After nearly three decades of training church leaders in Ethiopia, Meserete Kristos Seminary is expanding its programs to the global community.
Meserete Kristos Seminary (MKS) in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, awarded 101 diplomas during a graduation ceremony May 20. Founded 29 years ago, the seminary has equipped 2,273 men and women as agents of holistic transformation for the church and society. Seven graduates earned a Master of Arts in theology and global Anabaptism (MATGA), which is offered through a partnership with Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), Mennonite Mission Network and Mennonite World Conference that began in 2019.
During the ceremonies, Desalegn Abebe, president of the Meserete Kristos Church, highlighted the continuous growth of the church and the increasing need for trained leaders. He encouraged the graduates to embrace challenges, develop critical skills, and advocate for equity, equality and justice in a world that often experiences division. This is accomplished through risk-taking, broadening one's horizons and an open-minded and tolerant attitude toward others, he said.
"A crucial challenge of education is to transform skills and intelligence into wisdom," said Abebe. "We are confronted with making choices in our daily lives. We have the ability to make both good and bad decisions. However, it's important to note that, sometimes, it's not the decision itself that hurts but rather the way in which we make decisions."
Abebe also expressed gratitude toward MKS's partners and emphasized their commitment to further enhance the seminary as an educational institution.
Beverly Lapp, vice president and academic dean, and Daniel B. Grimes, former vice president for enrollment and advancement, represented AMBS at the MKS graduation. Lapp, the keynote speaker, encouraged the graduates to continue learning.
"God delights in your learning," Lapp said. "Never stop learning from God's word, from the people God puts in front of you and from each experience you are blessed to have. May your true evangelical faith manifest itself in all righteousness and in works of love, and may unity in Christ be your greatest joy and source of peace."
Gishu Jebecha Ebissa, MKS principal, congratulated the graduates and expressed excitement about their upcoming ministry. He highlighted the seminary's new bachelor's and master's programs, including MATGA and a Master of Arts in practical theology, taught in Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia, to promote inclusivity and accessibility.
MKS is expanding its training to international students. Among this year's graduates were two students from Kenya. The seminary has also had students from Djibouti, Eritrea and South Sudan.
Ebissa extended an invitation to students and teachers "from anywhere in the world."
"We have great facilities and student dormitories. If you are looking for a place to get away for your sabbatical leave and co-teach for a semester, [MKS] welcomes you. Reach out to us," Ebissa said.
To strengthen the relationship of the fastest-growing Anabaptist church in Ethiopia with sisters and brothers in the Global North, Abebe, and Ebissa will embark on a fraternal visit to North America, June 1-July 31. They aim to gain more exposure and a broader understanding of the Mennonite community, while engaging with brothers and sisters in Canada and the United States.