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Friday, Oct. 9, 2009
Today we heard five presentation from theologians around the world. Some highlights:
- a teacher from Finland told of the students in her religion classes, who, steeped in pluralism, wonder why they should be concerned about church unity. "Aren't difference, diversity and independent thought things we should value in Christianity?" they ask
- a pastor from the Episcopal church in Cuba shared stories of the church's work to connect with and learn from practioners of local traditional religions. A community leader told her that she believes Afro-Cuban traditions were the way God spoke to her ancestors in Africa, and for her that is the same God she now worships in the Episcopal church
- a Catholic sister from Hong Kong reminded us that Christianity, though born in Asia, "is still today regarded in most Asian countries as a 'foreign import,' and that Christian churches are still looked upon as 'bonsai-churches,' trees planted from abroad and still growing in borrowed pots"
- a Presbyterian professor from South Africa recounted the painful story of churches divided by apartheid and their struggle for reunion that still continues today - though the split over race is not even ecumenical but within the Presbyterian family in South Africa
- an Orthodox Metropolitan expressed his belief that unity of the Church will be achieved only through repentance, humility and return to our common roots - though it is hard to say which roots all these bodies would consider "common"
I don't have time for commentary on all these presentations, but suffice it to say the global church is fascinating in its breadth and desire to be faithful in each time and place. All the presentations were designed to get us thinking about our own contributions to the unity of the church - as well as, perhaps, our own need for repentance and renewal.
Tomorrow, we break into our small groups to tackle the issues of authority and moral discernment.
Posted by Aimee Moiso