‘Scarcity of Christ-centered Leadership in Many African Churches’

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Immediate past President of LBTS Dr. Aaron G. Marshall (right), performs the installation of Rev. Dr. Massaquoi (left) into office

The Dean of the John G. Innis Graduate School of Theology of the United Methodist University, Dr. Jerry Kulah, may have hit the nail on the head when he drew a connection between lack of financial capacity to adequately support theological education in Liberia and the gravitation toward a superficial state of affairs in the Liberian ecumenical community.

According to him, the lack of finance and failure on the part of many African bishops and pastors to write books in the context of Africa as situations confronting and hindering Liberian churches and Africa at large, causes a setback in the quality of education that should come out of African seminaries. He added that this ultimately results in a scarcity of Christ-centered leadership in the propagation of the Gospel in many African churches.

In his keynote address during the installation of the eighth President of the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary recently, Dr. Kulah said: “The scarcity of financial resources to support theological education in Liberia is a major challenge that Churches face.”

“Our continued dependence upon textbooks from overseas written by non-Africans to train African pastors for service in the African context is a serious challenge,” he added.

“While we continue to appreciate the contributions of our partners from overseas, we acknowledge that many of the textbooks from overseas are often void of pertinent issues being faced by African churches. It is, therefore, our challenge to engage the intellectual exercise to writing textbooks for our seminaries that are culturally relevant and contextually appropriate.”

According to him, the scarcity of quality Christ-centered leadership in many African churches, denominations and other ecclesial institutions has caused the gospel to go backward.

“The spiritually unhealthy gravitation toward the pursuits of powers, titles, and positions by so-called church leaders at the expense of pursuing quality theological training for ministry is a serious challenge facing the Liberian church today,” Dr. Kulah stressed.

“This was not the experience in Liberia about three decades ago,” Dr. Kulah recalled. “Evangelism, missions, and church planting were the passion and top priorities of many church leaders but, today, some are bearing the title, ‘bishop’ when they are presiding over a single local church, with little or no knowledge of Episcopal governance, while some are bearing the title, ‘Rev. Dr.’, when they have not written a bachelor’s thesis in theology; neither have they contributed significantly to the ministries of the church to warrant the conferral of such a distinguished title upon them.

“That is why the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and students of this Seminary, acting on behalf of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Education Convention, have deemed it expedient and right at this crucial moment in its history, to entrust the baton of leadership to Dr. Massaquoi, to lead this noble institution toward contributing to the eradication of these challenges.”

Dr. Kulah told the newly inducted president of the LBTS to remember the visionary that gave birth to the institution in 1976 when President William R. Tolbert realized that the country needed a seminary to train pastors who will qualify to pastor congregations.

He urged Rev. Massaquoi to lead with a humble and committed spirit that will help him leave legacies for others to build on for the improvement of the seminary.

The newly installed President, Reverend Momolu Massaquoi, also disclosed in his inaugural address that it is on his agenda to introduce a Master’s program at the seminary having offered Bachelor degrees for years.

Rev. Massaquoi said with the core value of LBTS, his administration will train students to balance academic excellence with spiritual development so that clear and pure hearts will inform the intents of their minds.

As Massaquoi takes the helm of the LBTS for the next five years, he has ample time to create the environment for introduction of a Graduate Program, as he promised to maintain quality academic standard which, he says, will help the institution get external validation from an academic body to introduce the intended program.

Rev. Massaquoi said Liberia’s problem is the failure of educational institutions to teach students how to organize and use knowledge after acquiring it, but LBTS’s intent is to help students to understand the real meaning of the word “educate.”

He said educated people have developed the faculties of their minds so that they may acquire anything they want without violating the rights of others, adding that his administration has a plan to create critical thinking as a core subject for all students.

Rev. Massaquoi thanked the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Education Convention, headed by Rev. Olu Q. Menjay, the board of trustees and the immediate past President, Dr. Aaron G. Marshall, for affording him the opportunity to serve, promising that he would take the institution to another level.

Author

  • Hannah N. Geterminah is a 2016 graduate of the Peter Quaqua School of Journalism with diploma and series of certificates in journalism from other institutions. She has lots of knowledge/ experience in human interest, political, Health, women and children stories. Hannah has worked with the Daily Observers Newspaper and the Liberian media for the past years and has broken many stories. Contact reporter; [email protected] WhatsApp;0770214920

2 COMMENTS

  1. It is perhaps this scarcity of quality Christ-centered leadership in many African churches, denominations and other ecclesial institutions that has resulted in the teachings of the gospel to go backward, due to the financial benefits and social mobility afforded to ‘one stop shop clergy’ in Africa where there is a growing spiritually unhealthy gravitation toward the pursuits of powers, titles, and positions by so-called church leaders at the expense of pursuing quality theological training for ministries. It is no wonder then that outsiders still look dubiously at the so-called qualifications of African clergy when there are stories abound about how easy they are attained through corruption and the system of it is not what you know but who you know. The fact that there still continues to be a dependency upon textbooks from overseas written by non-Africans to train African pastors for service in the African context has gravitated to more than just a serious challenge. This lack of quality academic literature within Africa and from African clergy merely highlights a level of poverty mindset, a mindset that is still ingrained within those individuals who seek a oneupmanship through being a member of the African clergy exercising a need for power and possibly greed, instead of excellent theological writings with an African context. Perhaps there is the belief that there is not much financial reward in research that is focussed upon the African experience and the church. There is a plethora of experts, gurus and the like across Asia and South America who are engaging with local, national and international visitors. Visitors who are seeking spiritual development across all cultural teachings. There is a vast array of written work in this area, yet African clergy; as a whole, remain unable to engage fully in this where they are bridging cultural/tribal traditions, cultural/tribal heritage, cultural/tribal history with the church. In the main, Africa is lagging behind in this regard. We are in the age of academic self publishing, blogs and connectivity forums so why is there still no pre Christ AND Christ centred leadership literature coming out from African clergy. What is the fear that stops really gifted, properly educated African researchers and theologians with bona fide academic qualifications to instigate, develop and maintain a quality academic standard which will help the church institutions within Africa gain an exemplary validation from a well known academic body or sponsor? Africa is missing a trick here and seems to be content in continually being led by outsiders, instead of forging the way ahead to the benefit of its own people and rebranding itself as bona fide academic peoples.

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