Successful Extension School in South America

CHALLENGE OF A WORLD TASK: Successful Extension School in South America

An overview of Adventist schools in South America

The Field Extension School of our Theo logical Seminary, recently held for the South American Division, is now history and successful history, according to participants and observers. It was a great occasion for South America, and was the result of long and careful planning by the division officers and committee. It was operated from December 5, 1949, to January 31, 1950, at our academy near Montevideo, Uruguay (Institute Adventista del Uruguay) ; and eighty-one students applied themselves with diligence, and acquit ted themselves with credit, and some even with distinction. This student group included President Robert R. Figuhr of the division, Austral Union President Alfredo Aeschlimann, and eight local presidents from various fields scattered over the division. Such administration support and participation is the way it should be. This assured the best results and intelligent later application of its counsels and instruction.

The classes were conducted in two sections, the larger group being the Spanish-speaking section from Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, and Uruguay; and the smaller group, the Portuguese section from the various conferences comprising Brazil. Thus the entire division was covered in representation. South America is surely a melting pot of nationalities, as our student group at tested Spanish, Portuguese German, Italian, French, Swedish, Swiss, Arabic, Armenian, Japanese, Rumanian, Egyptian, and American. Most, though not all, were second-generation citizens of the South American countries.

This was the heyday of the pastors, evangelists, Bible teachers, and editors. And they made the most of it. Departmental men, who periodically have their conventions, were not participants. Among those present were experienced ordained ministers. Others were still in the licensed minister stage. Thus maturity was wisely blended with youthful enthusiasm. Again some came from the great cities, like Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, and Montevideo. Others were from raw mission territory the great stretches of the Amazon and the Andean highlands of Peru and Ecuador and around Lake Titicaca. So there was a com mingling of city pastors, rural evangelists, and pioneer missionaries. And a more enthusiastic and grateful group of men could scarcely be found anywhere. Musicians of conspicuous ability pointed up the picture. Study the faces in the accompanying pictures. They are our brethren in the Advent ministry.

Experienced Walter Schubert, Ministerial Association secretary for South America, was the tireless assistant director and liaison officer. He was also chairman of the daily round table, which proved to be highly profitable. And the teaching staff of three from the parent Semi nary at Washington, D.C., taught in the fields of their specialization Frank H. Yost, director, conducting his Sabbath-Sunday course as distinct Bible and history classes; R. A. Anderson, on evangelistic leadership and pastoral techniques, broadened so as to be intensely practical; and L. E. Froom, on the progressive development of prophetic interpretation through the centuries, likewise a blend of church history background and of guiding prophetic ex position. They proved to be a very congenial team,' pulling strongly together for common aims and accomplishments, especially enjoying the daily devotional and prayer group meetings together.

The classes were all conducted through interpreters Spanish and Portuguese which was a new venture in seminary teaching, but which proved to be entirely feasible, thanks to the skill, sympathetic enthusiasm, and experience of the translators. The daily chapel period was conducted in Spanish, which was understood by both language groups. Separate classes, however, and separate syllabuses in the two languages were essential for the teaching phase. It was a real school with a closely knit schedule, thorough examinations, and a graduation service at its close, with J. L. McElhany as speaker. This service will be described in next month's issue of THE MINISTRY by Dr. Yost. The spiritual emphasis and the uplifting of Christ in all our teaching and preaching were markedly in the forefront in classroom, chapel, Sabbath services, and devotional group meetings. This institute was distinctly Christian education, specifically adapted and applied to Seventh-day Adventist workers' needs. Profiting by the initial venture in Britain two summers ago, the leaders made many strides forward in effective service to the field and in teaching methods.

Many of these men who attended the classes could never get to the United States. Though the teaching teams will no doubt differ in personnel in each succeeding- school, more divisional extension schools should follow in days to come, and will prove highly profitable in fostering solid ministerial growth and soul-winning advance, if kept on the highly practical level on which they have started. Here are some paragraphs penciled as the men were assembling, which give a bit of the human-interest side:

"Sweet to hear and pleasant to see was the large truckload of national workers from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Bolivia transported to the school just after arriving in Montevideo by plane, boat, train, and bus. Down the highway they came, lustily singing Advent hymns in happy anticipation of eight weeks of intensive study and joyous fellowship in the extension school. The president of the division is here, inspiring with his presence, participation, and moral support. That is ideal. Walter Schubert, dynamic Ministerial Association secretary for the division, is also here. And the instructors from North America have arrived, eager for the opportunity of sharing with these men and leading them in study.

"Matters are well organized. The chapel exercises are all assigned for the term. Room assignments are on the basis of commingling the brethren from the various conferences and countries so as to make new acquaintances and form new and lasting friendships, and to foster that oneness that is both the characteristic and the ideal of this movement. Meals are served on the cafeteria plan. We are all set to go.

"Today is registration day, with distribution of syllabuses complete sets in Spanish arid Portuguese. The familiar prophetic interpretation charts have been translated into Spanish and beautifully printed. Tomorrow the class sessions will begin, and we will be fully under way. Mimeographed sheets for guidance give the daily schedule, which is a close one, and the schedule of chapel periods and general assemblies. It is good to be here."

The daily program was indeed a full but di versified one, with provision for devotional exercises and physical recreation, as well as for mental and spiritual development. Here is the schedule in abbreviated form, running from Sunday through Thursday.

Early morning Study, devotions, and breakfast

 8:00- 9:05 Paralleling classes  in Spanishand Portuguese 

9:10- 9:55 Chapel

10:00-10:15 Devotional period by groups 

10:20-11:25 Classes Dinner

14:30-15:25 Round table 

15:30-16 :25 Classes 

16:45-17:15 Consultation hour Evening Supper, vespers, and study

A diversified series of chapel talks gave a balanced emphasis on pertinent but more general themes. These were largely by the faculty members. Thursday night was popular lecture or picture night. Friday was a study day, with provision for necessary shopping. The Friday night devotional service was in the charge of the students. The Sabbath morning service was blended with that of the local church. The Missionary, Volunteer meeting in the afternoon was conducted by the local leaders of the Institute Missionary Volunteer -Society, and comprised a continuing series of moving mission field recitals by our national missionaries in the interior and the highlands, where the challenge of stark paganism and the weight of Catholic bigotry meet our men. at every turn. These were hours long to be remembered. Sundown worship brought each Sabbath to a close and terminated the week. Teams went out each Sabbath to speak to the surrounding churches, and the teachers had appointments every week end, usually several meetings each.

The eagerness with which these men of South America studied, took notes, asked questions, and progressed from day to day was a joy to behold. Wholesome, hearty laughter and a sense of humor frequently gave evidence of balance. The way in which our national minis try is fast developing in carrying the load of our denominational work in this great division attests the wisdom of the divisional administration policy, and augurs well for the future. Our union and local conferences and missions, as well as our colleges and publishing houses are now largely manned by nationals, trained in our schools, just as they should be.

South America is a continent of appalling need and of well-nigh limitless opportunities. It is a land of tremendous contrasts the con trolling classes highly educated and wealthy, and the masses ignorant, poverty stricken, and backward. It presents the typical fruitage of four centuries of Catholic clergy domination in religion and education. In this land of tremendous size and vast natural resources, the people respond to the call of the Advent heralds, when effectively given, and become fine Adventists. Here are a few paragraphs penned just before one of the teachers left South America:

"It is a heart-warming experience to have groups of men of other lands and racial back grounds join hands and come to you, after all examinations are over and all grades determined, to tell of their confidence in you, their Christian love for you, their oneness with you in the prosecution of a world mission and movement, of which we are all inseparable partners. There is a oneness, evidenced here, that is greater and more lasting than any formal declaration of loyalty that might be made. It is deeper and more abiding than any vote that might be taken. And we must indeed stand together as men from every land for the united prosecution of a world task. We must all advance together.

"It is heartening when sister divisions over seas come of age, when national workers can take over increasingly the responsibilities of leadership and financial maintenance. That was the apostolic way and ideal. These workers .must, in time, be able to carry on the mission program in less-favored sections. Those that are strong must help to bear the burdens of the weak, and sustain those less favored or advanced. That is the test of maturity."

Such contacts as this extension school bind the sisterhood of divisions together as no isolated visits can do. They accomplish far more than giving strong scholastic boost to such workers. While they do that they also enlarge and clarify vision. They give a new meaning to life and service in this cause. They redirect the emphasis. Yes, they definitely hasten the finishing of our task. They create a divine dissatisfaction with a low standard, moderate attainments, and meager results. They create a sense of kinship with all Advent believers and workers everywhere and with our headquarters leadership. They tie us together with cords of affection and bonds of love. They help to make us one and indivisible.

Special aspects and features will be reported separately by Dr. Yost, Elder Anderson, and Pastor Schubert.



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May 1950

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