Greetings from Prof Patrick Sookhdeo Greetings from the Global Institute for Leadership Development (GILD) and the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life (OCRPL). We are launching this newsletter to highlight our events and resources, as well as building and connecting those in our global community with one another. This newsletter is for those within our networks and partner networks across the Global South, such as theological educators, academics, students and church leaders.
This newsletter will contain updates of our work, highlight upcoming events, raise awareness of useful resources, and share stories of how our partners are overcoming obstacles and moving towards sustainable theological education. Considering the terrible impact it has had on theological education, this is especially important during this global pandemic of Covid-19 and further emphasises the need to transition to online education.
It’s our hope that this resource will serve and help you as we journey together for the furtherance of the Gospel and the strengthening of the Church.
If you have any comments or stories we can share, please contact us at

Past events: Workshops on Online Theological Education
Across the Global South, the pandemic has threatened theological institutions with new and unexpected challenges. GILD and OCRPL responded to these challenges by collaborating with networks and organisations from across Africa, Asia, and the Pacific to promote online theological education. Over the past few months, we have hosted Online Workshops for nearly 850 leaders and educators to explain how they could successfully adopt and adapt to an online format. The workshops were well received, with many attendees highlighting how helpful and important the sessions were for them. As one attendee wrote, “It was very informative and at the same time, challenging. The organizers are sensitive to the needs/ context of the majority world.” Not only were these workshops pertinent for this moment, but also they offered a unique space to bring together scholars, educators, and facilitators from all across the Global South. Our hope is that GILD and OCRPL can serve as a platform for continued collaboration and sharing of resources as we journey with one another.
You can read the full report on our website:

Guest Lectures
In a new venture from OCRPL, we have begun to host guest lectures from various subject experts that are free to attend for anyone interested. The series was launched on 17th September with an engaging session from Prof Patrick Sookhdeo from OCRPL and Barnabas Fund on the towering medieval Christian figure of Thomas Aquinas and his relevance for today’s world. In it he cited Aquinas’ reasoned method of responding to a problem and argued for its relevance in today’s pandemic-stricken world. (Prof Sookhdeo’s paper and a recording of this lecture are available for anyone interested.) We were also blessed last month with the unique opportunity of hearing Archbishop Eustathius Matta Roham of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch speak on the subject of Aramaic influence on the Quran. His expertise on the subject of early Christianity in the Middle East and deep historical analysis of evidence of Aramaic influence on the Quran and the history of early Islamic civilisation was immensely valuable to our PhD and MTh students who attended. He also emphasised the significant role that Muslims have played in the development of the world as scientific pioneers and acting as a bridge allowing scientific and philosophical knowledge and advancements to cross between the East and West. (The Archbishop’s paper on the subject and a recording of the lecture are available at your request.)

Upcoming Events: Transformational Theology Webinar in Asia-Pacific-East Europe, 26th November 
What kind of theology and theological education is needed to transform individuals and communities in Asia, the Pacific, and East Europe? This upcoming webinar hosted by OCRPL, GILD, and partner networks to provide the space for theological leaders from across Asia, the Pacific, and East Europe to share their hypotheses in a conversational academic setting. This event will be hosted via Zoom on 26th November from 13:00-17:00 Myanmar Time (GMT+6:30). If you are a theological leader and/or educator in these regions you are most welcome to join us. Please fill out the form at this link to register your place: If you would like to present a paper at the event, please submit your abstract to and we will be in touch with further details. 
Updates: The Shepherd’s Academy
We are excited to announce that The Shepherd’s Academy is developing a Bachelor of Ministry programme for leaders and aspiring leaders within the Church who have no formal theological training. This degree will be offered as an online ‘blended learning’ programme in order to keep fees low and maintain a wide reach. The programme is based on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as presented in the Gospels, which means it will emphasise the transformative and application aspects of learning. The aim of the programme is to equip church leaders to do ministry in, for and through their contexts by offering courses which are contextually, theologically, and practically relevant. We are currently working with subject experts and theologians from across the Global South to develop these courses. If you wish to contribute your expertise to this programme, please contact

PhD Stellenbosch/Pretoria (Ongoing PhD Seminar) 
OCRPL’s mission statement declares our intention to equip religious communities, particularly in the non-Western world, in their public witness through research in public policy and its relation to religion and through training in research, advocacy and engagement in the public sphere. Our PhD courses in collaboration with the Universities of Stellenbosch and Pretoria are an example of how we practically engage in that objective. Currently there are46 students studying for their PhD through OCRPL from all over the world and this number is expected to expand considerably at the next intake of students. These PhDs are all taught through distance learning which OCRPL has been utilising for many years, meaning that we have been in an ideal position not only to continue functioning but even to flourish and expand during the Covid-19 pandemic. Because we are offering this course in association with other institutions we are able to offer unparalleled supervisor interaction and support. Each student has two supervisors to support them, one from OCRPL and the other from the accrediting university. Because we are offering this course in association with other institutions we are able to offer unparalleled supervisor interaction and support. Each student has 2 supervisors to support them, one from OCRPL and the other from the accrediting university.

MTh Pretoria/Cameroon
This year the University of Pretoria in South Africa and the University Institute for International Development in Cameroon have joined with us to offer a Masters in Theology specialising in Islam and Christian-Muslim relations. More than 30 students, the majority from Africa have embarked on these courses and are now several months into their studies. Through these MTh courses we hope to support the leadership of the church and the Christian community as a whole by equipping students with a deep knowledge of Islam and the Muslim world enabling them to combat disinformation and promote peace between divided peoples.
Resources Pewsey Library 
An exciting benefit of being a GILD member is access to the GILD-ISIC library. This resource will give you access to e-journals and e-books as well as the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity (ISIC) library catalogue of 93,000+ books. These resources are available to GILD members who are faculty staff or research students. If you qualify for access, please contact

A Learning Management System (LMS) Made For You 
A pressing need, which emerged following our workshops in Asia and Africa, was for a low-cost Learning Management System (LMS) which could facilitate online learning. In response, we have developed an affordable LMS (starting from $50 per institution) which has the capability to host all your institution’s online learning, including lectures, classes, reading material, assessments, and more. This is available to launch immediately. If you would like to find out more regarding fees, set-up, or how you could integrate this into your institution, please contact us at
Introduction to the OCRPL Faculty Very Rev Prof Patrick Sookhdeo (Executive Director)
Patrick Sookhdeo has a PhD from London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies and is a widely acknowledged authority on Islam and security issues. He has served as an advisor to government, business and the media, especially on contemporary Islamist terrorism, and has lectured at various conferences on security and terrorism in the UK and in the USA.

Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (Emeritus Director)
Canon Dr Vinay Samuel completed his graduate studies at the University of Cambridge. Alongside his extensive academic work in holistic mission, he has been the General Secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion and the secretary of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Mission Theologians. He co-founded the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life with Canon Dr. Chris Sugden.

Canon Dr Joshva John (Assistant Director and Co-Dean) 
Canon Dr Joshva John taught at the Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education Birmingham, the UK as a tutor of World Christianity and Global Mission and at the United Theological College, Bangalore as an Associate Professor and Chair in the Gospel, Culture and Communication department. He is the Co-Dean of OCRPL.

Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Co-Dean)
Canon Dr Chris Sugden holds degrees in Classics and Theology from Oxford University, a Masters on a Christian approach to violence and revolution from the University of Nottingham and a PhD on Christian Social Ministry in India and Indonesia. In 2010 with Canon Dr Samuel Vinay he co-founded the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.

Dr Anna Bekele
Anna Bekele received her PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and was a Robert Bosch Fellow at Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs). After that she worked as Executive Director of the Westminster Institute in the US.

Dr Anwar M. Berhe
Dr Berhe completed his doctoral degree in Islamic studies at the Melbourne School of Theology in Australia and is the Academic Dean for undergraduate studies at the Evangelical Theological College at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dr Sara Afshari
Originally from Iran, Sara Afshari holds a PhD in Media Religion and Culture from the University of Edinburgh and several BA and MA degrees in the areas of literature, theology, media and communication, management, women’s development studies and adult education. She is co-founder and former Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS.

Ven. Dr. Julius Adekoya
Ven. Dr. Julius Adekoya has a PhD in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations and has taught African Indigenous Religions, Christianity and Islam for over twenty years at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He is a part-time lecturer with OCRPL.

Prof Dr Moussa Bongoyok
Prof Dr Moussa Bongoyok earned his PhD in intercultural Studies at Fuller Graduate School with a specialization in Islamic studies and is the current President of Institut Universitaire de Développement International (IUDI), a university based in Cameroon but providing online education to both French- and English-speaking students from 18 nations.

Dr Prasad Phillips
Prasad Phillips completed his graduate and postgraduate degree in Philosophy from Madras University and later completed a Bachelor of Divinity and a MTh in Missiology from Serampore University in India and has a doctorate from the University of Edinburgh; currently he serves as the Coordinator for Global Institute for Leadership Development (GILD) and graduate studies in Oxford Centre for Religion and Public life (OCRPL).

Dr Wenjuan (Joyce) Zhao
Joyce is an academic researcher of the OCRPL based in Pewsey, UK. Prior to this appointment, she separately conducted research at Duke University, in the US, and worked at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Dr Jose Abraham
Jose completed his Doctor of Philosophy at McGill University and is currently an associate professor of Islamic Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary as well as a lecturer with OCRPL.

Andre Lombard
Andre graduated from the University of Kwazulu-Natal with a degree in education and education management and currently works as Academic Registrar for OCRPL.

Joshua Nurmombe-Pike
Joshua graduated from Cambridge University with a MPhil in New Testament and Early Christianity and currently works as a Research Coordinator for OCRPL.

Nathanael Cullis
Nathanael graduated from the University of Exeter with an undergraduate degree in politics and international relations and currently works as a Research Coordinator for OCRPL.