The North German Union and South German Union conferences of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have reached an agreement with Theologische Hochschule Friedensau (Friedensau Adventist University), a higher education school in Möckern, Germany, stipulating that the Adventist Church will cover students’ tuition fees while they are enrolled in an undergraduate theology degree at the school. Members of the governing bodies of both church regions approved this agreement at their business session on December 5, 2021.
The agreement will allow students to complete a full theology degree without paying tuition fees, starting in the Summer 2022 semester, church leaders said. The Inter-European Division of Seventh-day Adventists, the administrative body that oversees the church's work in approximately half of Europe’s countries, including Germany, also revamped the master's program in theology to include a fee exemption for students. The adopted regulations also apply to students from abroad and students who have already been enrolled.
Help amid Uncertainty
“It is important that all those who are seriously interested in working as Adventist pastors can complete their studies without financial risk,” Johannes Naether, president of the North German Union, said. Starting in the summer semester in 2022, theology majors will only pay enrollment fees at Friedensau and the costs for accommodation and meals.
Adventist leaders hope to win over students who are still unsure whether this is their vocation at the beginning of their studies, Werner Dullinger, South German Union president, said.
Revamped Degree Programs
At the same time, besides financial relief, the school is revamping the content and overall idea of its theology programs. Friedensau introduced a new undergraduate program in the winter 2020 semester. At the end of that degree, students can serve as pastor's assistants at a local church.
The first three years of studies include practical skills that allow young theologians to qualify to serve in local congregations, public relations officials at the school explained. After they serve two years as an assistant pastor, the way is clear for a master’s degree in theology. For full-time activity as a pastor, a master’s degree is still necessary.
The master’s program has also been revamped. Starting in the winter 2022-23 semester, only Friedensau will offer the Master in Pastoral Ministry across the EUD.
Important focus points are the fields of practical theology and mission theology. “It is intended to ensure a theological education that is close to the needs of the local congregations and close to the challenges of a secular society,” Roland Fischer, Friedensau president, said. The new master’s program will be taught by an international faculty. It will also be free for students.
About Friedensau Adventist University
Founded in 1899, Theologische Hochschule Friedensau reached university level in 1990. The school offers eight undergraduate and graduate degrees in Christian Social Work and Theology, as well as a course in German as a Foreign Language. Forty-two countries are represented in a student body of around two hundred.
The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-European Division news site. This article was last updated on January 20, 2022.