GEMENA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (August 30, 2010) – The first-ever commencement exercises for the Ubangi Protestant University (UPU) were held August 14. Eight students received Master of Theology degrees, and 10 received Bachelor of Theology degrees.
More than 1,200 people attended the two-and-a-half-hour ceremony held at the Evangelical Free Church of Congo temple. The hats and shoulders of graduates were dusted with powder as a sign of joy at their accomplishment (lower photo). A receiving line congratulated each of the graduates, with a shared meal following.
Tee additional photos during the ceremony and the festivities that followed below.
Attending the historic event were Mossai Sanguma, president of the Congo Covenant Church (CEUM) and rector of UPU, and Liwawa Elenga, CEUM vice president, who received a Master of Theology degree (top photo).
Sanguma developed the vision for the school, says Pete Ekstrand, Evangelical Covenant Church missionary to Congo. The Congo Ministry of Education approved the school in July 2008 and graduate students arrived that September.
The university has campuses in Gemena and Goyongo. The Goyongo campus, about 120 miles north of Gemena, is the former Superior Institute of Evangelical Theology of the Ubangi. This school continues to be a joint ministry of the CEUM and Free churches (CECU). The Goyongo campus provides a bachelor level theological education.
The Gemena campus is located at the education and agriculture center located three miles from the center of Gemena. Its lone building is the former workshop of one of the high schools at the center.
Ekstrand says the school meets the “real need for higher level education locally.” In the past, students have had to travel long distances to attend classes.