Sureste Presbyterian Theological Seminary - February 2016 Update
In mid-February Antioch Partners missionary Don Wehmeyer and I traveled to Villahermosa to visit with students, faculty, staff and administration at the Seminario Teologico Presbiteriano del Sureste. Although the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico has broken formal relations with the PC(USA), The Outreach Foundation is still deeply engaged with Mexican partners.
The purpose of the trip was to reestablish Outreach’s relationship with the seminary following the recent death of Ed Jennings, an elder from the White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh who for many years served as the liaison between Outreach and Sureste. We heard deep appreciation for Ed’s faith and faithfulness. His commitment and hard work provide a good foundation for our ongoing partnership with the seminary.
Don and I sat in on two classes, and we were impressed by the professors and students. The campus was in good shape, and the community life seemed vital and healthy. Our key meetings were a combined meeting of the seminary administrators and Synod of Tabasco Administrative Board, and a meeting with the seminary’s Council. We were encouraged by the commitment of Pastor Jose Juan Hernandez Garcia, Rector of the seminary, and Pastor Juan Marcos Perez Alonso, President of the Synod of Tabasco.
There are currently six presbyteries in the synod. In June one of them will divide into three parts, resulting in eight presbyteries. There are 168 churches (churches must have at least 60 members), not counting congregations (at least 30 members) and missions. The synod currently has 360 pastors. The synod supports the work of the seminary, and presbyteries help by sending money or food.
The school’s impact is reflected in the 350 graduates of Sureste who are now serving the church as pastors. With the Presbyterian Church in Mexico’s church planting activities and growth, more pastors are needed. We learned that the seminary could enroll more students. Obstacles to increasing the number of students include some infrastructure issues, which Outreach is helping them to address, and the fact that the students from Chiapas have a hard time paying. One thing we love about the school is its commitment to educating students from indigenous groups in Chiapas. There are presently 20 students from Chiapas. The seminary used to offer these students a 50% scholarship, but after losing a major donor, the school can now only offer 35% of the costs.
To serve the needs of the church, the seminary offers several degree programs. The Bachelor’s in Theology (four years) is the basic program for pastoral education and ordination. The Bachelor’s in Music (three years) is designed to take someone with no musical knowledge and prepare them for music ministry in the church. The Master’s in Theology is a three year program in cooperation with Miami International Theological Seminary, and a separate Master’s in New Testament degree program supplements learning for those who have completed the B.Th. Student enrollment for this academic year is B.Th. (54); B.Mus. (10); M.Th. (50); M.NT. (12).
The seminary is also starting a brand new program called “The Seminary in Your Church” which offers seminary classes in local churches to encourage the local leaders. This program is not meant to replace the B.Th. program but to help congregations strengthen their leadership. Churches that host the program pay for the materials and the professor costs.
With the regular annual cost for a student at about $2,100 (USD) per year, gifts of any size toward a scholarship are welcomed.
The Outreach Foundation invites you to make a gift in support of a scholarship and to help Sureste train this wonderful group of men and women for service in a growing, mission-minded church.
Amount needed in 2016
The Outreach Foundation seeks to raise at least $25,000 for seminary general support and scholarships.To make a donation, click the Donate Now link in the sidebar.
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