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Sound the Bamboo
[CCA Hymnal]



Theological Students Ask for More Ecumenical Programs

At the end of a busy five-day program, a total of 67 Asian Catholic and Protestant seminarians attending the Second Asia Conference of Theological Students in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 25-31, called upon churches in Asia to encourage holding more such ecumenical conferences by providing more financial and moral support.

They also called on church leaders to encourage and initiate inculturation of teachings and liturgies in order to develop a truly Asian theology. In line with the wider understanding of ecumenism, they also called upon leaders of mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches to actively build ties with Evangelical, independent and charismatic groups, even as interreligious dialogue and cooperation should be continuously pursued.

Recognizing that the development of China will have an impact on the rest of the world, they also called on the churches to help the ecumenical mission of Christians in China.

These recommendations were contained in a statement that was read as an act of commitment during the closing worship.

The group also had recommendations for their sending theological institutions: (a) that the curriculum include studies on inter-religious relations, inculturation and feminist theology; (b) that they teach and encourage the use of scriptures from other faiths and of indigenous elements in liturgies; and (c) that they send more participants to ecumenical conferences by increasing financial and moral support.

They also had recommendations for themselves: (a) to strive to learn and know more about other religions and cultures than their own; (b) to exercise respect for Christians of other denominations and persons of other faiths; and (c) to write reflections on ecumenism and inter-faith efforts to give greater support and publicity to such activities.

ACTS II was held to coincide with the Faith and Order Plenary Commission taking place in Kuala Lumpur from July 28-August 6. While the Faith and Order sought to lead the global churches into theological dialogue as a means of overcoming obstacles to and opening up ways towards the manifestation of Christian unity, ACTS II sought to explore issues, trends and challenges in theology in an effort to promote a more contextualized approach to doing theology in Asia.

The program consisted of sharing of contextual experiences by participants; synthesis and analysis of trends by Edmund Chia; inputs by Sathianathan Clarke on Christian theology and on being contextual theologians in Asia; survey of theological methods by Robert Schreiter; presentation on Asian feminist theologies by Hope Antone and Yong Ting Jin; inputs on Islam by Tom Michel; and a sharing on ecclesiological welcome by Anne Marie Reijnen.

The group of seminarians said that many ecumenical ventures they know of came about due to social and political factors rather than religious or spiritual factors. They said that most joint-projects are done to address poverty, HIV/AIDS, globalization, or in response to discrimination and oppression of Christians in some Asian contexts. They therefore called for mainstreaming the following in theological education: Asian/African contextual theologies; feminist theologies; religious pluralism and interreligious dialogue; poverty and globalization; ecological and environmental issues; and conflict management and resolution.

The program did not only begin and end with worship; each day began with worship led by various groups of participants � bringing cultural and religious symbols and elements from various countries and traditions. A solidarity meal was celebrated, commemorating the Passover meal and the Last Supper � but giving new meaning to common Asian elements like tea, a sweet, dry biscuit, sour fruit, bitter herbs, and rice.

The participants joined the Faith and Order Plenary Commission at its opening worship at St. Mary�s Cathedral and a dinner reception at the Selangor Club on 28 July. They also sent a brief version of their statement to the commission meeting.

ACTS II was jointly organized by the Christian Conference of Asia and the Federation of Asian Bishops� Conferences. Of the 67 participants, 32 came from CCA member churches and related organizations while 35 came from FABC. Of these, 33 were women and 34 men. Participants, ranging from the age of 21 to 60, came from Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Four overseas participants came from France, Hungary, Syria and Zambia. Among the group of Protestant and Catholic seminarians was a Muslim Indonesian woman who is presently doing her Ph. D. studies in systematic theology. Her presence at this Christian conference was greatly appreciated by the participants.

Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Council of Churches in Malaysia, gave a welcome greeting during the opening service while Ahn Jae Woong, general secretary of CCA, came later to greet the participants.

Full statement from ACTS II

posted by hope on Saturday, August 07, 2004  

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