The former director of the United Evangelical Mission, Peter Sandner (87) received, in recognition of his role in the internationalisation of the United Evangelical Mission, the degree of honorary doctorate in Theology from the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs (ULPGL, University of Goma in D.R Kongo) on the 2 November 2015.
As Peter Sandner was not able to accept the certificate from the director of the University personally, John Wesley Kabango, head of the African department of the UEM, handed over the award to him – as well as a 100 US Dollar Bill. With it Sandner should purchase a goat. For every important event a goat is butchered in Congo, it is a tradition. In Goma a goat had already been killed and a big banquet had been organised in his honour, Sandner said.
The former missionary director was visibly moved by the award. About 60 years ago he had refrained to do his doctorate – against his professors’ recommendation. Back then he had told them, that he finally wanted to put theories into practice and wanted to pursue mission and pastoral ministry. So it makes him even happier today, that in old age he can receive a doctorate after all. „But it is not thanks to me, as I only learned from the base in Africa, from the people, what mission truly is,” Sandner stressed.
Peter Sandner was the Director of the United Evangelical Mission from 1974 to 1990. One year later the UEM asked him to join the “United in Mission”-committee as an executive secretary. The UIM committee runs the ongoing work of “United in Mission”, the union of all UEM churches in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Through this, the former missionary director Sandner has crucially contributed to transform the old concept of mission, from a sending church to an ecumenical community in which all members give and take the same. The honorary doctorate is mainly due to African Christians, from whom he has learned a lot, Peter Sandner said. That mission is a mutual task, across continents and confessions.
Sandner and Africa are connected by a long and intensive History. Born in Windhuk, Namibia the Theologian grew up in South Africa and has lived and worked in South Africa for 17 years. Many times he travelled Africa both privately and vocational. For many years Peter Sandner has been feeling deeply connected to people in Africa.