The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) recently reported that the first two students will graduate this spring from a Spanish-language Bachelor of Theology program jointly run by GBHEM and the Latin American Biblical University / Universidad Biblica Latinoamericana (UBILA). The program is designed for Spanish-speaking pastors in the United States and involves distance work, sessions in Nashville, TN, and work at UBILA in Costa Rica. Thus, the education is international, not only in its sponsor institutions but also its location.
The partnership is also a great example of a reciprocal relationship between North American and Latin American Methodists. UBILA is supported in part through UMC missionary faculty, through Advance Special scholarships, and through UMC mission volunteers teams. Yet the resources that UBILA brings to its partnership with GBHEM go far beyond those given to it by the North American church. UBILA contributes its own strengths, expertise, and personnel to help make this ministry-training program a success, and the North American UMC benefits from the services of the Spanish-speaking pastors produced by the program. Both partners have something to share with each other, and by sharing, they are both able to do more than they could on their own.
GBHEM has been doing a great job recently in expanding its international partnerships, and this program is yet another example of a successful partnership. It is also an example of how, when two or more groups each share what they have with each other, the sum can be greater than the parts, and each one participating can be blessed.