Sabah Theological Seminary Expansion Project
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Proposed Multi Purpose Hall For
Sabah Theological Seminary, Signal Hill, Kota Kinabalu
Sabah Theological Seminary (STS), the very first theological college in Sabah, East Malaysia, was established in January 1988. An interdenominational Christian organisation, it became a reality through the participation of all the Protestant local churches namely, Basel Christian Church of Malaysia, Protestant Church in Sabah, Anglican Church in Sabah, Anglican Church of Sarawak, Methodist Church of Malaysia, Grace Chapel, Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB), Sabah Evangelical Mission and the Lutheran Church in Malaysia.
The seminary serves as both a spiritual and an academic training centre to provide opportunities and facilities for Malaysians particularly Sabahans of different cultural background to be trained locally as pastors and church leaders up to degree and post-graduate level. This enables the graduates to contribute more effectively in the socio-economic development of the rural community in which they serve in addition to their pastoral duties.
STS also pioneers the theological education in the national language Bahasa Malaysia and provides agricultural training for our students. From the very beginning the seminary puts itself in a strategic po s i ti on by bringing students of different races to study and live under one roof. Here they will learn to appreciate and accept each other’s culture and tradition. Hence, it helps to eliminate the preconceived prejudices rooted in the attitudes of the students. In view of the importance of our national language in nation building and unity, Bahasa Malaysia was chosen as the medium of instruction in STS. Thus far, it is the only seminary in Malaysia that uses the national language as its main medium of instruction. The seminary carries the great responsibility of training a new generation of church leaders who are proficient in the national language.
To date, we have students from various cultural and denominational backgrounds, from Sabah, Sarawak and other states of Malaysia and even from China, Korea, Myanmar, U.S.A., Hong Kong and Indonesia. We are proud that the seminary in a short span of 20 years has attained a high level of academic excellence well known even beyond Sabah and all academic programmes of study have been accredited by ATESEA/SEAGST (Association of Theological Education of Southeast Asia & Southeast Asia Graduate School of Theology). ATESEA/SEAGST is an association of 105 member schools including theological seminaries and Christian universities all over Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
The Present Student & Faculty Situation
The past few years have seen a steady increase in students’ enrolment especially in the response from overseas. In 2007, the record of registered students stood at 217, inclusive of full-time, part-time and special students. 2008 saw an increase to 244 registered students. Out of this, 10% comes from overseas; Brunei, China, Korea, Myanmar and USA. Together with local students, mainly from Sabah and Sarawak, the students and lecturers community of the seminary is fast becoming an interdenominational (over twenty denominations), multi-racial and international institute.
In addition, STS has also established off-campus training centres for lay leaders around Sabah; and recently, extended to neighbouring state of Sarawak and country of Brunei. Students registered under this programmes come up to around 500 every year. Many lay Christians have, through this programme, obtained Certificates or even Diplomas in Church Ministry. Some of these certificate holders have taken up the challenge to upgrade to a degree course at STS.
In 2007, forty-four students graduated, mainly in the B. Th. and the Master of Divinity level.
The present STS faculty line-up is rated one of the top in the Asian region. We thank God for his provision in bringing more energetic and experienced personnel to join our faculty force. This year we have twenty-two full-time, five visiting and eight part-time lecturers. Out of these thirty-five, fifteen are holders of PhD/D.Theol degree, a condition making STS eligible to conduct doctorate research programmes. Presently, the highest post-graduate programme that STS offers is the M.Theol degree and in cooperation and partnership with other seminaries in the region, is offering doctorate programme, thus paving the way for STS to independently conduct Doctorate degree in Ministry programme in a year’s time.
The Present Facilities
Since the founding of the Seminary twenty years ago, STS has seen immense development, both in hardware and software. This is evident in the completion of the Administration Building housing the offices, library, conference room and classrooms; the two blocks of apartments for the faculty, comprising 20 family units; and the three student hostel blocks including a main block that can accommodate 150 students, and two other blocks of 12 family units for the married students with large families. An eighty-three year-old chapel had a facelift renovation two years ago.
Positioning for the Future and the Need
A. Expansion of Programmes of Study
To meet the need of the church and the society, the faculty in its retreat 2 years ago had deliberated on the need for strategic planning and strategic positioning of STS as a major theological institution in the future. The following proposals were made and endorsed by the STS Board of Governors.
For the programmes of studies, the faculty proposed to increase an English, Counselling, Social Concern and Communication Departments.
Further proposed was the integration of the seminary into a Christian University College by having twinning programmes with recognised universities in areas such as social works, culture and religion, inter-cultural dialogue and so on.
B. The proposed Academic students in 2010:
Bahasa Malaysia Department 120
Chinese Department 120
English Department 80
Postgraduate Department 80
C. Expansion of Infrastructure Development
With the expansion of various study programmes, the infrastructure has to cope with the increasing number of users, including international scholars and students. This naturally means that additional facilities are needed.
Thus, the decision of STS for an additional Multi-purpose Education Centre to be built was mooted. This building will not only be able to meet the future needs for more space, but also will allow greater future development.
The proposed Multi-purpose Education Centre will consist of the following facilities:
Accommodation for lecturers and visiting scholars
Classrooms for Counselling, Social Concern and Communication Departments
Double Storey Library with archives & Christian Education Resource Centre
Facilities for differently-able people
An auditorium with seating capacity of 1,000
D. Progress of the Construction of the Multi-purpose Education Centre.
The enormous mission in building the Multi-purpose Education Centre took off in March 2007. This project is divided into three phases:-
Phase 1 & 2 (i.e. Foundation and Piling Work) were completed recently and expenditure was RM2.5 million.
Phase 3 (i.e. construction of the superstructure) is to commence immediately. Construction cost for the final phase is around RM 14 million.
The original estimated total cost of RM12 million for this Educational Centre two years ago has since escalated to RM16.5 million, due to drastic increase in cost of construction material. Efforts to raise funds started in 2006 and to date the Building Committee managed to raise RM10 million, but we still face a shortfall of RM6.5 million. But by God’s grace through generous help from local partners as well as friends from all over the world, I am certain we will overcome.
Hence, this is our invitation to all churches and Christian leaders,
‘Let us together give thanks and work hand in hand as one in Christ to complete this Nehemiah project. May God’s name be glorified.’
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