At the famous world missionary conference in Edinburgh in 1910, a vision was established for quality theological education in a number of cities outside the West, each serving a wider region and a variety of Christian denominations. One of the places in view was Cairo:
Missionary training programmes were recommended to be upgraded academically to post-graduate levels and to take place mainly in “central missionary colleges” (not as before just in regional denominational mission seminaries) which were to be foreseen in places like Shanghai, Madras, Calcutta, Beirut and Cairo and should be open to missionaries of all Christian denominations. These plans were visionary and revolutionary in their understanding of Christian education and theological education in particular. Without using the terminology yet this can be seen as the hour of birth for a new concern
– for theological education of missionaries outside the traditional centers of the West,
– for a globally coordinated policy and development of theological education in the South,
– for centralized and interdenominational key institutions of theological education in the churches of the South,
– for theological education on an advanced academic level. (Theological Education in World Christianity: Joint Information Service of ETE/WCC & WOCATI, November 2009, 11–12.)
Although the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo had already been established in 1863 (150 years ago!), I do not know whether in Edinburgh one had in mind to transform our seminary into such a “centralized and interdenominational key institution of theological education” or that one wanted to establish a new institution. In fact, our seminary has certainly partly lived up to this vision: while many of our students will serve in presbyterian churches in Egypt, we have also had students from other denominations and students coming from and/or going to e.g. Sudan, Iraq, Gaza, Syria, and Norway, and our seminary offers degrees from diploma to master’s level. May this vision of a century ago inspire us to continue and even deepen and expand our work in the twenty first century.