Nigerian pastor presents at Embers

Rev. John Pena from Nigeria talked about his work as president of a theological seminary during a visit to The Embers in Marshalltown Wednesday.

Pena is in Iowa as part of a four-week long trip around to churches with his wife, Titi.

His visit is part of a partnership between the Nigerian United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Church in Iowa.

Pena leads the Banyam Theological Seminary in a rural area of Bambur, Nigeria which could use plenty of upgrades in living conditions, water availability and health care.

The school, which currently has 134 students, is also needed due to the demand for pastors in the country.

“The church in Nigeria is growing by 15 percent every year,” Pena said. “The task before us is to produce more manpower for the church, for the government and the community.”

Iowans have been helpful to the seminary through the years with donations and they have also been welcoming to Pena when he visits.

“They are good people,” Pena said of Iowans. “They are hospitable and so receptive.”

One of their future goals of the seminary is to build a health care clinic on site to help people who get sick or fall prey to dangerous snakes.

“We have the most poisonous snakes in the whole world within that area,” Pena said.

Pena also addressed the big news story of the hundreds of Nigerian girls who were kidnapped recently by terrorists. He was quick to point out that terrorism is a problem throughout the world.

“Terrorism is not only in Nigeria,” Pena said.

Pena has visited Iowa seven times through the years, but this was the first trip for his wife, Titi. The couple have two sons, one of which is studying at Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City.

Those looking to support the seminary can contact Rev. Donna Meinhard at 563-380-0892 or by email at