Kurewa: ‘This has been like Jesus at the mountain’

John Wesley Kurewa compared the commitment by the Foundation for Evangelism to endow a professorship in Africa University’s Faculty of Theology to the experience of Jesus on the mountaintop.

“Don’t you wish we could stay here forever?” he asked supporters of the United Methodist university who were gathered for the chancellor’s dinner during several days of celebrations surrounding the inauguration of the new vice chancellor, Munashe Furusa.

Foundation officials announced a commitment to endow an E. Stanley Jones Professorship of Evangelism that will be named for Kurewa, who served from 1992-1997 as the first vice chancellor of the university. Kurewa is now the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Africa University.

The professorship is funded by the Foundation for Evangelism in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, but not endowed. Endowment means raising enough money to ensure that income from those funds can support the chair in perpetuity.

Evangelism in Africa

During the dinner, Jane Boatwright Wood, president of the Foundation, and Larry Klemann, chairman of the board, announced plans to raise funds for the John Wesley Kurewa Chair, an E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism, in partnership with Africa University. Details about the campaign, including a dollar goal, will be announced later.

Wood spoke of attending Kurewa’s class and experiencing his interaction with students, as well as hearing students speak of how their evangelism classes have equipped them for ministry.

“They spoke articulately about evangelism in Africa — culturally sensitive, Biblically grounded and life-transforming. They taught us about The United Methodist Church in Africa and together we discussed the profound impact of African theologians and Christian leaders on evangelism worldwide,” Wood said.

“They spoke with great respect and admiration of Dr. Kurewa, sharing personal stories of the impact his teaching and writing has had on their personal ministries. This experience has been a revival for us all,” she said.

Klemann said his interaction with students was especially meaningful.

“It is the memories of these accomplished, exceptional young leaders, their commitment to this university and to transforming lives that I will take away. But beyond that I will leave with a deep understanding that I have walked the campus of Africa University and experienced for myself the presence of God here among those gathered,” he said.

Training pastors as evangelicals

Kurewa, in thanking the foundation, said that the main purpose of the foundation is to “enable our pastors to understand and believe in evangelism.”

“If we cannot be evangelicals, then what did God call us for? We must introduce as many people to Christ as we can,” he said.

The foundation was established by Harry Denman, former top executive of the church’s Board of Evangelism, now part of the United Methodist Discipleship Ministries.

Denman, who had a passion for sharing the gospel message, recognized the need for an organization that would support the church in the practice of evangelism in the spirit of John Wesley and established the foundation to provide that support, Klemann said.

The foundation’s flagship program is the E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism, which helps to ensure there is a professor of evangelism on faculty at every United Methodist seminary.

“We are keenly aware that in order to recruit and retain the most capable professors, funding is needed,” Klemann said.

Because of that, the foundation has partnerships with United Methodist seminaries and seminaries training leaders in the Wesleyan tradition to place E. Stanley Jones professors of evangelism on the faculties of 10 United Methodist seminaries in the U.S., as well as professors in Germany, Moscow, and Africa University.

Kurewa left Africa University to teach in Ohio, returning in 2000 to the Faculty of Theology.

Brown is news editor for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at newsdesk@umcom.org or 615-742-7400.

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