Graduating GWC’s first Master’s students

by Dr Nathan Lovell, Director of Postgraduate Studies

In November 2019, GWC graduated three students from our Master’s in Theology course. This was a notable occasion because, although we’ve had Master’s students in our Evangelical Research Fellowship for a while, they’ve always been enrolled in other universities. But the graduating year of 2019 was different—for the first time, we celebrated the success of our students in our own MTh programmes. And we praised God for them.

Postgraduate studies at GWC have grown considerably in the last decade. Back in 2011, in my first year on faculty, we had only recently been accredited to offer our own undergraduate BTh programme. While we already had a postgraduate department, we only started offering our own Honours degree in 2016 and our Master’s in 2018. This was all part of a long-term strategy to position GWC to provide intellectual and theological leadership within REACH and for the broader African church. Developing creative, new, and trustworthy resources to meet the needs of the growing African church requires people to have skills in research and critical thinking. So does training the next generation of preachers and teachers. These are exactly the skills that postgraduate studies aim to provide.

There have been many challenges along the way. Developing the capacity to supervise research at postgraduate level hasn’t been easy. From having two PhDs on faculty in 2011, neither of whom remains, we now have six full-time faculty with doctorates and three others who work closely alongside the college. This growth has, primarily, been the result of an intentional plan to develop our existing faculty. We now have the expertise to supervise research projects in Old and New Testament (and related fields like Hebrew, Greek, and Ancient History), Systematic Theology, and Philosophy. Through our missionary colleagues, Drs Dick and Caroline Seed, and researcher, Dr Jake Griesel, we can also supervise in Missiology and Church History. Our next challenge is to increase capacity.

The future is exciting. Who knows what God has planned? I’ve always thought that GWC punches far above its weight in terms of Gospel impact in Africa, and I think we’re proving that now. But we know that this is God’s doing and not ours. We’re grateful for the role that God has given our postgraduate department in strengthening and resourcing his church. And we look forward to where we might be ten years from now.

Sivuyile Lurai finished his Master of Theology degree in 2019, submitting his thesis, entitled: A Comparison of Women’s learning and Teaching Amongst Graeco-Roman Philosophers and Paul in 1 Timothy and Titus. He is currently the minister at Langa Life Bible Church in Cape Town. Sivuyile says, “My years studying at GWC have been a time of growth in at least three areas of my life: as a Christian, a researcher, and a Pastor-teacher. As a researcher, I was exposed to the minefield of resources available and learned how to navigate them and still come up with a dissertation that bears my mark. My work as a pastor and teacher has been tremendously enriched – I have been honed in shepherding the flock of God with greater effectiveness…”