The History of St John’s Theological College, Wau 

By the Rt Rev Moses Deng Bol - Bishop of the Diocese of Wau.

 

Why we started St John’s Theological College

During the war the Church specially ECS Grew very fast but there were no Theological Colleges to train Clergy before ordination so the Former Bishop of Bor Diocese Rt Rev Nathaniel Garang who was then Caretaker Bishop of Wau Diocese when the Diocesan Bishop Henry Riak was in prison in Khartoum resorted to what was known as mass ordination of Clergy who had very little basic education and no theological education at all.

When Bishop Henry returned to Wau after his released from prison in Khartoum he continued with this practice of mass ordination. So when he retired and I took over the Diocese my vision was to train these clergy and many other Evangelists and lay readers who were working in the parishes. So we were thinking of starting a theological College in Wau because the other five Provincial Colleges were all in Equatoria and Upper Nile Regions which are very far from Wau, but were not sure how and when to start the College.

 

How we started St John’s College

In 2011 we got scholarships from friends in the US and UK to send six of these Clergy for theological training at Bishop Gwynne College (BGC) in Juba. By then BGC was affiliated to St Paul’s University in Limuru Kenya so for students to be admitted at BGC they must pass St Paul’s Special Entrance Examination (SEE). So our students sat for the exams but two of them Rev Andrew Ngong and John Bol failed the exams and hence could not be admitted at BGC for a Diploma Course.

Knowing their low education background and their determination to learn given an opportunity at a lower level and our vision of starting a theological College in Wau, I decided to request their sponsors to allow them to do a one year intensive English Course in Wau which they graciously accepted. So we started the College with two students and were later joined by another student Samuel Mabith who was in a secondary school within the Church compound. I acted as the Principal and Tutor and Rev Andrew Apiny who was the Acting Diocesan Administrative Secretary acted as the Dean and Tutor as well.

We were later joined by Rev Peter Yuol who became one of the Tutors at the College. In the following year Rev Joseph Mamer took over the College as the 1st Principal and started the first ever theological classes as well as building the St John’s Dormitory. Rev Mamer left in 2013.

After one year of the intensive English Course Rev John Bol decided to go back to BGC for another SEE which he passed so he was admitted at to do his a diploma for 3 years while Andrew Ngong and Samuel Mabith were joined by five others as first year students at St John’s College. Three of these students including Samuel got scholarships from the Episcopal Church of Scotland, Provincial Oversees Committee (POC) while Rev Ngong’s sponsor Rev St Burns of the Church of England UK continued to support him in his theological studies.

This year (2013-2014) which is the second Academic year of the College we are expecting at least twenty five new students and all the seven students are now going to second year. POC has decided to sponsor two more students and Poole Deanery in the Diocese of Salisbury has given half scholarships to two students while a group of women in Poole Deanery have also promised to support at least two students as well. Rev Janice Audibert and a few other friends have also promised to consider sponsoring one or two students at the College. Mr Homfray of the Military Chaplains Fellowship has promised to sponsor two SPLA Chaplains.

While visiting US I met with a group of Clergy from the Diocese New Jersey who were interested in sponsoring two students. In Washington DC I met Fran Boyne whose ministry has supported a number of students from Wau before and she promised to ask her Church to support more students.

 

Where did we start St John’s College

We started St John’s College in the Cathedral compound in Wau where we had Primary, Secondary school and Nursery schools. We used the Nursery School classroom in the afternoon as the little children were released earlier. We continued with this in the Intensive English year (2011-2012) class and in the (2012-2013) class until this year when we finally removed the Secondary school out of the compound so that its classes are used for St John’s College. The students also did not have accommodation until this year when we managed to build one dormitory for them.

 

When did we start St John’s College

St John’s College was started in 2011 when we introduced intensive English Course to our two students who could not passed St Paul’s University Special Entrance Examination (SEE) due to poor education background. We then started the 1st year Theological Classes in August 2012 and year which ended in May 2013. In 2013 we are going to have our first ever 2nd year and the new students will joint first year as well.

 

What did we start St John’s College with

We started St John’s College with a vision to provide theological training to our clergy and two students who could not join BGC. We were encouraged by the willingness of their sponsors to continue supporting them in Wau to go through one year of an intensive English Course even after they failed the Limuru exams. We had Nursery School Classroom which we could use in the afternoon and two of us who could volunteer as Tutors.

In the following year we were very much encouraged by POC which sponsored three more students in the College so that we were able to use the fees to pay a full time Principal who really worked hard to establish the College.

 

 

What is the future of St John’s College

We believe that St John College will continue to grow as we have seen in the last two years of its life and that it will address the training needs of the Clergy not only in Wau Diocese but the entire Region of Bhar El Ghazal which is the largest region in South Sudan. We hope more people will come out to sponsor more students so that we can employ more Tutors and train more Clergy from the eight Dioceses of the Bhar El Ghazal Region. Wau is near to North Sudan and so we hope to train Clergy from the North in the future as well.

We trust the Lord for funding to build classrooms and dormitories  outside Wau town where the College will be situated permanently. We are also hoping to expand the College to offer other vocational training courses. This will help many young people who did not get an opportunity to go to school during the war, especially ex-combatants and former Child soldiers, to acquire skills that can enable them to earn a living for their families.