- From Catechist Training Institute in 1952, to Theological Training Centre, Theological College, and finally to Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1992
- The physical and geographical movement of the institution from NYASOSO where it started in 1952, to KUMBA in 1988
- The first Cameroonian Principal of the Theological College Nyasoso was Rev Reuben Osih
- “At the 70th anniversary, we were celebrating the fact that despite all the challenges, PTS has grown to what it is today”, Rev Prof Mbengu (Dean of PTS Kumba)
- “The Presbyterian Theological Seminary today stands as the pinnacle of theological excellence”, Rev Prof Anyambot
Today is Friday, July 7, 2023. On June 4, 2023, the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, PTS, Kumba, celebrated its 70th anniversary (1952 – 2022), though it was actually supposed to hold last year. The celebration of the platinum jubilee of PTS was deliberately made low keyed by the authorities of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, PCC, and the institution, because of the ongoing Anglophone Crisis. It should be noted that the Moderator of the PCC, Rt Rev Fonki Samuel Forba, is the Chairman of the Administrative Council of PTS Kumba.
Meanwhile in reference to the 70th anniversary of PTS Kumba, the Dean of the institution, Rev Prof Mbengu David Njiawung, aptly put it while speaking at a recent ceremony in Douala to handover an award donated by PTS Kumba to Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle, that: “At the 70thanniversary we were celebrating the fact despite the challenges , PTS has grown to what it is today”. In fact the evolution of the institution which started with the training of catechists evolve to an institution for the training of pastors as it is today, was not an easy ride, as the institution went through a lot of challenges.
Even after evolving to become the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1992 after it was upgraded by the Synod of the PCC from a diploma awarding college into a degree awarding institution, the evolution and the challenges did not stop there, as some years later there was the introduction a Masters of Theology (MTh) programme at PTS Kumba. The evolution and the challenges also did not end there.
PTS Kumba Now Train Pastors From Other Denominations
Speaking at the aforementioned ceremony that held in Douala recently, the Dean of PTS Kumba, Rev Prof Mbengu David, reiterated that the institution which started in 1952 as a Catechist Training Institute, has over the years grown to become the Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He confirmed that later this year PTS Kumba will start offering a Ph. D programme. The Dean of PTS Kumba was also happy to point out that PTS Kumba has further evolved in another dimension , as the institution today does not only train pastors of the PCC, but also train pastors of other religious denominations like he Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC), ‘Eglise Evangelique du Cameroun’ (EEC), and Apostolic Church. Rev Pof Mbengu added that PTS Kumba is even becoming an international institution, disclosing that a student from Zambia graduated from the institution last year.
The Dean of PTS Kumba, Rev Prof Mbengu David, who on that blessed day was accompanied to Douala for the ceremony by the Vice Dean of the institution, Rev Dr Felix Kang Esoh, paid tribute to Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle whom he said was a friend of PTS Kumba. The Dean recalled among other things that Ntumfor Halle used to travel from his base in Douala to give lectures at PTS Kumba for free.
The Book By Rev Dr Bongajum Dora Lemnyuy
Thanks to the book, “70 Years Of Personnel Development At PTS Kumba written by Rev Dr Bongajum Dora Lemnyuy, THE MENTOR has an insight into the very challenging evolution over the years, that has transformed a religious institution which started as a Catechist Training Institute, to what is today the Presbyterian Theological Seminary that offers a Master Degree Programme, and will in the coming months launch a PhD programme. Worth noting Rev Dr Bongajum Dora Lemnyuy’s book, ’70 Years of Personnel Development At PTS Kumba’, that is rich with valuable information, was launched in Douala on February 24, 2023 at an occasion that was chaired by Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle, and marvelously emceed by Senior Journalist, Lawrence Kikishiy of CRTV Douala. The book was reviewed at the occasion by Rev Pastor Elangwe Namaya of PC Ikiwindi , who is also curently doing a PhD programme at the University of Buea.
It is interesting to note that Rev Dr Bongajum Dora Lemnyuy, obtained her Diploma and Bachelor’s Degree from the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, before later moving to the University of Buea where she obtained her Masters and after that a Ph. D. She served in a number of congregations of the PCC as pastor for quite a number of years, including the period she studied at UB. Rev Dr Bongajum Dora Lemnyuy has in the last few years ben a lecturer at PTS Kumba. Her story is thus that of a pastor and former student of PTS Kumba, who is back in the institution as a lecturer. One can thus understand her great interest in the institution.
At The Beginning There Was Catechist Training Institute Nyasoso
Chapter 2 of Rev Dr Bongajum Dora Lemnyuy’s book is titled, Evolution Of Training And Development Of The Presbyterian Theological Seminary, that runs from Page 38 – 92, THE MENTOR gathered that there was a Catechist Training Institute, CTI, in Bafut (in today’s Mezam Division, Northwest Region) in 1940s. But the Synod in 1950 decided to shut it down, and that was effectively done in 1951. The Catechist Training Institute (CTI) in Nyasoso in today’s Tombel Sub –division, Kupe Muanenguba Division, Southwest Region was opened in 1952.
In 1953, the Theological Training Centre, ThTC, was also created with its base at Nyasoso. So there were two institutes of the same Church operating on the same campus at Nyasoso. There was the Catechist Training Institute Nyasoso whose Principal was E. Trussel, and the Theological Training Centre whose Principal was H. Herzog.
Pastoral training started at the Catechist Training Institute, and graduates from CTI Nyasoso with two years practical experience I the field, could write the entrance examination into the Theological Training Centre, to graduate as pastors. Also, graduates from the Basel Mission College Bali Nyonga and the Teacher Training Institute could with their certificates, qualify to write the entrance examination into the Theological Training Centre Nyasoso.
Basel Mission Church In British Southern Cameroons
It should be noted that today’s Presbyterian Church in Cameroon only came into existence on November 13, 1957, when Basel Mission Church in the then British Southern Cameroons gained its independence. Before then the Basel Mission Church in Southern Cameroons was an affiliate of the Basel Mission in Switzerland, and so most of those running the Synod or the Church as well as the institutions for the training of catechists in the 40s and 50s, were Swiss nationals. It was the same thing for Theological Training Centre at Nyasoso.
From 1952 – 58 for example, Rev Pastor Aaron Su was the only trained Southern Cameroonian teaching staff at the Theological Training Centre in Nyasoso. The problem was that there was no institution in Southern Cameroons for the training of full pastors in the 40s and 50s. The very few full pastors of Southern Cameroons in the late 40s and 50s like Rev Pastor Aaron Su an Rev Pastor Jeremiah Chi Kangsen, were persons that in the 40s were sent to study Theology at the Trinity College in Kumasi, Ghana.
It was not until 1956 that two Southern Cameroonians, Pastor David Ayoungwa and Pastor Kwoge, were sent to Switzerland for further studies. Following the independence of the PCC in November 1957, Rev Aaron Shu in 1958 left the Theological Training Centre at Nyasoso to become the first Synod Clerk of the PCC. But as a consequence too, there was no Cameroonian among the teaching staff of the Theological Training Centre at Nyasoso from 1958 to 1962.
From Theological Training Institute to Theological College
In 1962, the Synod of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon upgraded the Theological Training Centre at Nyasoso to a Theological College. The training of pastors was extended from two to four years. But there was still the problem of the lack of trained Cameroonian pastors to teach in the institution. Rev JC Kangsen was the only Cameroonian teaching staff in Theological College from its creation in 1962 to 1966, with Rev PK Ewang and Rev HA Awasum joining him in the 66/67.
One problem too was that with PCC now independent, the Synod also needed trained Cameroonian pastors to handle the administration of the Church both at the level of the Synod and at the administrative structures of the Church in the field. So though some of the few pastors that were sent for training abroad had returned home, the Synod had other assignments for them. However as the yeas went on, the number of trained Cameroonian pastors of the PCC was also increasing.
Rev Reuben Osih – First Cameroonian Principal
Rev Ruben Osih was the first PCWC member who obtained a Bachelor of Divinity as Theological Degree from Edinburg in the United Kingdom in 1969. The PCC needed him back at home, and so he returned to Cameroon the same year he graduated. Upon his returned home, Rev Osih was that same 1969 appointed Principal of the Theological College Nyasoso.
Rev Osih’s appointment was of great significance to the PCC and especially to the Theological College Nyasoso, because that was the first time in the history of the institution which 1952 started as a Catechist Training Institute to the Theological Training Institute, and then to the Theological College in 1962, went under the qualified leadership of indigenous Cameroonians. Rev Osih was Principal of the Theological College Nyasoso from 1969 to 1973, with his successor at the post of Principal being Rev. Isaac Sakwe Elangwe.
Theological College Leaves Nyasoso For Kumba
In 1988, the Theological College that had very much popularized the name of Nyasoso, was transferred from Nyasoso to Kumba, still with Rev Elangwe as Principal. The reason why the Synod of the PCC decided to move the Theological College from Nyasoso to Kumba in 1988 is not clear. Whatever the case,, following the movement the name of the institution was changed from Theological College Nyasoso to Theological College Kumba.
From Theological College To Presbyterian Theological Seminary
In 1992, that is 14 years after the Theological College was installed in Kumba , the Synod Committee took a decision to upgrade the institution into a degree awarding institution. Entry qualification of students was thus raised from a pass in GCE O/L to a pass in GCE A/L. The Bachelor Degree progrmme had duration of three years, like in State universities in the country. The name of the institution was changed from Theological College to Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
But the degree awarding progamme could not take off immediately start due to a number of unforeseen problems. Suffice to say that the Bachelor of Theology programme was finally launched in the 1994/95 school year. It should be noted that the diploma programme did not immediately stop at the institution with the coming of the degree programme. The diploma programme only ended in the year 2000.
Masters Of Theology Programme
Meanwhile some years later the Presbyterian Theological Seminary was once more upgraded , this time around with the introduction of Masters of Theology (M Th) programme. The programme effectively went operational in 2016. It was known as Masters of Art in Christian (Church) Leadership, MACL.
With the creation of the Cameroon Christian University, CCU, in Bali (CPC Campus), Mezam Division in the Northwest Region by the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, the Presbyterian Theological Seminary Kumba, was to be considered as the School of Theology of CCU. Unfortunately the escalation of the Anglophone Crisis led to the closure of the Cameroon Christian University was shutdown. The institution remains closed till date.
PhD Programme Expected Take Off Later This Year
Meanwhile the engine of the evolution of Presbyterian Theological Seminary is still very much on, as the administration of the institution, with the support of the Synod of the PCC, has in the last few years been working hard to further upgrade the PTS Knumba to hit the ceiling, with the introduction of a PhD programme before the end of 2023, that is at the beginning of post 70th anniversary or platinum jubilee.
A great mind in the PCC, Rev Prof Anyambot Emmanuel Anya, in the Foreword of Rev Dr Bongajum Dora Lemnyuy’ book, 70 Years of Personnel Development At PTS Kumba, greatly appreciates the efforts of the PCC in the evolution of PTS Kumba, and gives an advice as the institution prepares to launch the PhD Programme. An except of the foreword written by Rev Prof Ayambot reads: “From the inception of the Catechist Training Institute , through the Theological College to the Presbyterian Theological Seminary , and from physical and geographical movement from Nyasoso to Kumba,, one sees the determination of the Presbyterian Church to better equip the clergy for the ministry. The Presbyterian Theological Seminary today stands as a pinnacle of theological excellence”.
However Rev Prof Anyambot who recalled that he was the Pioneer Director of Academic Affairs at PTS Kumba charged then with the responsibility of transforming the curriculum from Diploma awarding curriculum to a Bachelor Degree awarding curriculum, advised that: “I wish to state that the decision to be a Doctor of Philosophy awarding institution be matched with a well – worked out curriculum which is dynamic and responding to the present -day realities of national and international repute. Such a curriculum should be executed by lecturers of national and international recognition and repute”.
The Goal Of PTS Kumba
Meanwhile as regard the Goals of Presbyterian Theological Seminary Kumba, Rev Dr Bongajum Dora Lemnyuy, in her book, 70 Years Of Personnel Development At PTS Kumba, quotes Dr Zimmermann (200 2:22) that PTS has as its goal to give to students on pastoral training “a solid knowledge of the biblical history and message to open their eyes for the special needs of their people and their country, to equip them to deal with the current trends of their days and to show the way to a sound proclamation of the gospel a joyful service to the Christian Community”.
However Rev Dr Bongajum Dora Lemnyuy, states that following the revision of the curriculum of PTS Kumba, and the upgrading of the institution to a PhD award institution, the goals of the PTS Kumba have changed. “The 2020 revision of the curriculum has as its goals three broad arrears of interest. They are Spiritual Formation, Theological Training and Transformational Development”, she explained.
By Joe Dinga Pefok (Uncle Joe)
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