A little over a year ago, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Mt. Airy, Carroll Co. launched the Western Gambella Bethel Synod (WGBS) Theological Empowerment Project in response to an urgent appeal to help expand the synod's theological training school.
St. Andrews collected nearly 7000 volumes of theological reference books and Bibles with help from
the Presbytery of Baltimore and other churches in New York and North Carolina. Volunteers spent over 400 hours sorting and preparing the 6,150 books which were recently shipped to Ethiopia; and, the West Side Ministry Group made a generous contribution to ship most of the books to Ethiopia. The remaining 800 volumes were donated to the Maryland Bible Society to be shipped to a second school in Kenya. St. Andrew’s thanks all who participated in this project, especially the members of Hamilton Presbyterian Church and their pastor, Greg Seltzer, who helped collect and store the books during the year.
Located in Southwestern Ethiopia, WGBS is a part of the Mekane Yesus Church which grew out of over 100 years of Presbyterian missionary service there. WGBS, which is currently supported by PCUSA missionaries Michael and Rachael Weller, serves the 150,000 to 200,000 Nuer people living in that region. Due to violence in the South Sudan, hundreds of thousands of refugees have flooded into Ethiopia. The church is ill-equipped to deal with this situation, and is in desperate need of seminary resources to train pastors. In recent communications from the school we have learned that refugee leaders have also asked to take classes. Even though the school has not been able to cover current program costs, the staff and administrators voted to add a track for refugees and are voluntarily working unpaid hours to facilitate these new classes.
WGBS leaders have proposed a plan to double the capacity of the school. They are in desperate need for funding to build new classrooms and dormitories. Their highest priority is $14,000 for a building to house their expanded library when it arrives. When asked where he would put the books in the meantime, the directory of the school replied, “I will give up my office!”
St. Andrew’s invites other churches to join with us in our continued participation in this emerging partnership. We believe it has the potential to heighten our awareness and deepen our compassion regarding Christians and missionaries in Africa who carry on despite distressing circumstances and a sense of abandonment by Western churches.
Contributions to help cover the remaining $2000 cost in shipping the books may be sent to St. Andrew’s, designated for the Ethiopian Book Project.
For further information about the WGBS book project and Bible school expansion, please contact
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
or Ed Pollock at