By Dr Reuben van Rensburg
SATS will be holding its annual graduation ceremony this coming Saturday April 22, 2017. This year the seminary will confer degrees on over 200 students including 53 Honours, 12 Masters and nine PhD’s. The ceremony is always a highlight in the seminary’s annual calendar, reminding all of us here at SATS of our purpose and the joy that it is to serve the body of Christ and to contribute towards the strengthening of the wider global Church. When interviewed, Dr Reuben van Rensburg provided his views on this year’s event.
Q: How would you characterise SATS graduation 2017?
A: Every graduation ceremony is special in that it is the celebration of years of hard work for each of the graduates. As we move towards our 21 st birthday on 1st June 2017, we are mindful of God’s amazing provision, which has helped us to grow to where we are today, and which this year sees over 200 students graduating, including nine with PhD’s!
Q: How does this reflect the position of the Seminary at this point in time? (South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world).
A: While seminaries in some parts of the world are struggling, especially in the area of student debt and financial sustainability, we have continued to grow at a steady pace and in the first few months of this year have shown a significant increase in enrolments. At a time when South Africa’s annual growth rate was less than one per cent, our seminary grew by 28%!
Q: Why Chuck van Engen as Guest Speaker?
A: Chuck is one of the leaders of the Latin American Doctoral Programme in Theology www.prodola.org our South American doctoral programme partner, and a good friend of SATS. He is also a highly respected missiologist, having served as the head of Missiology at Fuller Theological Seminary in the US. His vast experience will also make a significant contribution to our academic staff’s growth, as he is also the guest speaker at our annual Academic Retreat, which precedes the Graduation this year.
Q: What are some of the outstanding dissertations among this year’s PhD graduates?
A: Each of the PhD dissertations makes a valuable contribution to theological research and it would be difficult to highlight one or two at the expense of the others, but a list of their titles is attached.
Q: Any new developments within SATS that coincide with the graduation?
A: Yes, we have been offering a PhD scholarship to the person who submitted the best proposal with respect to research around ancestor worship in the African context, and we plan to announce the winner at the Graduation Ceremony. The winner of last year’s scholarship will be sharing some of her work at a conference at Mosaiek in July. We are also about to launch a second scholarship for research connected to a project designed to establish a national database of Christian organisations, churches, etc., in South Africa, which is being developed by our friends at www.wensa.org.za Bible Media and Mergon. What is also special is that this will be the first Graduation at which the Frederick Buechner Awards www.frederickbuechner.com for excellence in writing and excellence in preaching will be made. Each of these carries a prize of $1000.