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Whitworth to host Africa Symposium for Spokane community April 24

April 7, 2010
Conference aims to help Spokane churches, nonprofits work more effectively in Africa

For the first time, Whitworth University's Africa Initiative will host a one-day conference on effective missions to Africa for the Spokane community on Saturday, April 24, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Spokane-area churches, nonprofits and individuals are invited to join a panel of distinguished speakers, professors and mission agencies in considering strategies for mission engagement and evaluating implications of mission work in Africa. For more information and to register, visit, call (509) 777-3449, or send an e-mail to

During the conference, seminars will be held in the Seeley-Mudd Chapel and Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Cost is $10 per person for early registration (on or before April 16) and $15 per person for late registration (April 17-21). Students will be admitted free, but they must register.

More than 100 organizations in Spokane are currently involved in missions, development work, relief aid and other efforts in Africa. Some of their main areas of concern include AIDS, education, the environment, evangelism, and indigenous leadership. The symposium will cover those topics and will address questions such as how to think strategically about making a difference in Africa, how to supply the resources and other aid that Africa really needs, and how to direct efforts that will make a lasting difference on the continent rather than simply build its dependence on the West.

"Too often, when we think of Africa, all that comes to mind is a continent in need of our help; and out of a variety of motives, Westerners are eager to respond," says John Yoder, a professor of political science at Whitworth. "During this symposium, we want to think about outreach efforts in Africa – how we can be most effective, how we can best respond to the deepest needs of Africa, and how we can work with Africans as empowered and equal partners."

During the conference, a devotional will be given by Gideon Maghina, a Lutheran bishop from Tanzania who is currently working with Radio Ministry Moshi, helping Radio Voice of the Gospel to communicate the gospel to the people of that country (update: Maghina will be unable to attend the symposium due to the cancellation of his flight from London as a result of the ash from the Icelandic volcano eruption). Larry Probus, senior vice president and C.F.O. of World Vision, will conduct a plenary session on management accountability and will share how navigating the balance between accountability and stewardship has helped spur the growth of World Vision's ministry worldwide. The conference also will feature a seminar on community transformation and microfinance by Mike Stemm, co-founder of New Covenant Foundation, a thriving nonprofit in Ethiopia; a seminar on AIDS and orphans by Dr. Mike Nash and Robin Nash, a Spokane couple who are missionaries to South Africa; a seminar on short-term missions by Bob Savage, director of Global Learning Exchange at Spokane-based Partners International; and a seminar on dependency and cross-cultural communications by Whitworth Assistant Professor of Theology Moses Pulei and Kent McDonald, a theology lecturer at Whitworth and a regional trainer for Young Life.

"So many organizations in Spokane are involved in Africa, and more than 5,000 African refugees have come to this region, so we wanted to find a way in which Whitworth can serve the community by bringing them together to talk about how they can engage more effectively both with Africans in Africa and with those who are here," says Pulei, who is a member of the Maasai tribe of East Africa. "And while we want to educate people about the ways they can help Africa, we also want them to see what Africa has to offer us. Africans have a deep sense of community and a strong commitment to sustainable living, and they have much to teach us in these areas."

Whitworth's Africa Initiative, which was established in 2005, is designed to educate Americans about Africa and to offer Whitworth's resources to Africa. The initiative brings African educational, development and religious leaders to Whitworth so that students, faculty and people in the Spokane region can gain first-hand knowledge of African perspectives. In addition, the program aims to help equip Whitworth students to become global Christians through cross-cultural visits, pastoral training, internships and other exchanges that involve travel, study and intense dialogue.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Moses Pulei, assistant professor of theology, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3385 or

John Yoder, professor of political science, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4432 or

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or