On October 22, 2022, Africa University (AU) marked their 30th anniversary with much celebration and a contingent of Hoosier United Methodists in attendance. Bishop Julius C. Trimble and Conference Superintendents Rev. Dr. Santa Maiko, Rev. In Suk Peebles, Rev.
Mitch Gieselman, and Rev. Russ Abel traveled to The United Methodist related institution located in Mutare, Zimbabwe, to honor the impact of AU.
Bishop Trimble, who serves on the AU Board of Directors, said, “AU is a shining example of what a world-wide Connectional Church called United Methodist can accomplish. I first stepped on the ground where AU is in 1991. A big sign declared, ‘Future site of AU.’ Thirty years later, this United Methodist, world-class university is educating students from all across Africa. They now boast over 10,000 graduates with leaders serving across the globe. Praise be to God!”
When the university first launched in 1992, 40 students were enrolled studying agriculture and divinity. Today, there are 65 academic programs with over 3,000 students enrolled.
Rev. Russ said, “I was inspired by the high academic standards and the multiple paths of study. I knew that Africa University was a full university offering many options, but I wasn’t prepared for the breadth of that, nor for the hope I felt as I heard students talking about studying law, agriculture, nursing, and theology.
The Indiana Conference has longstanding ties of support and kinship with AU. The Conference fundraised and built a dorm for female students and funded a vehicle bridge over the ravine that splits the 1,545 acre campus.
“The Indiana Conference has been a huge supporter of Africa University from the beginning. Many of our churches funded scholarships for Africa University students over the past 30 years. Dozens of delegations of Hoosier Methodists have taken computers and supplies on their visits to Africa University. Many thanks to you all for your mission trips to Africa University, ongoing monetary support, and prayers of goodwill,” said Rev. In Suk.
At the 30th anniversary celebration, AU also marked the inauguration of its fifth Vice Chancellor, the Rev.
Dr. Peter Mageto, who is the brother of Rev. Dr. Santa Maiko, Conference Superintendent for the North Central District.
“I was very blessed to be part of this milestone event,” said Rev. Santa. “Known as ‘The School of Dreams in the Valley of Hope,’ Africa University attracts many first-generation college applicants. These prospective students’ circumstances and stories vary-some are orphaned, displaced by catastrophic weather events and conflict, or have parents in occupations that don’t pay well enough to fund a college education. We want these deserving students to achieve their academic dreams and go back to their countries around Africa to make a difference.”
“I have never been prouder to be United Methodist than when I look across the beautiful Africa University campus with mountains in the backdrop and students from across the continent learning together.”
Fittingly, at the celebration on October 22, the AU choir danced and sang a resounding chorus of the anthem, “The Dream.
Prior to the celebration, Bishop Trimble shared the dream of establishing a scholarship fund for AU. Through much prayer, Rev. Mitch Gieselman and Rev. Tammy Gieselman had landed on a number to contribute that was both significant and sacrificial for them. Going to the university, however, changed things. They were so struck by the experience that they upped their donation, many times over.
“There are many reasons why I am, and will remain, a United Methodist. But if the only reason were that we have Africa University, it would be enough,” Rev. Mitch said.
Several Conference Superintendents remarked how the trip was a powerful reminder of the Connectional identity of The United Methodist Church. Rev. Russ said, “The Connectional system is so much more than conferences and agencies. It’s about making disciples and transforming the world. When you come face to face with a world being transformed, you cannot help but be inspired. Africa University is doing just that and providing inspiration as it does so.”
Rev. In Suk echoed that enthusiasm and said, “No words can adequately express the fervor and excitement of the occasion. Everything about Africa University reminded me of the passion of the UMC mission to educate the young anywhere and everywhere, both locally and globally, where the Cross and Flame is strong, alive, and missionally impacting.”
In celebration of 40 years of pastoral ministry Bishop Trimble and First Lady Racelder Grandberry-Trimble invited Hoosier United Methodists to keep the dream alive with AU through raising awareness and a minimum of $300,000 to annually fund AU students.
He said, “I have never been prouder to be United Methodist than when I look across the beautiful Africa University campus with mountains in the backdrop and students from across the continent learning together.
Every United Methodist in Indiana has supported Africa University. Africa University, its students, faculty, staff, and impact are near and dear to First Lady and my hearts. Won’t you join us as we make a lasting impact as we invest in the lives of students around the world through an endowed scholarship?”
Though AU only began in 1992, the dream of it dates back to 1898. The late Bishop Joseph Crane Hartzell stood on Chiremba Mountain above Old Mutare and pictured the young people of Africa coming together for education and training to lead and impact Africa.
That dream is alive and well in the hearts of United Methodists around the world, and all are invited to help keep that dream alive.