Recovering the original name and vision for Christian Education in the ancient African patriarchy, the Alexandria School of Theology (AST) is a multi-level, non-residential, multisite education system for theological training in the Anglican Province of Egypt, North Africa, Gambella and the Horn of Africa.
The AST consists of: i) St. Athanasius’ Seminary (Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt) which offers certificates, diplomas, a BTh and a MTh; ii) St. Cyprian’s Diocesan Theological College (Tunis, Tunisia) which offers diplomas and a BTh; iii) St. Frumentius’ Diocesan Theological College (Gambella, Ethiopia) which offers certificates and diplomas; iv) Menya Theological Extension Site (Menya, Egypt) which offers diplomas and a BTh; and v) Nuba Mountain Bible Institute (Cairo, Egypt) which offers a diploma in basic Bible literacy.
The AST vision is to teach, train and form lay leaders, ordinands and clergy of the province, members of the worldwide Anglican Communion and any other students who wish to learn of Christ with us, in theological, missional and leadership skills, with a focus on mission in a pluralistic context.
AST was established in Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt’s two largest cities, in 2005 because of the tremendous shortage of contextually trained and equipped workers in the Anglican Church, as well as other churches, to teach, counsel and meet the needs in a Muslim majority context, that could not be achieved by sending students to the West, because of the financial cost, as well as the very different context. The classes are taught in Arabic, mostly by well-qualified Egyptians, but also a few Westerners resident in Egypt, and scheduled to enable Christians to continue in their full-time ministry or secular work thereby allowing them to participate actively in their workplaces and communities, and apply the teaching.
The first students graduated with a Bachelor in Theology in 2009 and under the tutelage of faculty members, four began teaching on the programme whilst studying for a Masters in Biblical Studies. At this time, AST Cairo started receiving students from Menya, a city with a high concentration of Christians in Upper Egypt.
From 2011 to 2014, Egypt was in great turmoil and AST re-scheduled classes avoiding the demonstrations, curfews and power cuts! The number of students coming from Upper Egypt continued to increase and in 2015 we launched a programme of courses taught intensively. More recently, the province has bought land and is establishing an AST campus as well as outreach ministry in Upper Egypt.
During this time in Ethiopia, the province also opened St. Frumentius’ Theological College in Gambella to provide training for the current leadership and new lay and ordained leaders to serve the growing church. In 2018, AST launched the Bachelor in Theology Programme at the St. Cyprian Campus in Tunis and enrolled sixteen students from Algeria and Tunisia as well.
During the pandemic, AST has developed online delivery of courses by filming classes and uploading these and assignments onto an online platform as well as offering live classes on Zoom in conjunction with on-campus classes when viable.
Currently, AST is working on getting accredited by ‘The Middle East Association for Theological Education’, forming a ‘Christian and Islamic Centre of Studies’ as well as a ‘Study Tour’ offering, and having its own Masters programme in the long term.
Helen Fraser served in Egypt for 17 years under the auspices of the Church Mission Society, initially as PA to Bishop Mouneer Anis and then as the Development Officer for the Alexandria School of Theology and Funding Training Manager for EpiscoCare. In 2020 she moved back to England and is now development manager at Christ Church, Guildford.