United Theological Seminary of Ricatla

Read the latest report from the United Theological Seminary of Ricatla in Mozambique.

Mozambique
Update May 2012

Located in southern Africa, Mozambique is noted for its coastal lowlands with high plateaus and mountains. The country suffers from severe droughts, devastating cyclones, and floods.  Moreover, Mozambique still is 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. Mozambique's large cities have high rates of violence and crime, and the majority of the country's population suffers from poverty, malnutrition, disease, hunger, and high rates of illiteracy. Mozambicans have one of the world’s lowest average life expectancies, due in part to HIV/AIDS.

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 graduated hundreds of ministers, both male and female, who have gone on to work in a variety of churches throughout the country. Currently, there are 46 students, 22 of whom are women as well as 18 professors, seven of whom are women. Students study the Bible, theology, history, and pastoral care, as well as agricultural development, preparing them to serve the spiritual and physical needs of communities both urban and rural.

The United Seminary of Ricatla has seven member churches – United Methodist, Wesleyan Methodist, Presbyterian, 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 long-standing 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.

Accomplishments:

Reverend Isaias Titoce, a native of Mozambique, became the first Ricatla student to be sent by the Seminary to pursue graduate studies at the University of Natal, South Africa.
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 ten years ago.

The Seminary co-sponsored an urban ministry program with the University of South Africa and the Eduardo Mondlane University, located in Mozambique. Students from the Seminary also visited the Theological School of Cambine (a United Methodist Seminary in Mozambique) on an exchange program. 

Challenges:

The Seminary would like to initiate more programs for spouses of students (the majority of whom are women).  However, some are illiterate and the school has difficulty offering programs for a wide range of students, with a limited number of teachers. There also is a lack of childcare available, 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 the acquisition of 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 often are not 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.

Many of the seminary's buildings are beginning to show their age and are in need of repairs and upgrades. 

Ricatla's library is well-stocked with books on theology, ethics, and history, but most of these books are in English and very few of the books are written by African theologians. The seminary would like to increase the number of books written in Portuguese, since this is the language in which classes and seminars are taught. Theology books written by African authors would also be greatly beneficial to students and lecturers alike.