Father Peter O’Neill, staff and residents of Hsinchu Catholic Diocese Migrants and Immigrants Center sharing with the participants the migrant issues.
The joint theological consultation was held in WenCui Center (Catholic Training Center) in Taipei from 17-22 May 2013. The consultation was jointly organized by CWM Global Office, CWM East Asia Region and CWM Pacific Region. The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) was the host for this consultation and provided assistance in many respects.
The purpose of the consultation was to understand mission in theological education in the light of the changing landscape of the 21st century, such as the increasing environmental threat, human trafficking and the growth of Christianity in the non-Western world. As such, the consultation engages with mission educators and theological students on these issues. A total of 24 participants inclusive of staff and resource persons were present at the consultation.
The programme was divided primarily into three parts: 1) the immersion program/exposure trips; 2) the sharing and critique of syllabi received; and 3) the construction of proposed modules and courses.
Participants were divided into 4 groups for their exposure trips. Two groups were assigned to look at the advocacy work of PCT and NGOs with regards to ecological concerns, such as the campaign against Kuo Kuan Petrochemical Project in central Taiwan and the Tzu Chi Foundation’s project in Neihu Park, Taipei. The other two groups look at advocacy work of the Hsinchu Catholic Diocese and PCT, Kaoshiung, with regards to migrant workers, seamen and foreign spouses. Following the exposure trips, participants shared their reflections, perspectives and concerns.
Rev. Dr. Yang Shun Chung from Tainan Theological College and Seminary shared stewardship ethics in the light of environment abuse, tracing the traditional Protestant view of nature and stewardship to the reestablishing relationship between God, humanity and nature. It is the relationship between the I-Thou, the I-It, the I-Ens, and the I-Ens that point to a relationship of contemplation and cooperation with nature. In other words, human beings created in God’s image demonstrate their close relation with nature, and created creature like humans. Therefore, human beings have responsibility to reflect the love’s relation of God in deed and for the community’s relationship to God.
On the issue of caring for migrants in Taiwan, Father Peter O’Neill, Hsinchu Diocese Migrant and Immigrant chaplain, began his lecture, citing The Instruction: The Love of Christ towards Migrants, published by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. The Instruction clearly points out that one of the important theological and pastoral findings of the Church is “the central position of the human person and the defense of the rights of migrants, both men and women, and their children. Pastoral care of migrants means welcome, respect, protection, promotion and genuine love of every person in his or her religious and cultural expressions…. The Magisterium has also insisted on the need of policies that effectively guarantee the rights of all migrants.” As such, the church must enter into dialogue with governments to advocate and lobby for policies to protect the fundamental human rights of migrant workers. Father O’Neill went on to explain the work of Hsinchu Diocese Migrant Centers and expressed that “the challenge in today’s migrations is not an easy one because many different spheres are involved: economics, sociology, politics, health, culture, and security. All Christians must respond to this challenge; it is not just a matter of good will or the personal charisma of a few.”
The immersion program/exposure trips were additional reading materials that the participants received prior to the consultation. The reading materials were aimed to assist participants in their reflection and research in their construction of syllabi and courses.
In the light of reading materials, immersion program/exposure trips, lectures on CWM theology statement, and different approaches to teaching, the groups were tasked to construct proposed syllabi and course outlines which they could take back to their theological institutions or churches. Some of the proposed syllabi and course outlines are an 8-week course for children: “Kids Friendly Syllabi” to teach them about evangelism, justice, integrity of creation, wholeness of life, and discipleship, and a course for young people to teach them about economics and ethics, “Introduction to Ethical Economy in Christianity”, and also a course that addresses ecological concerns: “Eco-theology.” Further work is being undertaken to develop the course outlines for theological reflection and research for our member churches and their theological institutions.
The joint theological consultation brought two regions of CWM to share and learn different perspectives together. The presence and active participation of young theological students gave a fresh and energetic atmosphere to the consultation.
Ms. Wanda Joleen Otuafi (nee Hiram) of the Nauru Congregational Church (NCC) was inspired to write this song after her reflection on the and concerns which were discussed. She writes, “As I was reflecting and summing them up, I decided to add a tune to it, and in the end, the song “A WORLD OF GIFT” was born.” Do enjoy her song: