By Sarah Bollinger
March 6, 2014 marks the official grand opening of The Gondola Training Center (GTC) in Mozambique! The GTC is an educational training center strategically positioned in the North of Mozambique, in an area that experiences extreme poverty and an absence of schools and universities. The GTC is a United Methodist educational center designed to train pastors and lay leaders about development, microfinance, and sustainability in their communities, as well as provide theological training and leadership development opportunities. As a priority project of Bishop Nhanala and the United Methodist Conferences of Mozambique, there has been great emphasis on working to open this center over the years. Several volunteer in mission teams helped with the construction of the GTC and we are very excited that the GTC will officially open its doors and begin to host students! It is with great excitement that we all prepare for this momentous occasion.
As part of the opening ceremonies, the Missouri Conference will be sending Sarah Bollinger, the Associate Director of the Mozambique Initiative, to attend this event along with two Missouri United Methodist Pastors, Rev. Kimberly Jenne and Rev. Jennifer Klein. These two pastors will be teaching short workshops during their time there and will also be visiting their partner churches in Mozambique. Rev. Jenne is the pastor at Webster Hills UMC in Webster, Missouri, and their partner church in Mozambique is Matola UMC. Rev. Klein is the pastor at Country Club UMC in Kansas City. Their partner church in Mozambique is Barrane UMC.
The Mozambique Initiative (MI) envisions this trip as one that will lay the foundations for a future of educational exchange, which will play a critical role in realizing the MI’s mission and vision of transforming hearts and minds through education. The hope is that there will be many more experiences such as this in the future where teachers from both Missouri and Mozambique will be able to learn alongside one another.
During this pilot exchange, Rev. Jenne will be teaching a course entitled “Thinking Theologically”. The aim of this course is to help prepare thoughtful and discerning leaders for ministry. This course, designed for lay or ordained ministers, intends to build upon students’ existing skills and wisdom and assist in developing additional critical practices for understanding theology and for contributing to theological understanding in others. The course is designed to strengthen capacities for thinking and knowing with particular emphasis on a Wesleyan approach to theological thinking. “The shared learning and cultural exchange that happens inside any classroom is always exciting to me,” said Rev. Kim Jenne.
Rev. Klein will be teaching a course about identifying personal prayer types and using Christ as a model for spiritual formation. During her time there, she will be helping students to identify the ways in which they personally identify with God through prayer. As a part of this curriculum, she is also developing a cross-cultural assessment tool that measures an individual’s spirituality and prayer type. Rev. Klein will teach the students about the discipline of prayer, and how each of us has unique styles of prayer and ways of connecting with God.
Please be in prayer for this special time and for the future of the Gondola Training Center. If you are interested in sponsoring a student at the GTC or becoming more involved in the upcoming educational opportunities there, please reach out to Sarah Bollinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.