Blog Interview – Dr Ezra Kok – Seminari Theoloji Malaysia

1) Please tell us about yourself and your role in STM.

Hello! My name is Rev Dr Ezra Kok, the Principal of Seminari Theoloji Malaysia (STM). I am also a lecturer in New Testament studies.

2) Can you tell us more about the history of STM?

STM came into existence as a joint Anglican, Evangelical Lutheran and Methodist venture on the 6 January 1979. For Anglicans and Evangelical Lutherans this marked a further stage in their co-operation in theological education in Malaysia, which had earlier included the Christian Training Centre and Kolej Theoloji Malaysia. Since then, we still holding onto our vision and is thankful to for the many contributions people have made towards the growth and development of STM. The journey of STM began at the ELCM premises at Brickfields (1979-April 1983). Since then, we have moved to the Methodist High School premise in Sentul (June 1983-1991) and from Sentul, we moved to Xavier Hall in Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya (1992-1997). For nearly twenty years, STM was nomadic. Finally, in 1998 we shifted to our permanent campus at Seremban in time for the new academic year. During our short history the total number of graduands has exceeded 700 and they are serving in different parts of Malaysia and beyond. Our faculty has increased in qualifications and experience, and we are glad to see that the supporting churches are taking steps to prepare suitably qualified ministers for teaching in the seminary.

3) What courses does STM offer?

We offer undergraduate to postgraduate programs. In the undergraduate programs, a student can pursue the Diploma of Ministry (DipCM), Bachelor of Theology (BTh), Diploma of Theology (DipTh), Bachelor of Divinity (BD), Graduate Diploma of Christian Studies (GradDipCS), Master of Christian Studies (MCS), and Master of Divinity (MDiv).

For the postgraduate programs, a student can pursue the Master of Ministry (MMin) and Doctor of Ministry (DMin) for the professional track and the Master of Theology (MTh) and Doctor of Theology (DTheol) for the research track. (The DTheol is offered through ATU)  We have also courses for the laypeople in the form of Theological Education for Extension (TEE) programs like GradDipCS and MCS for graduates and DipCM and BTh for undergraduates.

4) How do students fund their studies at STM?

The majority of our students come through the recommendation of the different denominational churches and are mainly supported through the conference’s or synod’s scholarships. We also have students who are supported by local individual churches as well as some students on self sponsorship. Click for more information.

5) Does STM take in foreign students?

In the past, foreign students constituted almost 30% of the student population in STM. In recent years, however, we have encountered some problems procuring student visas for our foreign students. However, foreign students can still study in the postgraduate programs on a part-time basis.

6) What type of ministry does STM prepare students for?

We prepare students mainly for the denominational churches that are our founding and partner churches namely, the Methodist Church in Malaysia, the Anglican Diocese of West Malaysia, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malaysia, the Lutheran Church of Malaysia, and the Presbyterian Church of Malaysia. The majority of our students enter the ordained ministry of those churches although there are many who also opt for a variety of careers in education, mission organizations, community work, and other church-based ministries.

7) What is distinctive about what STM offers compared with other seminaries in the region?

There are some distinctives about what STM has to offer. Firstly, we have a faculty that is almost 100% local lecturers. Many of them hold a doctorate in their areas of specialization. Secondly, we offer modules on religions and faiths that are part of our unique Malaysian heritage. Thirdly, we are constantly wrestling with the issues of contextualization and indigenization of the Gospel in our multi-pluralistic and multi-cultural settings. Fourthly, our library holdings is one of the best in the region for theological and biblical research and study.

8) Can you tell us something about the library and research facilities?

The Library currently holds approximately 50,000 titles in the various collections, and receives about 250 current journals and periodicals. We also have a reasonable collection of multimedia and audiovisual materials, as well as microfiche. Our archives contain works on Malaysian church history and we are very keen to acquire additional materials to further expand our collection. To keep up with advances in information technology and knowledge management, the catalogue and library management system were fully automated in 2000 and Internet research facilities have been made available. As STM continues to develop and expand its community and programmes, the Library plans to similarly develop and expand by increasing its holdings and improving its facilities in order to offer up-to-date resources as well as a conducive environment for research.

9) Does STM offer distance learning or elearning?

Our main distance learning programs are currently the TEE program located in various centers in Malaysia namely, Seremban, Petaling Jaya (CTEE in Luther House), and in Kuching (housed in Trinity Methodist Church). The TEE program is conducted in four languages namely, English, Chinese, Tamil, and Bahasa Malaysia. We have also other theological centers working closely with STM where their students graduate with a STM certification. These centers are the Ipoh Theological Center (ITC), SiYuan Theological Center in Sitiawan, and the Sekolah Alkitab Malaysia (SAM) in Penang. We are also in the process of monitoring our first overseas center at Lay Academy for Ministry and Missions (LAMM) at Melbourne, which belongs to the Chinese Methodist Church in Australia.
We will be slowly working on other forms of elearning as the need arises.—

My thanks to Dr Kok for taking part in this series.

Blog Interview – Dr Graham McFarlane – London School of Theology

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at London School of Theology [LST]

I am the Vice-Principal: Academic and Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology at LST, and serve on the senior leadership team. I am responsible for directing the efforts of our excellent and internationally renowned faculty, developing partnerships with other international organisations, and for providing theological leadership.

2) Tell us a little about LST.

The London Bible College was founded in 1943 by a group of ministers, missionaries and business people with a vision for an interdenominational, evangelical college. Full-time students began studying in 1946 and in 1970 the College moved to Northwood, becoming the London School of Theology in 2004. Currently, LST has over 900 students on undergraduate, postgraduate, PhD and distance-learning programmes studying a range of certificate, diploma and degree courses in Biblical Theology, Music & Worship, and Christian Counselling.

3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

Courses at LST can be undertaken flexibly, full or part-time.

4) How do LST’s students fund their studies?

 

Undergraduate students are eligible for UK government student loans towards fees and living costs. US students are able to acquire Sallie Mae loans towards their studies. Many of our students are not in receipt of student loans and fund their studies through savings, fundraising, family and church support. LST also has bursary funds at its disposal and in 12/13, distributed £156,354 worth of bursaries to 78 students.

5) Does LST take students from overseas?

Many of LST’s students are from overseas – typically around 23% of our undergraduates and 58% of postgraduates are international students. The School has highly trusted sponsor status with the UK Borders Agency and is fully licenced to accept Tier 4 Visa students. In addition, we hope to be accredited with the European Union’s Erasmus programme, enabling greater student exchanges across the EU.

6) What type of ministry is LST intended to prepare students for?

 

Studying at LST prepares students for a diverse range of vocations. Our theological training is evangelical, interdenominational and spiritual, yet highly academic, enabling students to become Church leaders or undertake denominational training, as well as to pursue professional roles in other areas. Degrees in Theology, Music and Worship and Christian Counselling, allow students to explore specific gifts and callings in these areas whilst LST’s Training Department facilitates placements at various organisations, Churches and charities to provide students with vocational experience.

7) When students leave LST what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into.

LST graduates are involved across virtually all areas of Christian ministry including youth work, overseas mission, worship pastoring, and Church leadership as well as in law, international development, academia, journalism and politics. LST alumni include Ruth Valerio, author of ‘L Is For Lifestyle’, Joel Edwards, Director of the Micah Challenge and Steve Clifford, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance. Many of our students also continue studying after to undertake research Masters and PhD’s.

8) What is distinctive about what LST offers compared with other colleges in the UK and overseas?

LST uniquely combines a Christ-centred, pastoral, community with courses that represent evangelical, Bible-based theology and high academic standards. Our faculty (and indeed, our students) represent a broad range of denominations and theological viewpoints, creating an exciting environment of discussion, debate and joint understanding that truly prepares individuals for ‘doing’ theology in the modern world. We also host internationally renowned speakers including Dr. Timothy Tennent, Shane Claiborne, and Heidi Baker at our Laing Lecture and Deo Gloria Lecture.

9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

LST’s library is housed in the former chapel, holds over 50,000 volumes and over 200 periodical titles a year, and is recognised as one of the best specialist theological libraries in the UK. Subscription to the EBSCO Religion & Philosophy Collection™ provides full-text access to articles published in nearly 300 peer-reviewed academic journals.

10) Does LST offer a distance or on-line learning option. If yes, please tell us more about it.

LST offers a distance learning Theology Certificate, Diploma, BA and MA degree and will shortly launch a new MA in Integrative Theology, with seven unique exit points in Social Justice, Theology & Arts, Public Leadership, Worship Studies, Old Testament, New Testament, and Systematic Theology. Students will be able to study this programme residentially, entirely online via a Virtual Learning Environment, or via a combination of both.

My thanks to Dr McFarlane for taking part in their interview series. London School of Theology’s journal, Vox Evangelica is available online <<HERE>>.

Blog Interview – Dr John Frame – Reformed Theological Seminary

logo 1) Please introduce yourself and your role at RTS.

john-frame John M. Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL.

2) Tell us a little about RTS.

RTS was started in 1966, in Jackson, MS., to train students for ministry. The school is committed to the authority of Scripture and the Reformed understanding of the Scriptures as found in documents like the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Today RTS has campuses in Jackson, Orlando, Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, GA, Washington, DC, Houston, TX, and Memphis, TN. We offer programs of study leading to the M. Div. degree, M. A. degrees in several fields, and D. Min.. We also have a program in counselling. Currently, there are 974 students enrolled for academic credit.

3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

Our students are able to take our degree programs on either a full-time or a part-time basis.  20% of our students are considered full-time (12+ semester hours).

4) How do RTS students fund their studies?

 

The ideal scenario is for the student, their church, and RTS to each cover 33% of tuition.  Most students get some form of financial assistance from RTS and have to work to pay their living expenses.

5) Does RTS take students from overseas?

Yes, many of our students come from outside the United States and currently there are 67 international students from all over the world.

6) What type of ministry is RTS intended to prepare students for?

RTS seeks to prepare all their students with a solid foundation in the Scriptures, the Reformed faith, and Missional mind-set in order to equip them to serve Christ wherever He would call them.

7) When students leave, what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into?

Most of RTS graduates go into vocational ministry that include pastoral, missions, counselling, chaplains, college/university ministries, and various para-church ministries.

8) What is distinctive about what RTS offers compared with other colleges in the US and overseas?

(1) Our commitment to Reformed theology and biblical inerrancy. (2) The high quality of scholarship on the faculty. (3) The diversity of our student body and seminary locations.

9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

The Orlando library houses over 80,000 titles and another 100,000 in microform. In addition the resources of the other RTS libraries are easily accessible to RTS students, and there are a growing numbers of full-text electronic resources in biblical studies and theology that RTS students have access to.  In sum, the library fully supports the seminary’s MDiv curriculum, and it provides ways for faculty and students to conduct research beyond the curriculum.

10) Does RTS offer a distance or on-line learning option?

Yes. It is possible to earn three degrees from our Global Campus: the MABS, MATS, and the MAR (currently 455 students enrolled).  Many residential students take some classes through our Distance Education (currently 12%).  RTS-Orlando offers a Distance M.Div. for students who cannot move to campus.  This program allows a student to take up to 67% online and they can fulfil the 33% residential requirement via week-long intensives.

My thanks to Professor Frame for taking part in this series.