Theological News Jul 2002 Vol 31 No 3


Editor: Dr. David Parker

Excerpts from this issue


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On the Spot Report: Theological Training at Manipur, India

In August 2001 Rev. Malcolm Eberhard, a Baptist pastor from Mareeba in far north Queensland, Australia, travelled to Churachandpur, in the Indian state of Manipur, as the first non-Indian to lecture at Grace Bible College. Founded in 1981, Grace Bible College is the co-educational training institute for the Evangelical Baptist Convention (EBC). It is affiliated with the Asia Theological Association and offers degrees up to Master of Divinity (M.Div.) level.

At present it has over 140 regular full-time students plus 150 external students. Whilst associated with the EBC, its student body comes from over 35 different denominational groups and from all the north-eastern states of India as well as Nepal and Myanmar. Because of ethnic violence, which flared in 1977, and the presence of insurgent groups operating in the state (and in other north-eastern Indian states), the area is restricted. Foreigners need a protected area permit to be able to enter Manipur.

In the gracious providence of God, Malcolm was able to enter and teach a two-week intensive course on Reformation Church History. Whilst all teaching in the College is in English, Malcolm was apprehensive about whether his Australian accent would be understood and about his ability to communicate adequately in a culture quite different to his own.

He was blessed by the gracious hospitality of the people of Churachandpur and their overwhelming generosity. The College is rich in the quality and commitment of the board, staff and students, but poor in resources. In comparison with the libraries in Bible and Theological Colleges in Australia and even many pastor's own libraries, the GBC library is poorly resourced. In the Church History section, for example, there were almost none of the standard or modern texts. The College is of course acutely aware of this and the board is seeking partnerships to help finance the upgrading of the library as well as the College facilities generally. Also in comparison with colleges in Australia, the conditions at GBC are very basic. An example is that whilst Malcolm was at the College the very first computer was installed.

Some of the staff and adjunct lecturers have had theological training in the USA and Korea, with the others being trained in various colleges in India. They are certainly zealous and dedicated teachers. Over 90% of the graduates are actively involved in ministry as missionaries, evangelists, teachers, pastors and administrators. The EBC has three mission/outreach areas: in Manipur itself, as well as in Assam and Nepal. It appears that the Church and College are still grappling with the need for contextualization and the issues of theology and mission in the post-Western missions situation in north-eastern India. They also recognize the need for greater help in equipping missionaries and outreach workers for cross-cultural ministry and church planting. The form of church government, ministry and worship has understandably been inherited from their missionary past. The influence of television is being felt and the students are looking at the challenge of making the gospel presentation relevant to a nominal Christian population in parts of Manipur as well as in cross-cultural mission work.

Rev. Eberhard has been invited to return to teach at GBC again in 2002 and would be delighted to hear from any who would like to share in this "partnership in the gospel" with Grace Bible College. He can be contacted at or P.O. Box 1730, Mareeba, Queensland 4880, Australia.

Focus on Formation and Vocation in Latin America

"Formation vs. Vocation: Projects, Suggestions and Accreditation" was the primary concern of the ninety two theological educators who met at Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 29 Oct. 1 Nov 2001. They represented more than fifty Bible Schools and Seminaries from seven countries who are members of the Latin America Evangelical Accrediting Association (AETAL) meeting for their fourth General Assembly and Conference.

Most of the time of this Assembly was allocated to study new strategies and structures for the development and continuity of the Association. This reinforced the necessity of greater participation of all the member schools in order to reach AETAL's goals. This meeting was more effective than ones in the past due to broader participation and representativeness.

The sessions of the Conference dealt with how to improve the excellence of the theological education offered by the member schools which is aimed at training and preparing servants who are able to minister in a time of many challenges and changes. Workshops were conducted on academic administration (David Suazo-SETECA/Guatemala); the quality of Theological Education (Dr. Robert Kasper-SETECA/Guatemala); the "Pratical Docent" (Dr. Cássio Miranda-Brazil), and library organization and Information Technology (Sidney M. da Silva-FTBSP/Brasil).

Because many countries are now facing the possibility of government accreditation, the panel discussion on this subject was of particular importance. Advantages and disadvantages were presented by several guests with broad experience in the area. The necessity and reality of accreditation is a theme that needs to be continually worked on within the evangelical theological schools.

A new Board of AETAL for the next three year period (2001-2004) was elected and installed. The General Secretary, Vera Brock (M.Ed.) (, and the Coordinator of the Accrediting Commission, Johannes Bergmann (Th.M), ( were confirmed. For further information, contact AETALcn-Evangelical Association for Theological Education in Latin America, Rua Vergueiro 3051, Vila Mariana, 04101-300-São Paulo/SP - Brazil Fax: (55-11) 5049-4099-

Former WEA TC Director in New Ministry

The former Executive Director of the WEA Theological Commission, Dr. James Stamoolis has been appointed by The Seed Company Board to be its President and CEO. He assumed his new role on February 12, 2002. The Seed Company, based in Santa Ana, California is dedicated to "partnering with nationals to plant the seed of God's Word." It seeks to "Translate the Scriptures into the heart language of people groups still without God's Word, by engaging the prayer support, mission alliances, consultants, and resources needed to enable national translators to complete Bible translation projects." A spokesman for the organisation said, "We are grateful to God for his strong guidance during this search process and look forward with anticipation to what God will accomplish under Jim's leadership." Dr. Stamoolis was previously Dean of the Graduate School of Wheaton College and Associate Professor of Missions and Intercultural Studies.

Reports of Conferences and Documents welcome.