our understanding of God and his ways, so that we may help others to acknowledge his governance over the world with its rich possibilities for both individual transformation and for social and cultural renewal.
  • Contextual Education – We believe that theological education speaks to and out of its local context as a dynamic interaction between the local context, the global context and Scripture.
  • Cooperation and Partnership – We strongly believe that unity among the churches of Ethiopia is important and can be fostered through cooperative, inter-denominational graduate-level theological education. We also seek to partner with individuals, institutions, churches and organizations within and outside Ethiopia.
  • Unity in Diversity – We value learning alongside people from different traditions and churches. Exposure to varying traditions challenges thinking about God and the diversity of his work in the world. While EGST promotes unity it also appreciates and respects diversity.
  • Academic Excellence/Critical Thinking – We value the importance of worshipping God with our minds and strive for excellence both in our rigorous study of Scripture and in our critical analysis of context.
  • Christian Values – We seek to be people who model Christ’s values such as love, humility, compassion, justice, integrity, self-control, and holiness.
  • Ecumenical relationships – We seek to promote ecumenical relationships amongst churches in Ethiopia in order to enhance mutual understanding.

Objectives

The main objectives of EGST are:

  1. To train and equip committed and Christ-like servant leaders, who will impact both church and society,
  2. To equip theological educators for degree and diploma granting training institutions.
  3. To develop Christian educators, who will facilitate training programmes within churches and organizations,
  4. To train those who will engage in pastoral and/or practical ministry in wider church and societal contexts,
  5. To offer courses in areas of missions,
  6. To develop persons in areas of leadership, management, stewardship, development and related fields in connection with theology,
  7. To enable students to initiate, design, manage, implement and evaluate projects through establishing community engagement practicum projects,
  8. To be a research center for studies for local and international scholars in different fields of religions.

Main Work Areas

Towards the fulfilment of these objectives, EGST’s main areas of work are teaching, research and community service

EGST currently offers five programs: Post-Graduate Diploma in Biblical and Theological Studies (PGD), Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies (MABTS), Master of Arts in Leadership and Management (MALM), Master of Arts in Development Studies with specialized areas in HIV, Health and Theology, Gender, Health and Theology, and Community Development and Theology (MADevS), and Master of Theology (MTh). EGST plans to start other fulltime and part time programs and introduce a PhD program in 2016/17.

In its research activities EGST coordinates and conducts various research projects in different disciplines and relating to issues relevant to the Ethiopian context. Research is validated and disseminated through stakeholder workshops and seminars. EGST also founded, organizes and hosts the leading annual Frumentius Lectures, an annual public lecture series offered by renowned scholars from Africa and other continents focusing on issues relevant to the Ethiopian/African Christianity and societal context. Parallel with this, the monthly Academic Seminars are public seminars given by local Christian scholars relating to recent research within their field of expertise to strengthen learning, ecumenical initiatives and public colloquium.

EGST Community Engagement includes maternal and child health projects, gender and health community training and empowerment, community outreach practicum projects, public relations, alumni association and other networks.

Track Record

EGST, through its graduates, is now providing qualified teaching staff to strengthen existing theological institutions in Ethiopia. EGST graduates are employed as instructors and/or administrators in all of the degree-level undergraduate theological institutions in Ethiopia and in many of the diploma programmes. EGST graduates also serve as pastors in different ecclesiastical contexts, particularly in urban settings, as leaders of national, synod and district church offices. Other graduates hold research, leadership, management and technical roles within NGOs and Para-church organizations.

Strategic Plan

EGST’s revised five-year strategic plan (2016-2020) focuses on pillars of academic program development, research excellence and community engagement together with capacity building in areas of vital sustainability; faculty and staff development; infrastructure, resources and systems enhancement.