Thanks for your continued partnership with Friends Theological College and for your support with prayers and gifts. We are pleased to share our October 2019 FTC newsletter with you. Many churches have set aside October as Pastor Appreciation Month. Here at FTC, October 19 was observed differently with ‘pomp and ululation’ and as 80 students successfully completed their programs of study and were awarded certificates in Pastoral Ministry, diploma in Theology, and Bachelor of Theology degrees. Our guest speaker, Dr. Ezekiel Mutua, CEO, Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB), known among the Kenyan society as the “moral policeman” could not stress enough on family and Christian values in his speech.
The graduation ceremony was preceded by planting trees. The guest speaker, Principal Wafula, Board Chair Stephen Mundalo, and Quaker Men International VP George Namiti planted each a memorable tree. These trees were planted in what came to be named “Dr. Wafula Park for Recreation, Meditation, and Solitude.” This park was also dedicated by the guest speaker and seasoned by prayers led by the FTC Campus Minister, Pastor Martin Simiyu. The board and the FTC community named the park after the Principal, Robert J. Wafula in honor of his dedicated service to the college and the reclamation of green space on campus and push for conservation of the Kaimosi natural forest. Some three years ago, the space between the administration building and staff residence was brown and naked, but now it is green with both exotic and indigenous trees. At every graduation weekend, the Principal has led graduating students to each plant a tree.
This year’s commencement took place in a new site. For Friends who are familiar with the FTC campus, it is at the volleyball pitch, east of the dining hall and north of Splendour Women’s Hostel. The one hundred seat structure was constructed with lumber harvested on campus from trees that were extremely old and posed danger to infrastructure and livestock, but we were able to replant in their place. The graduation pavilion which stands 12 feet high and is decorated with FTC colors (red, white, and green) was also dedicated by the guest speaker.
This year’s 77th graduation ceremony was unprecedented. The speaker, besides his moving testimonial and motivational speech, was also accompanied by a team of comedians who moved the crowds with their comics. Over 15 yearly meetings clerks and Friends leaders attended the ceremony. Francis Makete represented Friends Church in Kenya as Katrina and Shawn McConaughey represented Friends United Meeting. Also in attendance were heads of institutions within Kaimosi Friends Mission complex, local government leaders led by Dr. Patrick Saisi, Deputy Governor of Vihiga County, who was our guest speaker in last year’s commencement.
Procession to the graduation square was led by a brass band played by brilliantly colorful, white and green uniformed girls from Kaimosi Girls’ High School. Thanks to the Principal who granted them permission to grace this occasion. The awesome Junior Scouts from Kaimosi Junior School did what they have always done best. They hoist four flags of four nations, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda that are represented by students on the FTC campus. Together with Katrina and Shawn from the U.S., it was a little taste of the United Nations on the FTC campus.
The offering at this year’s commencement was dedicated toward the construction of students’ canteen on campus. Students are having to brave the Kaimosi rains and distance to walk to Cheptulu trading center to buy small personal effects. This facility will be a great relief for them. The guest speaker donated Ksh. 300,000 ($3,000) toward this course.
FUM-Africa Board Meeting: A week following graduation, students went on a five days recess to allow space to the FUM-Africa board meeting which took place on October 24-25. It was all expression of joy from yearly meeting clerks to be back to FTC, “Our own home ground,” as some were heard saying. Alfred Wasike, FTC bachelor of theology degree student and our communications director on campus shared with me saying, “It was hard for some of our leaders to hide their joy because they felt their resources are now coming back to support “our own institution instead of taking it elsewhere as we have done before.”
All men were hosted in the recently renovated White House as women were received in Splendour. Both of these buildings have now been fitted with warm showers in bathrooms and mosquito nets in rooms. Although most are bunk beds meant for students, there was enough headroom for our leaders.
ACTEA Council meeting: three days after graduation, I flew to Lubango, Angola where I attended the Association of Christian Theological Education in Africa council meeting, which took place on October 24-27. Nine countries were represented. These include Angola, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. The council welcomed Dr. David Tarus as ACTEA’s new director (replaced Dr. Emmanuel Chemengich who went to become bishop of Kitale Diocese of the Anglican Church of Kenya). Prof. Emiolo Nihinlola (Nigeria) was elected ACETA chair; Dr. Lazarus Phiri (Zambia), vice chair; and Prof. Mumo Kisau (Vice-chancellor, Scott Christian University, Kenya) was elected treasurer. ACTEA’s next council meeting will be held in Zambia.