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The Shepherd Centre celebrates decade of empowering spiritual leaders
2016-08-01

The Shepherd Centre functions under the auspices of the Faculty of Theology at the University of the Free State (UFS), and arose out of a need for non-denominational adult-learning programmes for those actively involved in the ministry. According to the director, Dr Gerhard Botha, the centre came into being to assist spiritual leaders: “The Shepherd Centre takes on the shepherding responsibility for spiritual leaders of all Christian churches.”

Planning started in 2005, when the need was identified for foundation-phase education in the wider church community. Dr Botha was appointed as the director of the centre in 2006, and given the task of compiling a suitable curriculum. The aim of the curriculum is to enable spiritual leaders to provide current interpretations of scripture for a modern society. From the first handful of students a decade ago, The Shepherd Centre has grown by mid-2016 to 300 adult learners enrolled in the short learning programmes, many of which are catered for at the satellite sites in Kimberley, Koffiefontein, Kroonstad, Qwaqwa/Kestell, Thaba Nchu, Zeerust, and the South Campus of the UFS.

This initiative has extended its reach even further than the boundaries of the Free State. In 2014, Dr Botha and Prof Fanie Snyman, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, visited Ethiopia, and signed an agreement of mutual collaboration with the Full Gospel Church there. In addition, a Shepherds4Africa programme is involved in Christian communities and with Christian religious leaders in several other countries, providing training opportunities to various indigenous churches, with the greater vision of spreading the Word to all countries in Africa and beyond. Dr Botha states that their hope is to provide the tools needed in order to make the community of faith as healthy so as to build its moral fibre.

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