2015–2017 Mission Grant: Renovation of JEM Seminary Buildings — Nigeria, $120,000 fully paid

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The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod began work in Nigeria in 1936 among the rural Ibesikpo clan with 16 initial congregations and grew into the Lutheran Church of Nigeria, which became an LCMS partner church in 1963.

The Lutheran Church in Nigeria (LCN) is the oldest partner church in Africa, and currently comprised of approximately 80,000 members in 339 congregations. The LCN operates the Jonathan Ekong Memorial Lutheran Seminary (named after the late Rev. Dr. Jonathan Udo Ekong, the pioneering father) in Obot Idim and continues to be an important partner for Gospel proclamation, preparing young men for the ministry in the LCN in the most populous country in Africa.

In recent years, the student population experienced record highs with 79 students in 2014 and 87 in 2015 compared to 54 students in 2009. The Theological Education by Extension program is also seeing incremental increases.
In addition to making the buildings safe and serviceable, the seminary is preparing to apply for accreditation from the Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC). Students at the seminary complete five years of academic work and three years of internship before graduation. The seminary seeks to provide recognized credentials for their students as well as for the development of the seminary and church. Students will also officially graduate from University of Uyo in a diploma program.

In order for the Nigeria Seminary to achieve accreditation and students to receive university credit, the facilities must meet the standards of the Nigeria Universities Commission. The goal is to renovate or rebuild the buildings so they are safe and serviceable under the burden of larger student numbers. The overall plans include three hostel buildings, an administrative building and the library.

This project will serve the Seminary community made up of teaching and non-teaching staff and students totaling approximately 150 people, not including visitors. The seminary facilities are host to periodical LCN conferences and workshops, as well as short-term visiting lecturers from the States.

The original grant proposal was for the renovation of the dormitories. However, it was discovered that the present building structures and designs which were originally planned to be renovated would not meet NUC standard for accreditation approval.

In February, 2016, LWML approved Synod’s request to construct new dormitories with the portion of grant funds originally intended for remodeling the old and obsolete structures.

Archbishop Christian Ekong has submitted architectural illustrations and drawings for a two-story dormitory building that is designed to house 100 students. Archbishop Ekong is currently working on the detailed budget for the total construction. Once Synod has received and accepted the budget plan, a grant agreement will be executed and a portion of the funds will be forward for the initial phase. Additional funding will be forwarded upon successful progress reports from Archbishop Ekong.

On March 15, 2017, LWML President Patti Ross and VP of Gospel Outreach, Shelley Moeller visited the International Center and presented a check in the amount of $120,000 for this project to John Fale, Dan McMiller and Gary Schulte. Dan McMiller also presented LWML with a copy of the architectural illustrations and drawings.

It is anticipated the building should be completed in July, 2018.

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For more information about this mission grant, view the individual mission grant page here.