Agnes Regina Murei Abuom was awarded an honorary doctorate degree at the 175th anniversary of VID Stavanger and the School of Mission and Theology. Dr. Abuom from Kenya is the first female and the first African ever elected to chair the World Council of Churches.
A doctorate degree rooted in missiology
Dr Agnes Abuom from Kenya has been active in church organizations in many different parts of Africa. She has a PhD in Missiology, which is one of the core academic areas of study at the School of Mission and Theology. Her doctorate work has a diaconal perspective with a particular emphasis on the role of NGOs in development work, and a firm focus on management and leadership through TAABCO, a consultancy firm that operates in the field of skills enhancement for civil society.
Rector Ingunn Moser at VID Specialized University considers this award particularly appropriate for the anniversary in Stavanger.
– She represents the School of Mission and Theology and VID’s academic profile brilliantly through her academic work, with a focus on mission and development work. Her work also undertakes a practical approach to diaconia and management. Through key positions in several ecclesiastical organizations, Abuom has shown how academic knowledge can be translated into practical action with a clear theological and diaconal approach.
Dr. Abuom was genuinely surprised when she was told that VID wanted to award her an honorary doctorate.
– This is a very humbling experience. In addition, an experience will make me more responsible. More responsible for the people that I work with.
It has been a while since Dr. Abuom worked dedicated with academics. However, once her tenure at the World Council of Churches is over she plans to spend her time writing.
– I have been away from academics for a while now as I have spent my time working in the trenches for social development. However, I will write about the stories I have heard, seen and experienced. If a story is not told, it simply does not exist. Unfortunately, knowledge in most African settings lies in the graveyard.
Unprecedented challenges to life in fullness
After the award ceremony, Dr. Abuom spoke on the challenges and prospects for both church and mission. Her focal theme is that life in fullness is a life lived in relationship with others and mutuality, which is a dilemma for the church and mission in the 21st century:
– The task of mission and church in the 21st century is to contribute to rediscovering what it means to be human amidst strong forces of dehumanization and degradation of life. It is time to re affirm the African “Ubuntu” idea of mutuality…I am because you are. You are because I am.
PhD from Uppsala University in Sweden
Agnes Abuom studied at the University of Nairobi. Because of political persecution, she later travelled to Sweden, where she earned her doctorate degree at Uppsala University. She then returned to Sudan and Zimbabwe, where she was involved in the refugee efforts of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
In 1989, she went home to Kenya, where she served a short prison sentence due to her political work. She then once again became involved in the Anglican Church’s development work. In 1999, Abuom was elected president of the African branch of WCC, and in 2013 she became the first female and the first African to be elected to chair the WCC.
Awarding honorary doctorates
VID may award honorary doctorates in line with Section 3-2 (5) of the Act relating to universities and university colleges: (5) An institution that has a right to award doctorates or corresponding degrees may in the same fields award honorary doctorates (doctor honoris causa) for important scientific or artistic contributions or outstanding work for the benefit of science or art.
By awarding honorary doctorates, VID wishes to highlight its disciplines and VID as a scientific, diaconal and internationally oriented institution.
This is the third time VID Specialized University awards an honorary doctoral degree.
Dr Agnes Abuom was nominated by the Centre of Mission and Global Studies and the Faculty of Theology, Diaconia and Leadership Studies at VID Specialized University.