words by chris
The last time I wrote about the state of the seminary, we thought now we would be informing you of a new rector at the seminary to move theological education forward and continue the work that has been underway over the last few years. However, until January 31, I remain the interim rector. Unfortunately an economic downtown, increased taxes on religious organizations and properties, as well as many churches unable to give to the national budget what they had hoped has put the seminary—and many other national Ecuadorian ministries here—in a financial bind. Unable to take on an additional salary for a rector, the board voted in November that the seminary would have to be administered through the volunteers that make up the board, the academic council, and the volunteer coordinators of the regional education centers.
We currently have over 140 students enrolled in a variety of programs in 6 different districts (dioceses/conferences) coming from a variety of ethnic, educational, and social backgrounds. By having each district education center run by a local coordinator, the curriculum and classroom can be adjusted to better respond to the context and challenges the students face as leaders and pastors in their communities. Please pray for our coordinators—Diana, Edison, Washington, Cheryll, Alfredo, and Armando—as they lead these centers for little to no remuneration, yet full of teaching, administration, and counsel.
In other exciting news, our first group of Bachelors in Christian Ministry students has begun online courses through a partnership with the Centro Hispano de Estudios Teológicos (CHET) in Compton, CA. This group has been working for several years to meet the requirements and saving funds in order to study at this level. We have 7 to 8 students who will be enrolled this month. The Coastal Coordinator and fellow ECC Serve Globally Mission Personnel colleague Cheryll Clark has headed this pilot program since 2015 and we are so grateful the students have persevered.
So, as I transition out of this role, we ask that you would continue to pray for the seminary, the board and academic council (Francisco, Cheryll, Edgar, Wilfrido, Washington, and Patricia), the coordinators, and of course all the students as they continue to analyze, reflect, read, write, present, and practice what it means to be agents of transformation in their communities—seeking a more just, peaceful, equitable, and loving world through the presence and care of God.
Personally, this has been a challenging and simultaneously rewarding time. I have been able to address some of the concerns I have for pastoral preparation in the 21st century and see how some adjustments can be made to how education becomes accessible to many. I have been able to partner with many amazing friends and colleagues, teach, write, and learn. I have been able to work on my aversion to an abundance of administrative work, while having an amazing view of the city and the volcano Pichincha. I have been able to take the bus to the office for $0.35 each way. I have been challenged to take on more responsibility, while also learning how to solicit opinion, critique, and help.
We continue now to transition well back to the United States and packing for our Home Assignment. So, as I report to you one last time as the interim rector I leave you with the verse that appears on many of our documents and degrees here; and may we all be encouraged by the Word of Life, Christ, to pursue and live a good and right life.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living” — 2 Timothy 3.16 (CJB)