Crafting Lutheran Pastors in Tanzania: Perceptions of Theological Education and Formation in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania

  • Date:
  • Location: Sal IV, Universitetshuset, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala
  • Doctoral student: Habib Zeiler, Johannes
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Missionsvetenskap
  • Contact person: Habib Zeiler, Johannes
  • Disputation


The quest for theological education is embedded in the history of the churches in sub-Saharan Africa and is, at the same time, inherently linked to how the churches continue to evolve and shift in character over time. It relates to the self-understanding of the churches and their role in society, including their academic and pastoral obligations to adequately educate and train leaders to work in the localities. With its estimated 6.5 million members, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) is today one of the largest Lutheran churches in the world. The role and impact of institutions for theological education are high on the agenda in the ELCT, not least as the various educational institutions for ministerial training are often seen as important means in the processes of theologising and strategising for the future.

This qualitative study draws heavily upon interviews with Lutheran bishops and theological educators in Tanzania, and identifies leading motives and ideas behind their current engagements in the field of ministerial studies. More specifically, it shows how the informants reflect upon, argue about and negotiate their perceptions of higher theological education. It demonstrates by what means, techniques, and practices they claim to govern, guide, and form the students in theology. Formal ministerial studies are not carried out in a vacuum but in and through certain institutions, appropriately designed to serve their purposes. In order to gain academic accreditation, institutional and theological recognition, and to oversee the processes of quality assurance, the ELCT cultivates its links with relevant actors and institutions in Tanzanian society. Even the global networks and connections, such as other churches and missionary organisations abroad, play a significant role in this regard.

Drawing inspiration from governmentality studies and the notion of governmentality, this study focuses on ‘how’ questions; it examines how the interviewees think about governing, and how they calculate, strategise, or respond to certain problems linked to the multiple forms and models of theological training. As such, the study focuses on how government operates, and examines what claims, hopes, and visions the informants have in mind when educating a new generation of clergy in a rapidly changing society.