Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Global Connections

Greetings again from the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo. We are about half way through our spring term. Five second year students are busily writing their dissertations with the expectation they will be awarded their masters' degrees at graduation in late May. Dr. Taylor from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Ohio is presenting his course on "Early Christian Piety" and delivered a paper on Paul's understanding of a new Mediterranean family this past Tuesday at our Scholar's Seminar. In this blog I want to share with you some other news about our global connections.

ETSC receives visiting professors and students from outside the Middle East and is grateful for this interaction. We are also supported by seminaries and churches in the United States who accept scholars from here to study in their institutions and provide them with scholarships for this study abroad. Two professors here will go to the U.S. next fall. The first of these, pictured to the right is professor Samy Hana, who had been awarded a five year scholarship to pursue his doctoral degree at Princeton Theological Seminary. He and his family (wife and two children) will live abroad as he studies in the field of Christian Education.

Samy had completed his master's degree at Princeton last year and returned to teach here in the 2008-2009 school year. One of our long time professors in that field, Dr. Mufeed, will be retiring in about five years and Samy will return to serve ETSC in the field of Christian Education. Samy is also a medical doctor and teaches courses in pastoral care in the cirriculum of the seminary. (If you want to view Dr. Mufeed's profile, you can go to the ETSC web site - The Egyptian government has been reviewing the credentials of the teaching faculty of the seminary, and this will help to strengthen its qualifications for the future.

Two of our graduate students completing their dissertations this spring, Rania Nabil and Wagdy Wahba, (profiled in an earlier blog), have also been accepted for a one semester study program at Princeton next fall. This is intended to facilitate their personal growth and also to provide the opportunity to an interaction of Egyptians with an academic community in the United States. A generous benefactor in the United States has made this possible. Both students are well qualified academically and in their ability to communicate in English. One of the reasons the ETSC graduate school program is conducted in the English language is to allow for such exchanges.
Our second professor to be awarded a scholarship to study in the United States is Professor Sherif Salah, also a medical doctor, who serves on the seminary faculty in the field of pastoral care and counselling. He has been accepted in the Th.M. program at the Pittsburgh Seminary of Missions. In its statement of mission, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary states that it "recognizes the global nature of the Christian church and seeks to play a role of educating leaders for churches around the world". Scholarships and financial aid grants are awarded through the resources of th World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.
What is interesting to me is that the churches throughout the world, all of which are feeling the impact of the financial downturn, continue to support these internationalprograms which will pay dividends to people in places outside the United States.
This commitment is also true for our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, for although there will need to be cut backs in funds for global missions, these will not be done in a disproportionate way in relation to the rest of the budget. The wholeness and the globalness (is this a word?) of the church is still of great importance to us.
May your journey in this Lenten season bring you closer to our Lord, and to those who share this journey with you.
In Christ, Roger R.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Welcoming a U.S. professor

Greetings again as we are moving through the season of Lent. We have been joined here at the seminary by Dr. Walter Taylor, who has taught New Testament students at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio for many years. He is pictured to the right with four of the five students in his class on "Early Christian Piety". His course complements the course of our Dutch scholar, Willem deWit in Advanced Greek, and the one I am teaching in Christianity from its beginnings to the coming of Islam. He will be with us until the middle of May, and will be joined by his wife and one of their daughters for some touring in Egypt during the Easter break.

This exchange of professors from the U.S. is being encouraged so that intercultural contracts can add to the broadening of our horizons in this global age. If you or someone you know would like to be considered for this type of teaching experience in the future, you can contact our regional representative who now lives in Cairo with his family ( If you know of someone who would be interested in pursuing the position of Director of Graduate Studies at ETSC, our Global Mission Division Division is still looking for my replacement. I made it clear when I came for this second year that I would not continue after June of 2009. This is an opportunity for a church historian or scholar in Muslim-Christian relations to teach, administer the graduate program of about 12 students, and experience the rich cultural and intellectual environment in the Middle East.

The second picture is of the library staff here at ETSC. They are a dedicated group which supervises the extensive collection of books in Arabic and in English, which has been built up in the more than 150 years the seminary has been in existence. A modest budget allows us to add to the resources for the students and faculty each year, and we also subscribe to an international web service called ATLA, which allows for the review of current journal articles and books. The seminary uses this service because it is a better way to keep current than incurring the expenses of a large number of journals and periodicals subscriptions.

The woman next to Dr. Taylor has invited me to the house of her family before, and plans to have us visit some Sunday when we can participate in her husband's church service.
Our second year students were also able to get books brought with visiting groups from the United States and the seminary does all it can to equip its students with books and other resources while they are studying here, and as they go forth to serve in the many parish opportunities throughout Egypt and other lands of the Middle East. If you have questions or comments about this you can write me, including of ways that you might support the seminary and its students beyond what the ELCA is presenting doing.

Yours in Christ, Roger Rogahn