The upcoming 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Busan, Republic of Korea, will present an opportunity for sustained ecumenical formation and theological education.
A special curriculum developed by the Ecumenical Theological Education programme of the WCC will be used at the Global Ecumenical Theological Institute (GETI). The GETI will be held at the time of the WCC assembly in Seoul and Busan. Around 150 theology students will participate in the initiative.
The WCC assembly will take place from 30 October to 8 November 2013 addressing the theme, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.”
Texts selected for the curriculum cover a range of themes addressed by WCC programmes for more than ten years. The texts will be made available on a webpage within the Global Digital Library on Theology and Ecumenism (GlobeTheoLib).
GlobeTheoLib is a joint project of the WCC and Globethics.net, a Geneva-headquartered foundation promoting dialogue on ethical issues.
“The curriculum attempts to deepen intercultural perspectives in theological education and develop a sense of belonging on mutual concerns of dialogue, justice, mission and evangelism,” said the Rev. Dr Dietrich Werner, WCC's programme coordinator for ecumenical theological education.
“Such knowledge is vital for the future of world Christianity,” said Werner, noting that theological education can greatly contribute to the formation of future pastors, catechists and religious teachers in the church.
While participation at the GETI will be limited to selected theology students, the online resources on “Ecumenism and World Christianity in the 21st Century” remain accessible to any theological institution in the world and will also be published as a printed volume volume by WCC Publications.
Werner said that several events will create momentum for a renewed ecumenical focus in theological education. He mentioned the upcoming assemblies of the Conference of European Churches, Latin American Council of Churches and All Africa Conference of Churches.
In this context, he said, theological schools and Christian seminaries need to intensify their programmes, forming ecumenical witness for justice, peace, holistic mission and dialogue with people of other faith traditions.
“Several schools are currently developing special courses on the future of ecumenism amidst changing World Christianity, including Brite School of Divinity, Texas Christian University in Texas, the United States,” he said.
Drawing a parallel to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, Werner said that such historical developments were essentially a revolution in education.
“Only if churches take up their mandate for higher education of their ministers and promote a strategic coalition between lived spirituality of Christian faith and education and critical reasoning, they will have a chance to counter religious fanaticism spreading around the world,” he added.