With all that is going on in the United States at present, it is easy to get consumed by local and national news. However, it is important to remember our international context and that VTS is just one of many theological institutions in the Anglican Communion. Some we pray for in our Anglican Cycle of Prayer, and with a few of them, VTS has developed formal institutional partnerships. In this month’s Anglican Commentary, we hear from three of VTS’s partner institutions: Ming Hua Theological College in Hong Kong, Msalato Theological College in Dodoma, Tanzania, and St. George’s College in Jerusalem. Their leaders share how they have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, their plans for the future, and how we can support them through prayer and attention.
Ming Hua Theological College, Hong Kong:
HKSKH Ming Hua Theological College has just completed something I never expected to see: an entire semester delivered online, streamed over the Internet!
More than fifty students, eight courses, and two programmes, all successfully completed on time and without complaint. I’ve never been prouder of our students and Faculty and we all give thanks for our work and sharing together, in Christ and thereby one with another.
Of course, here in Hong Kong we have been under one health restriction or another since early February, restrictions that have severely limited any College activities. But we have been greatly delighted to have Father John Kater with us, all the way from Virginia and Berkeley.
And we have shared our classes with two much-loved TEC students, Vivian from Taiwan and Samuel from Long Island. Truly the Anglican Communion has been living together in these months of virus and lockdown.
We are also looking forward, however, as we begin to come out of the health emergency. This summer we are celebrating a short term of classes and lectures entitled “Voices Of Our Land”, including Greek and Hebrew courses. And we are completing the accreditation of our new D.Ed.Min program, to be delivered in partnership with VTS. We are hugely excited to be offering this new program in autumn 2020.
These have been hard days for everyone, and we have thought and prayed constantly for our sisters and brothers at VTS. God willing these times of fellowship and unity will continue into our future together, in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Professor Gareth Jones, Principal
Msalato Theological College, Dodoma, Tanzania
HE IS EMMANUEL TO US
The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania ordered a closure of all learning institutions since 16th, March 2020 in order to reduce the spread of the virus in the country. That was very strictly enforced with no schools reopened until instructed to do so by the government.
We give thanks to God as now the closure period is over. He is so amazing to all of us. Students, staff and all faculty are already back to their respective colleges and universities in the country. This is because the Government of Tanzania ordered all higher learning institutions to be reopened from June 1st, 2020, though with all precautions and restrictions as the COVID-19 is still around. MTC was opened by a service June 6th, 2020. Its classes resumed June 8th, 2020. We are all abided on prayers, precautions and restrictions.
The college campus was so quiet during the closure as all students were back to their rural homes except a few BA year 3 married students, a few teaching staff and non-teaching staff who also live on the college campus. Apart from teaching, many college duties and daily operational activities continued as usual but mainly working from home. Gathering and physical attendance was also happening - for staff meetings and other concerns which needed decision making.
As you may know, MTC is still growing. It is not yet at a point of offering online studies, so all studies were completely closed. Currently life is challenging and too expensive. The cost of commodities and various basic needs have doubled in price. Life is still difficult even now when students are back due to financial difficulties. However, we trust God is still in control. He will never leave us alone.
Please join us in prayers for the following:
1. Quick recovery for those affected by COVID-19 in the world
2. DCT Clergy Conference in August 2020
3. The United Republic of Tanzania as it works towards mitigating the effects on COVID-19 on its nationals
4. That MTC and other colleges will get cushions to see them through financial difficulties arising from the COVID-19 situation.
5. MTC principal and the faculty as we strategize around ways of offering learning amidst the challenges.
6. Our new academic year in August 2020.
7. Our partnership and companionship
With thanks and prayers,
Rev. Canon Hilda Kabia, Principal
St. George’s College, Jerusalem:
When the coronavirus pandemic first hit the Holy Land, several pilgrims had just arrived for one of our study pilgrimages. Our first real task was to work out how to get them back on a plane, safely out of the country before flights started to get cancelled. Since that moment at the beginning of March, we have had no pilgrims or visitors of any kind.
However, we have not been idle. We were unable to leave the Cathedral Close and all the holy sites were closed so instead the resident staff of the College led a Virtual Pilgrimage by posting a photo and a meditation on Facebook every day through Lent, culminating in our resurrection posts for Easter. This Virtual Pilgrimage garnered significant interest through our networks and helped us to feel connected with our friends around the world. The posts can be seen either on Facebook or via our website www.saintgeorgescollegejerusalem.com
under About and Resources.
Following that, we have produced a series of short Pilgrim Talks which give a flavour of the way we do pilgrimage at the College. An informative talk usually given by our Course Director, Canon Mary June Nestler, is illustrated with photos and maps. The topics are: Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Desert and the Holy Sepulchre. They are all available on YouTube and you can find them by searching for St George’s College, Jerusalem. These films have given us something to get involved with and we have found them both challenging and rewarding to do.
Our fellowship and activities have been significantly constrained by the conditions of lockdown. However, we have been sustained first by virtual Morning and Evening Prayer and more recently by gathering on the roof of the College to pray and share. Tough times have brought some unexpected graces and pleasures. We appreciate the prayers and support of so many people around the world.
The Very Rev. Richard Sewell, Dean