18 pastors and church leaders from various foreign churches based in Germany took part in this year’s Pastoral integration and training program (PIAP). The course organised and offered by the Federation of Evangelical Free Churches (BEFG) targets, pastors and the international communities in Germany and in German-speaking countries to network with each other. Those who successfully completed the PIAP course are ordained as pastors recognised by the BEFG.
Richard Aidoo, a Ghanaian and the senior pastor of New Life Church in Düsseldorf, was impressed by his PIAP course in 2012 such that he advertised it to all and sundry. Therefore, this year he encouraged all the pastors of churches that have emerged from the New Life Church to also participate in PIAP. The advertising was effective, and so most of the participants of the new course are originally from African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia, Kenya and the Congo. Others come from Vietnam or from Mexico. They are all leaders of International communities in the Rhine-Ruhr area, in Hamburg and Vienna.
The BEFG aims to remain in close contact with the international communities and to allow integration and networking . PIAP plays a key role, because the leaders of the international communities e.g. pastors get to interact with employees of the Federal government.
The course involves two block seminars in Elstal where participants learn about the history and theology of the German Baptists. The participants also write papers on key theological themes and discuss them with their study guides.
All participants have a pastoral companion , with whom they can also attend Pastoral conventions and events of the federal and regional organizations in their locality . In three years, they learn a lot about the basic questions of theology and learn to ask good questions and to consider their theological practice .
In the first course block in 2013, the participants discussed the interpretation of Scripture . In all the contributions and discussions , especially on the question of inspiration of Scripture, everyone, including the teachers, learned something .
And that’s what integration should be like where everyone learns something new.