Thirty of the founding pastors, district superintendents, evangelists and teachers of The United Methodist Church in Vietnam completed a course with President Wendy Deichmann Edwards July 12- 17 in Ho Chi Minh City. The pastors traveled from as far away as the Mekong Delta, five or six hours, to take the intensive course in United Methodist Doctrine at the new United Methodist Center. The class was one of a sequence of courses the Vietnamese students hope to take from United in Vietnam in order to complete the requirements for ordination in the UMC. At least one of the students plans to enroll this fall at United in Dayton so that she may complete her degree more quickly than would otherwise be possible. Then she will return to Vietnam to serve churches in the mountainous mid-section of the country.
A Doctor of Ministry Peer Group is also being planned for Vietnamese students who have completed masters degrees in neighboring countries.
The UMC is growing rapidly in Vietnam under the leadership of these gifted pastors. Both the United Methodist Church and the Vietnamese government require an accredited theological education for the pastors serving more than 160 churches recently planted in this country. Currently there is no UM approved school in Vietnam where the students may earn the full degree. UM missionaries Dr. Ut Van To and Rev. Karen Van To have founded Wesley Theological College, which is expected to meet this need in the future. Meanwhile, the Van Tos, the General Board of Global Ministries, Bishop Larry Goodpaster and Bishop Bruce Ough have invited United Theological Seminary to serve as the UM approved degree granting institution for the first group of pastors to be ordained by the UMC in Vietnam.
In 2008 the General Conference of The United Methodist Church requested that the UM related theological schools in the United States focus greater attention upon international theological education. United Theological Seminary and the people of The UMC, both in Vietnam and in the United States, will be enormously blessed by this dynamic partnership!
Wendy J. Deichmann Edwards 7.16.10