Carlile College: programmes that “propel the mission of the Church”

Carlile College, Nairobi was established in 1958 by Church Army Africa. Its name is explained by the fact that Church Army was launched by Wilson Carlile in the late 19th Century “to train ordinary Christian men and women to share the gospel with those most in need.”* Following on from last month’s blog post, Benjamin Kibara interviews the Principal, Revd Capt Patience Wanzala.

For our readers, can you give some further background to Carlile College?

Carlile College is a unique institution offering academic programmes with a focus on mission, evangelism, discipleship and church planting. Our vision and mission is to train men and women who will offer solutions to the church in Africa.

How has that mission focus shaped the college’s programmes?

The college has helped the Church in Africa remain focused on mission by developing and offering programmes in Chaplaincy and Children’s Ministry, among others that propel the mission of the Church.

What developments would you like to see at the college over the next few years?

The development we anticipate at the college is to upgrade our physical infrastructure to give it a new face so that we are able to attract more students to our programmes.

How do you view your vision for Carlile in relation to the changes that might lie ahead for more traditional forms of theological education?

Our vision will not change even as are faced with new ways of doing theology: moving from residential to non-residential, physical to online. Last year we had to change to online studies and though our students and staff struggled a bit we managed. Therefore I believe change is possible with some preparation through training and orientation.

Can you comment on how we can we best achieve academic rigour and personal transformation through training?

Theological Education aims at academic formation, ministry formation and spiritual and character formation. These can be best achieved by ensuring that they are reflected in the curriculum, have faculty who understand that as their mandate and create time for implementation, partner with local churches and communities to provide space for student mentorship.

These are difficult choices, but how can we also take cost-effectiveness and sustainability into account?

The sustainability of theological programmes depends on ownership by all the stakeholders such as students, staff, church, community and partners who together support the running of the programmes in various ways [such as] funding, sending students, teaching quality, among others.

What might all this mean for modes of delivery, which you’ve begun to touch on?

That we need to adopt to friendly modes of delivery such as distance learning [and] online studies among others to give room to those [who are] working, [so they can] study at the time of their convenience.

Finally, in the light of what you know about BUILD, with its non-traditional approach and model of multiplication, how do you see it serving within theological education?

BUILD is a good programme that has its place in building the capacity of the leadership of the church. There is no programme that has monopoly of importance; therefore BUILD comes in to reinforce what other programmes are offering to the church.

Many thanks for sharing with us Patience. BUILD is proud of its own focus on mission and evangelism, as well as its intention to act as ‘yeast in the dough’ for theological education: connecting it together and contributing to the whole. That desire is certainly in keeping with your closing comment.

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