The CWM theological consultation, dubbed ‘Theological Education as Transformative Praxis’ hosted by Bishops’ College in Kolkata, India is a three-day event slated for the 28th to 30th November 2016. It has brought together students, church leaders, theological educators and activists from the Caribbean and South Asia. The consultation is a bold attempt to re-orient theological education towards transformative praxis, understood as resistance and emancipation in the context of Empire.
The consultation began with an opening worship in which the CWM Moderator, the Rev. D. C. Haia delivered the homily in which he implored the participants to engage in prophetic ministry whose primary task is the levelling of the playground in order to combat global social inequality.
In his keynote address, titled, “Theological Education for Radical Engagement,” the CWM General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Collin Cowan underlined the fact that the world was in trouble and that it was precisely in this context that theological education must present itself as a tool for critical engagement and transformative action. He advised that there was a “need to revisit theological education to give students a stronger entry point into Missio-Dei. Such an entry point creates an opportunity to hear and respond to God’s cry, not just God’s call.” The brokenness of our world invites lament as well as transformative action, both of which reside and begin in the heart of God. Such theological education will produce Christian leaders who are positioned to “mutually challenge, encourage and equip churches to share in God’s mission.”
The day’s presentations dealt with theological education and ministerial formation. The four panels were centered on the themes of equipping and training people so that they can facilitate God’s mission. In his presentation, Rev. Dr. Roderick Hewitt contended that transformative theological education must be understood as participation in Missio-Dei, understood as participation in the struggles of ordinary people for peace, justice, and inclusivity and as resistance against the dominant powers that obstruct the fullness of life. Affirmation of life acknowledges that humans as being embodied and gendered. These qualities open up for the flourishing of all people.
In his presentation, Rev. Dr. Ratnakar Sadananda, General Secretary of the Church of South India urged theological students to develop a new understanding that contextualizes theological education as an integral part of the life and the ministry of the church.
The final session featured a panel of presenters, Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, Rev. Joy Abdul Mohan and Dr. Aruna Gnanadasson. They stressed the necessity to break away from colonial models in order to re-imagine theological education from the perspective of subaltern communities and that of the earth.