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22 June 2020 | Binfield, UK [Daniel Duda]  

Over a four-year period, a mixture of 35 union and conference leaders, along with some local pastors and an ADRA director, have focused on learning and developing new leadership styles under the European MA in Leadership programme. The course was offered by Andrews University via Newbold College of Higher Education.

As latest two cohorts of students that started in June 2016 and 2017 are now finishing their studies, a special closing ceremony took place on Thursday evening, 11 June. This followed their final ten-day intensive, this time via zoom, and was a small opportunity for the participants from the Trans-European and Inter-European Divisions to celebrate this milestone.

Apostolic Blessing by  Randy SieboldCourse co-leader, Randy Siebold, together with Erich Baumgartner, offer a special blessing to the students.Though not every participant had fully completed all their requirements, this was the last meeting of the cohorts and so was an apt reason to celebrate what has been accomplished. Erich Baumgartner and Randy Siebold from Andrews University have overseen both cohorts and fittingly put the celebratory programme together.

Andrea Luxton, president of Andrews University, greeted the students and emphasised the necessity of adaptability in leadership. The programme then involved looking back and sharing memories and pictures from students, teachers, and advisors. There was even inspiring music shared via Zoom.

Raafat KamalTED President Raafat Kamal.Raafat Kamal, Trans-European Division president, gave the charge, underlying the importance of open conversation for effective leadership. He also thanked the teachers, the students and their families for putting up with the strain of studies.

John Baildam, Newbold principal, gave an overview of the programme from its inception at a GC Leadership Seminar in Jerusalem some years back, and also reflected on previous cohorts from 1999. Some of the current leaders within the TED and beyond are graduates of those two original cohorts.

In his concluding remarks, Daniel Duda, TED Education director, emphasised that leaders need to be not only agents of change but also agents of hope. He used the words of apostle Paul from Romans 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Anne Vrcelj is Executive secretary of the Finnish Union of Churches. She said, “I have grown during this programme as a leader and as a person. I am grateful to God, the Trans-European Division and the Finland Union of Churches for this life-changing opportunity, and also to my fellow leaders for this journey!”

MA in leadership group photoMA in leadership Zoom group photo.Karen Holford, TED Family Ministries director confesses that “I arrived at the TED with very little experience of leadership, and I knew that the learning curve would be steep.” Despite the hard work, she is grateful she joined the programme. “The MA in Leadership has helped me to negotiate that curve and encouraged me to grow in almost every dimension as a leader. It has given me the courage and confidence to become the leader God is calling me to be. Now I have a backpack full of expanding competencies, a compass, and a road map, to guide me on my future leadership journey.”

Maja Ahac is Head of Advocacy for ADRA Europe. “At the beginning of my leadership journey, I made a decision: ‘Whatever was lost, can be found. Whatever was broken, can be mended. From now on, I will decide what kind of person I want to be,’” she says. “I decided who I want to belong to and who I want to be – loving, wise, courageous, inspirational, kind. I chose courage over comfort. A female leader filled with God’s love and wisdom, ready to be a co-creator with God.”

MA in leadership group photo2Marianne Dyrud, recently elected as Executive Secretary in Norway, adds, “The leadership programme has encouraged me to be more aware of the fact that God is using the blind sides of my leadership. I can detect that God is using me through who I am as a person, and that leadership skills and development is not a static sphere, but a constant stretching and learning area, where every day is an arena to be trained for leadership.”

Pastor Llew Edwards was a senior advisor to some of the students. “Just like the sunflowers in my garden, our leadership students began slowly, but, as they learnt about spiritual leadership, they grew rapidly towards the Son. Then they grew in different sides of their competency skills and during the dark times of leadership they look in hope to the rising of the Son.”

Duda concluded with prayer that the church in Europe, under the leadership of these students, can unleash a fervent, overflowing torrent of God-given hope for every individual and for each community.


tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
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