Thirteen Adventist lay pastors from across Vanuatu are the first recipients of Fulton College’s new Certificate in Theology.
The graduates, who have been serving in pastoral ministry for Vanuatu Mission, received their certificates on Sunday morning at a ceremony held at Portoroki Seventh-day Adventist Church in Port Vila.
The theme for the graduation ceremony was “equipped for service”. Vanuatu Mission president Pastor Nos Terry described the event as an “historic occasion” for the Church in Vanuatu, which is in “desperate need for more trained ministers”.
During the graduation ceremony, Pastor Terry paid tribute to Fulton College (Fiji) for bringing the program to Vanuatu. He also affirmed the graduates for the hard work they have put in.
“I want to say thank you and wish you much of God’s blessing as you return to your work,” said Pastor Terry. “Your training will help you in your ministry wherever you go.”
Special guests at the graduation ceremony included Johhny Koanapo Rasou, parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister’s office and a member of Etas Seventh-day Adventist Church, Fulton College principal Dr Glynn Galo and Trans Pacific Union Mission education director Dr Bev Norman.
Addressing the graduates on Sunday morning, Dr Norman encouraged the pastors to “take these certificates and move on with your journey boldly”.
The Certificate of Theology program commenced in Vanuatu in July 2017. Over the course of the next year, lay pastors from as far as Tanna Island gathered in Port Vila (Efate) to undertake three month-long training sessions.
Fulton College theology lecturer Pastor James Alagappan, who helped the graduates through the final month of intensive training, said the certificate program provides lay pastors with the “core essentials of discipleship and what it means to conduct evangelism”.
Pastor Alagappan stressed the value of this “in-field training” as many church members do not have the opportunity to pursue further tertiary education, due to finances or family commitments.
“As opposed to them coming to Fulton, it’s Fulton coming to them,” he said.
Dr Galo said Fulton College is ready to pursue similar overseas training opportunities in ministry, whether in Solomon Islands or again in Vanuatu.
A moment of silence was held at the start of Sunday’s graduation ceremony for Pastor Titus John, who passed away suddenly in March before the completion of the program.
Church leaders remembered Pastor John as a dynamic evangelist with a heart for spreading the gospel.