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Nazarene Theological Seminary of Cuba held a graduation ceremony last month for five master's students, all of whom completed the Master's of Religion program with an emphasis in the mission of the church. This is a program of Nazarene Seminary of the Americas (SENDAS) in San Jose, Costa Rica. The graduates are all pastors from different zones in Cuba: Pinar del Rio, Havana, and Holguin.
The graduation speaker was the general superintendent in jurisdiction for the Church of the Nazarene's Mesoamerica Region, Jesse C. Middendorf, who, in addition to preaching the graduation message, also presided over the Cuban district assembly.
The secretary of the Bible Commission of Cuba was in attendance to give to each graduate a donation of theological books to help their ministries.
Jorge Baños, the academic vice president for SENDAS, oversaw the five students' final graduation projects. He said working with these students was very different from working with students from other countries.
The Cuban students had difficulties completing their research projects. The main difficulty was the lack of theological texts and articles on the island. Some of the students live nearly 1,000 kilometers (more than 620 miles) from the seminary, making a trip to use the library nearly impossible. Additionally, only one of the five students had an email account. The other four students had to use a friend's or church member's email account to send in their assignments. One student had to travel 30 kilometers (18 miles) to find a person who could help them submit their work.
"It was a unique experience working with these students, and is was very much worth the effort that each one of the students gave, because on the 1st of February we were witnesses that these five students from the Church of the Nazarene in Cuba received their post graduate diplomas," Baños said.
Beginning this year, SENDAS, in conjunction with the Theological Seminary in Cuba, will be incorporating another new program in the area of theological education: a licensed degree in church resources with an emphasis in pastoral studies.
--Nazarene Seminary of the Americas