United Theological College of the West Indies
What is the United Theological College of the West Indies and what are its ministries?
A chapel in Jamaica
The United Theological College of the West Indies
is an ecumenical seminary that trains candidates for the ministry for six major denominational groups (Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian, and United Church [Reformed]). Students come from all over the Caribbean region, mostly from the English-speaking countries but also from countries such as Haiti, Cuba, and Panama. Each year about 70 students are on campus engaged in primary theological education, and about 60 students are engaged in various graduate programs. UTCWI is affiliated with the University of the West Indies. Almost all of the 14 faculty members come from the Caribbean participating denominations, and the college plays an important role in providing theological leadership for a region in which Christianity is a powerful presence among the majority of the population.
Students at graduation
The United Theological College serves primarily the English-speaking Caribbean, which includes the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and Belize. Also included are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Turks and Caicos, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Montserrat. Non-English-speaking countries Haiti, Cuba, Suriname, and Panama send students to UTC as well. While the majority of the students are Jamaican, the college affirms its common Caribbean identity but also celebrates these national differences.How do the United Theological College of the West Indies and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America accompany one another in ministry?
Through the churchwide ELCA Global Mission unit, the ELCA relates to and is in bilateral relationship with over 80 companion churches and institutions. The ELCA Global Mission unit stewards a relationships with the United Theological College of the West Indies. In a region where Lutheranism is historically small, UTCWI provides the North American church with an opportunity to interact with Christians who are so close geographically to the U.S.A. but have a very different history and unique challenges.
Because the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guyana is one of the original participating denominations that support and send ministerial students to UTCWI, the ministry of the college is also part of the larger mutual accompaniment of the ELCA and the ELCG. One ELCA mission personnel is serving in Jamaica.
The ELCA provides a lecturer to UTCWI on behalf of the church in Guyana, provides funding
for the studies of Lutheran students, and gives an annual grant to the college. UTCWI has also provided theological education for Lutheran ministerial candidates from Haiti and Suriname.
This relationship is strengthened by its relationship, through the ELCA Companion Synods' Program, with the Florida-Bahamas' Synod.Jamaica and the Caribbean: the context in which the United Theological College of the West Indies serves
New Library Construction at United Theological College
Jamaica was among the first of the English-speaking Caribbean countries to gain independence. More than 2.7 million people live in this independent, constitutional parliamentary democracy. English is the official language; Jamaican Creole is rising in status and usage as the language of the general population. The ethnic population is more than 90% black. Almost two thirds are Protestant, with the majority belonging to some form of the Church of God. Seventh-Day Adventists follow in percentage, with other Pentecostals, Baptists, Anglicans, and other Protestant Christians following in that order. 2.6% of the population is Roman Catholic.
Division along race and class lines has made a sense of nation a central problem. Along with agriculture and bauxite mining, the tourist industry is one of the lucrative industries of the economy. A stagnant economy resulting in double-digit inflation, growing internal debt and high un- and under-employment continues to plague efforts to improve the economic situation for Jamaica. Crime and violence are the main problems occurring along with the drug trade in Jamaica. There are frequent police/drug gang clashes. Drug control is a difficult issue because many families depend on ganja (marijuana) production to supplement their incomes.
For up-to-date information on Jamaica, type “Jamaica" into an online search engine or visit: