Ecumenical theological education (ETE)
Ecumenical theological education, in all regions of the world, is vital for the future of the ecumenical movement so that the churches may grow closer. The WCC and its partners help create networks of ecumenical theological institutions around the world, which allow to analyse and to value the richness of Christianity in diverse contexts. The ETE activities create opportunities for developing ecumenically-oriented leadership within churches. They are a step towards equal access to theological education for all who wish to serve the churches.
Theological education and ministerial formation enable church and community leaders, theologians and theological educators to become interpreters of the gospel in the world, and to build viable bridges of understanding between churches of different traditions and the fractured societies of contemporary times.
The particular mandate of ecumenical theological education is to sustain the vibrancy of the ecumenical vision – that all may be one – manifested in faith, communion, witness and service. This becomes important in light of tendencies towards inward-orientation and denominationalism at many theological institutions. It is also crucial with regard to the ecumenical formation of younger theologians, also from Evangelical, Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, who will determine the future of the ecumenical movement.
Ecumenical theological leadership capacity development is therefore central for the programme in order to support faculty development, new forms of theological education through learning and participation in global ecumenical events, and targeted theological education projects in the regions.
ETE promotes contextual ecumenical theological education and ministerial formation and encourages theological institutions, ecumenical institutes and associations to participate in the ecumenical movement locally and globally (see key documents of ETE). It is committed to enhance the visibility of women in the ecumenical movement through innovative initiatives such as the Pan African Women’s Ecumenical Empowerment Network (PAWEEN) launched in 2015. It also cooperates with organizations providing grants and scholarships for theological education.
ETE is a founding member of the Global Digital Library for Theology and Ecumenism (GlobeTheoLib) which provides a large collection of online resources for ecumenical theological research. As part of this collaboration, ETE has also established a working group on Ecumenical Theological Education and Migrant Churches.
Regionally, ETE works to engage and strengthen the ecumenical focus of theological educators and students, and relates closely to associations of theological schools both globally (see documents World Conference of Associations of Theological Institutions, WOCATI and WOCATI website) and in the regions, as well as to ecumenical institutes through regional consultants.
Through networking, ETE looks at accreditation and quality standards to encourage the development of contextual, ecumenical, holistic and interdisciplinary approaches to learning in theological education and ministerial formation.
It supports exchange programmes of educators and students, curriculum transformation towards a more inclusive church for instance regarding gender, disability, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, as well as mutual learning on areas related to teaching and research methodologies.