MB educators hope to draw churches, schools closerBy Karla Braun Mennonite Brethren Herald
WINNIPEG, Man. — A constant hum of voices — simultaneous interpretation in Spanish and French, and explanatory words in Portuguese, German and Russian — animated sessions at the International Community of Mennonite Brethren’s Higher Education Consultation.
Participants from 30 Mennonite institutions in 17 countries gathered to discuss “Church and School: Compañeros (co-laborers) in Growing People of God” June 13-17.
In a session on “Compañeros in growing a people of faith in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition,” Congolese educator Pascal Kulungu shared his vision for holistic peace witness in his country.
Kulungu recalled a visit to Fresno, Calif., when he “saw writing on the wall” that said “Center for Peace and Conflict Studies.”
“The church started to plant those seeds [of peacebuilding] in me,” he said.
The self-described “product of missionary work in Congo” completed a master’s degree in leadership and peacebuilding and founded the Centre for Peacebuilding, Leadership and Good Governance in 2002.
Kulungu is also an administrator of finance for Christian University of Kinshasa.
Through his center, Kulungu attempts to teach people that “they have to serve the church instead of be served” in a society where “heritage of power means entitlement… . Peacemaking too often gets isolated” from leadership training.
Kulungu plans to run for office in November elections because “when you live in the country things are not running well, you have to change your lens,” he said.
Consultation participants affirmed the pursuit of dialogue and greater connection between church and school.
However, Jim Pankratz, dean at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont., said “the language is still dichotomous of church and school.”
Schools that provide theological education are an arm of the church, said Canadian Mennonite University President Gerald Gerbrandt. He called for the church to support and collaborate with schools by sending students, funding, praying and providing a home for students.
Participants noted that in the past the Fresno seminary was the training hub of the MB world. This event showed that MB theological education now happens around the globe.
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