Located in southern Africa, Mozambique is noted for its coastal lowlands with high plateaus and mountains. The country is plagued with severe droughts, devastating cyclones, and floods. Mozambique is also recovering from a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992. Its official language is Portuguese with indigenous dialects.
The combination of political upheaval and natural disaster has made Mozambique among the world's poorest countries and it remains dependent on international financial backing. Its population is suffering from poverty, malnutrition, disease, hunger, and a high illiteracy rate. There is an alarming rise in HIV/AIDS which has resulted in lower life expectancy. Mozambique's large cities are plagued with violence and crime.
The United Seminary of Ricatla is an ecumenical theological institution in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital. It was founded in 1958 by a group of Protestant churches committed to creating a school where ministers can receive cross-denominational training in an ecumenical setting. For many years, the school was not recognized by the government, but it is now an accredited institution. The United Seminary of Ricatla has since graduated hundreds of ministers, both male and female, who have gone on to work in a variety of churches throughout the country. There are currently 51 students total including 14 in Christian Education. The seminary has ten instructors.
The United Seminary of Ricatla has seven member churches – United Methodist, Wesleyan Methodist, Presbyterians, Evangelical Church of Christ, the United Congregational Church of Mozambique (UCCM), the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) – Mozambique Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Both the UCCM and the UCCSA are Global Ministries partners.
The ecumenical mission of The United Seminary of Ricatla is demonstrated in its practice of requiring students to complete their practical training in three denominations besides their own. The Seminary also offers exchange programs and accepts students from outside Mozambique. In addition to being respected for its theological training, the Seminary is well respected for the leadership and spirit of unity and understanding its graduates provide, both among churches and in the communities of Mozambique.
- Reverend Isaias Titoce, a native of Mozambique, became the first student to be sent by the Seminary to pursue graduate studies at the University of Natal. After receiving his Masters’ degree in Biblical studies, he returned to the Seminary in 2003 as a lecturer and librarian. A second student was sent to the University of Natal in 2004.
- The Seminary introduced programs on HIV/AIDS and Mission Studies to its curriculum almost 10 years ago.
- The Seminary co-sponsored an urban ministry program with the University of South Africa and Eduardo Mondlane University. Students from the Seminary also visited the Theological School of Cambine on an exchange program.
- The Seminary would like to initiate more programs for spouses of students (the majority of whom are women) but some are illiterate and the school has difficulty offering programs for a wide range of needs with a limited number of teachers. There’s also a lack of childcare making it difficult for both parents to study.
- Water is scarce and only one of the campus’ three water pumps is working. An additional well would be beneficial or more reliable equipment to replace the existing equipment.
- Transportation is another challenge. The school has one minibus which is used to get teachers from Maputo to Ricatla daily. When there are issues with the minibus, teachers may not be able to get to campus because the alternative is a 1.2 mile walk and then a series of four buses to use public transportation.