Perhaps it is not uncommon for two siblings to graduate at the same time, but things become a bit unusual when the age difference between the two is 14 Years!
Saad Gaber and Maurice Gaber grew up in the Upper Egyptian village of Daqouf, in a family of 5 children, with Saad the eldest and Maurice the youngest (three sisters in between). At the 2017 ETSC Graduation, in the beginning of June, both will be awarded M.Div degrees. Looking at them you can see the family likeness, and certainly both of them are very musical, with Saad playing the accordion at Chapel services, while Maurice is often on the keyboard or piano.
Their stories, however, are quite different.
Saad, a graduate in Media and Communication, had served as a lay pastor for a number of years. The Synod of the Nile had been conscious of the number of congregations without pastors, so set up a scheme whereby people could study at the Seminary for 6 months and then serve in these smaller congregations. Saad was one of those who came forward.
He studied in 2006 and then served in three successive congregations, building each of them up so that they could be given an ordained pastor. As a lay pastor, Saad could do most things, but could not administer the sacraments, nor could he be effectively involved in decision-making in the wider church. He was also conscious that he wanted to study more about subjects such as counselling, and to be ordained. As such, he applied to join the ordination track M.D. programme.
After graduation, Saad will become a Pastor in the almost entirely Christian village of El Asaya near Assiut. There hasn’t been a pastor there for three years, and Saad has lots of ideas, but wisely says that only once he starts work, and assesses the situation, will he will know the way forward. Saad is married to Teresa.
Maurice, his younger brother, is 29, extremely personable, and confident. He is in charge of the chapel services at the Seminary and is also the designated student photographer at any of the Seminary events. Like many young men in Egypt he was conscripted into the armed forces, and for Maurice this meant the Air Force.
He studied Art Media at Minya University, though he admits that the course concentrated purely on theory. He was therefore delighted to have his second year internship with Media Arts for Development, a Christian Arts organization involved in things like film-making, where he could see the practical application of all the things he had learned in his bachelor’s degree.
For his 3rd year internship he was in a small congregation which had been without a pastor for several years in the old Pharaonic town of Armant, near Luxor, where he used his musical gifts to attract young people to the church. He has thoroughly enjoyed his four years at ETSC and especially the greater insight it has given him into Theology and Pastoral Care. He wrote his research paper on Demon Possession, and he will travel to the Netherlands in the autumn for a three month programme to develop this research.
Maurice is very much looking forward to being the pastor of Karara congregation near Minya, where the Evangelical Church is the only Christian presence in an otherwise Muslim village.
Both Saad and Maurice have benefited enormously from having each other about at Seminary. The family members are understandably very proud of both of them and will all be there supporting them at Graduation.