UP forges agreement with United Congregational Church of Southern Africa

Posted on April 09, 2024

The University of Pretoria (UP) recently signed a partnership agreement with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA), further cementing the University’s Faculty of Theology and Religion’s commitment to fostering collaboration, understanding and shared goals in the realm of theological education and religious practice.

The UCCSA is a transnational, multicultural and multi-ethnic church denomination that is united across five countries in southern Africa: Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

“I would like to welcome the UCCSA as a partner of the Faculty of Theology and Religion and the University of Pretoria,” said UP Interim Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Themba Mosia during the signing of the memorandum of understanding at UP. “The partnership holds immense promise for advancing scholarship, promoting dialogue and addressing the complex challenges facing our communities in Southern Africa and the world at large. Through this partnership with UCCSA, we aim to further enhance our academic programmes, expand our research initiatives and deepen our community outreach efforts.”

Both parties agreed that the faculty’s formal academic programmes are to be compiled from common and church-specific components, based on the understanding that church-specific components have to be approved by UP’s faculty board and the Senate. It was also agreed that both parties will endeavour to compile most sections of the programmes from conjoint components. Church-specific components are to be arranged in consultation with the particular church board of lecturers.

Church programmes, which include continued church education, are not part of the formal academic programme of the faculty. The church will negotiate an agreement with UP to establish an institutional structure at the University, which takes care of the church’s own programme at its own cost. This can also support and complement the faculty programmes.

“As a newcomer to this partnership, we are keenly aware of the guidance and support that we will require as we embark on this journey,” noted UCCSA President Reverend Rupert Hambira. “We are heartened by the prospect of engaging with other member churches who have already forged collaborative relationships with the University. We hope the collaborative training of future ministers will enhance the collaboration of the churches of the Reformed family in Southern Africa, even extending to the possibility of future organic unity.”

Rev Hambira assured attendees that the UCCSA is fully committed to upholding the standards and responsibilities of this relationship, with the shared goal of advancing theological education and enriching the ministry landscape.

Prof Dirk Human, Deputy Dean of Research and Postgraduate Studies, expressed his gratitude to the attendees and everyone involved in making the agreement a success.

“This partnership means a lot to both parties and we hope to have prosperous and fruitful cooperation in the next century and more.” 

- Author Xolani Mathibela

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