[ACNS] A theological college established by the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa has reached a double milestone: its tenth anniversary has coincided with its first award of Master of Arts (MA) level degrees.
The Alexandria School of Theology was established by Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis to equip men and women to serve the diocese. Before it began its ministry, the diocese had to send its ordinands to other denominations’ seminaries or to Anglican seminaries overseas, “both of which are costly and do not include a Middle Eastern Anglican expression,” the college says.
Alexandria has a long tradition of Christian education: the Apostle Mark is said to have opened the world’s first Christian school in the city – the Catechetical School – to teach the Christian faith to inquirers, believers and new converts.
In 2002, Bishop Anis convened a consultation in Oxford, England, of bishops from around the Anglican Communion to discuss his proposal for a new theological college. Participants included the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams, together with the Most Revd Iraj Mottahedeh (Iran), the Most Revd Alexander Malik (Pakistan), the Most Revd Dr Yong Ping Chung (Singapore), the Rt Revd Robert Duncan (USA), the Rt Revd Josian Fearon (Nigeria) and the retired assistant Bishop of Jerusalem, the Rt Revd Dr Kenneth Cragg.
A series of consultations, task force, action plans and commissions later, the diocesan synod gave its final approval and the Alexandria School of Theology opened in 2005, led by the Revd Emad Mikhail Azmy, a minister of the Presbyterian Church in America who was living and ministering in Alexandria at the time. As well as its base in Alexandria, the college's St Athanasius Campus has a branch in Cairo; and the college now has two overseas campuses: The Saint Cyprian Campus in Tunis, Tunisia; and the Saint Frumentius Campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“We wish to emulate the best of what the early Catechetical School represented,” the college says on its website. “Although almost two millennia have passed and times have changed, our Lord’s great commission to disciple the nations remains unchanged. It is our prayer that the college will be an instrument in the hand of God to spread the Gospel in the Anglican Communion and beyond.”
Last weekend four students graduated with a Masters of Arts in Theology. The degree ceremony also saw 27 students receive a Bachelor’s degree in theology and another who received a diploma.
In an address to the students, the Dean of the college, the Revd Atif Mehany, urged the students to overcome the challenges following the Arab Spring and fulfil their responsibilities to serve both church and society.