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Workshop on disability discourse for theological colleges, Bangalore, India


28 May 2006

EDAN International workshop on disability discourse for theological colleges

May 22-28, 2006
Ashirvad, Bangalore, India

See also:

  • Statement and recommendations from the workshop, and

  • two curricula designed during the workshop: an interdisciplinary course on disability, and a special course on disability



The ETE-WCC/CCA, EDAN, and SATHRI organized a joint International Workshop on Disability Discourse for Theological Colleges from May 22 - 28, 2006 at Ashirvad, Bangalore, India. 21 persons representing ETE-WCC/CCA, EDAN, SATHRI, NCC Korea and different theological institutions affiliated to the Senate of Serampore College (University) (SSC) participated in this workshop. The primary objective of this workshop was to highlight the importance of ministry to, with and of persons with disabilities (PWD) and to include this concern in the theological education curriculum of the SSC.

The workshop process included devotions, addresses and paper presentations, sharing of experiences, group discussions, and plenary presentations. All these approaches facilitated a variety of perspectives on the subject: biblical reflections, theological articulations, ethical considerations, ministerial strategies, counselling techniques, social analysis and personal testimonies.

Specifically the workshop deliberated at length on the existing curriculum of the SSC. After examining the curriculum, and being aware that the SSC is currently engaged in the process of curriculum revision, the workshop prepared drafts of two courses to be included in the new curriculum. The first is an interdisciplinary (team teaching) course, INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY: DISABILITY PERSPECTIVES. The second is a course entitled, INTRODUCING DISABILITY DISCOURSE FOR THEOLOGICAL AND MINISTERIAL FORMATION. In preparing these courses the workshop drew insights from the addresses and paper presentations, group and plenary discussions as well as from the following documents: (1) Report of the Workshop on Disability Discourse for Theological Colleges (held in Limuru, Kenya from Aug. 15-21, 2004). Nairobi: EDAN, 2004. (2) A Church of All and for All: An Interim Theological Statement. Geneva: WCC, 2003.

The workshop issued a statement affirming the importance of including the disability discourse in the curriculum of theological institutions as an instrument of conscientising the church regarding PWD, thereby facilitating the inclusion of PWD as dignified full participant members of the community. The participants are grateful to ETE-WCC/CCA, EDAN and SATHRI for organising this timely workshop. To the best of our knowledge this is the first workshop of its kind in the history of SSC.

Programme Process and Daily Activities

Day One: 23rd May 2006

The Day One programme of the workshop was focused on the need of addressing the concern of the disabled in Christian ministry and theological education. The present curriculum of theological education and teaching-learning process, the process of disability and theological discourse in theological institutions initiated by WCC and other ecumenical bodies were discussed elaborately. The morning session was moderated by Dr. Wati Longchar.

Inauguration: The workshop was inaugurated in the traditional Indian fashion with the lighting of the lamp by Dr. John S. Sadananda, President, Senate of Serampore College (University). He invited four other participants representing the ETE-WCC/CCA, international participants and Indian theological institutions to light the lamp as well.

Opening Devotion: Dr. John Sadananda then led the participants in a relevant theological cum pastoral devotion based on the texts 2 Cor. 12:7-9 and Matt. 21:12-15. Surveying the different theological responses given to suffering in general, and disability in particular, he then emphasized two thoughts: (1) God's power is manifested through human weakness. The crucified-resurrected Christ is a fellow-sufferer who provides empowering grace to the weak, the suffering, the disabled; (2) Just as the episode of Jesus' cleansing of the temple is followed by the entry of the blind and the lame in the temple and the children crying "Hosannah", so the ministry to the disabled should be inclusive, affirming the gospel of justice, rights, and full participation to all. He posed two questions to the groups: (1) How does our theological curriculum respond to the needs, inclusion, justice and dignified participation of the disabled in the church and society? (2) How does our commitment to justice and compassion find expression in our ministries? Dr. Sadananda encouraged the members to be responsibly engaged in the process of receiving grace as well as being channels of sharing grace. On behalf of the Senate of Serampore (university), Dr. Sadananda thanked ETE-WCC/CCA and EDAN for this historic workshop and assured full cooperation and support.

Welcome and Introductions: Dr. Wati Longchar, Consultant on ETE-WCC/CCA welcomed the participants and so did Dr. Samson Prabhakar, Director, Research, BTESSC/SATHRI. This was followed by a round of self-introduction by each of the participants.

Workshop Background and Objectives: Dr. Samuel Kabue, Executive Secretary of Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN) and Dr. Wati Longchar explained the background and objectives of the workshop. Dr. Kabue briefly highlighted the history and interventions of the WCC on disabilities starting from 1971, going on to the formation of EDAN in 1999, to the appointment of Dr. Kabue as a full time consultant of EDAN and subsequently as Executive Secretary in 2003, the ministry to the disabled continuing to receive due space and support at the WCC Assembly at Porto Alegre in 2006. The concern in all these historical developments had been to move from charity towards the disabled to the inclusive participation and active involvement of the disabled in the life of the church and society. In addition to his presentation, Dr. Kabue introduced three documents to the participants:

  1. A report on the Workshop on Disability Discourse for Theological Colleges, August 15-21, 2003 in Limuru, Kenya.

  2. A brochure on EDAN

  3. An Interim Theological Statement: A Church of All and for All, published by the WCC.


As far as the objectives of the present workshop were concerned, Dr. Kabue emphasized the importance of including the concern of the ministry to, with, and of the disabled in the curriculum of theological institutions. He also thanked Dr. Wati Longchar and Dr. Samson Prabhakar for making this workshop possible.

Dr. Wati Longchar in addition to bringing greetings from the ETE team members particularly from Dr. Nyambura J. Njoroge, pointed out that the Senate of Serampore College (University) and Association for Theological Education South East Asia (ATESEA) together have 150 theological institutions associated with them and so through these institutions the discourse on disability could be given the needed momentum and practical implementation in the church and society. He said three consultations/workshops on various contextual issues are being planned in the regions in South Asia, South East Asia and North Asia. He also mentioned that disability will be one major area of focus in the coming years. He thus placed three proposals before the participants:

  1. Would the participants like to develop a separate course on Ministry to the Disabled to be taught in theological institutions?

  2. Would they like to integrate the discourse on disability in the existing curriculum?

  3. Would one or two colleges like to be committed to take up the Ministry to the Disabled as a special programme?

Appointment of Recording Secretaries and Drafters of Statement: Dr. Roger Gaikwad, the Director of Theological Education by Extension of the Senate of Serampore College (University) Dr. Ezamo Murry, the Principal-elect of the Eastern Theological College, Jorhat and Dr. H. M. Watson, Lecturer, Karnataka Theological College, Mangalore were appointed as recorders and reporters of day to day proceedings as well as drafters of the Statement and Recommendations.

Key Note Address: Dr. K.C. Abraham, the former Director of Research, BTESSC and SATHRI, delivered the key note address on the topic "Disability Discourse: Challenges to Theological Education". In his address, Dr. Abraham made the following important observations:

  1. In India, theological education in general, and theological literature in particular, is the work of able-bodied persons meant for able-bodied people. There are cultural and theological reasons for this phenomenon. Both these factors emphasize the importance of "perfection", "power", "might", etc. Therefore society has no place for the ‘disabled'. Cultural symbols affirm might and power. In a similar way, theological terms affirm the concept of God as king, omni present, omnipotent, etc. Such cultural and theological articulations have to be changed; we have to develop a relevant theology for, and a meaningful ministry to, disabled persons.

  2. Contextual theology should provide the methodology for doing theology in relation to the disabled. Such an endeavor would require commitment to the cause of the disabled: walking with them, giving expression to their struggles, engaging in their liberation.

  3. Discourse on disability should articulate theology from the perspective of the disabled. Theology is discourse on God and theological concepts and language are all metaphorical and are culturally and socially constructed. We construct God as warrior, ruler, etc. Such concepts cannot speak to disabled people. We need to re-symbolize the divine power not as dominating and controlling power but as liberating power and love. Thus the symbols and metaphors used should resonate with their experiences.

  4. A theological discourse on disability would have to shift from the Greek philosophical framework with its emphasis on unchangeable essence to a re-symbolization of God as a liberative power with compassionate love. The focus would be on a suffering, crucified God, on the pain of God and the pathos of suffering people.

Speaking in the context of his own experience with his mentally challenged daughter and the institution that is run by his wife in helping mentally challenged girls, and in the light of his readings, Dr. Abraham reflected on the theme, "Broken God in the Midst of Broken People." Instead of a "success oriented gospel", obsessed with cure and miracles we need to give expression to the gospel of a suffering God, suffering in solidarity with others. The incarnation is an apt symbol of this broken God - God entering our world to communicate and live with us. So also we need to enter the world of the disabled in general and of the mentally challenged in particular, to be able to understand them and relate to them meaningfully. One can then joyfully share in their discoveries, in their accomplishments, and in their articulations. One can then even receive their love: authentic and genuine, not contrived or manipulative. Indeed plants, animals and others whom we may consider ‘lesser' creation are very important in God's sight. The greatest feast one could celebrate is one in which the lame, the blind, the disabled are invited. One can see a new face of Christ in the vulnerabilities of the disabled.

In the discussion that followed the address, the following issues were highlighted:

  1. Which term is appropriate: "disabled' or ‘differently abled'?

  2. The distinction between physically disabled persons and mentally challenged persons.

  3. The basis of a theology of disabled and the mentally challenged people.

  4. Cultural symbols, celebration and disabled.

  5. The burden and needs of parents whose disabled children cannot be looked after in an institution.

Paper Presentation I

The afternoon session was moderated by Dr. Roger Gaikwad. In the afternoon, Dr. Ezamo Murry presented a paper entitled, "Ministerial Formation to Serve Disabled Persons". In the context of a restatement of the nature of Christian ministry and of the nature and work of a Christian minister, Dr. Murry went on to present the concern for ministry to the disabled from behavioural and theological perspectives. He further identified biblical and theological resources as bases for launching advocacy, ministry with and to the persons with disability in the context of the holistic nature and ministry of the church.

In the discussion of the presentation, the following concerns emerged:

  1. How can disability be defined? While people mentioned characteristics such as physical difficulties, sensory impairment, mental problems, etc. it was noted that in many places it is culture which defines disabilities. A note of caution was also sounded that we do not get engaged in hair-splitting while attempting to define disability.

  2. The scenario in terms of the numbers of disabled persons is baffling. While according to the paper there are 60 million disabled people, yet their number is small compared to the huge Indian population which is almost 1.2 billion. Thus the problem of disabled is not given due attention because there are able-bodied people in India who are struggling for food, clothing and shelter. People who are suffering from economic and social disabilities are much more than those suffering from physical, mental disabilities.

  3. Disabilities are not only congenital or caused accidentally, but also there are cases of people being disabled in wars and those who are forcibly made disable so that they would beg for alms and thus become a means of income for their tormentors.

  4. Globalization is further making the situation of the disabled very vulnerable. The economic growth oriented approach to development, privatization, competition, and emphasis on standardization of labour will further marginalize disabled persons. The preference given to smartness, efficiency, swiftness, beauty, etc. will do greater damage to the life and work of persons with disabilities.

  5. Even though the number of disabled may be proportionately small, even though the church and society have so far neglected the disabled, we now face this responsibility of making the ministry to the disabled an important priority of the church and society. People need to be conscientized, their attitudes to disability need to be changed, a commitment of solidarity with and concern for the disabled needs to be cultivated in theological institutions, churches and the society.

  6. We need to become aware of what is happening in different countries like South Korea, Kenya, etc. and be challenged to initiate a movement in solidarity with the disabled.

Paper Presentation II:

Dr. Joseph George, Professor in the Department of Christian Ministry, United Theological College, Bangalore, presented a paper on "Pastoral Care and Counseling to the Differently Abled Persons: Challenges and Responses". The paper started with a discussion of the terms "disability" and "differently abled". In addition to talking about physical and mental disabilities, Dr. George drew attention to emotional disabilities that affect people's lives. He then presented statistical figures of the disabled in India dividing them into different categories. One of his main concerns was that "persons with disabilities, as a minority people, are systematically marginalized at all levels of living in India (in spite of certain support systems and reservation policies favouring them in education and employment)". Dr. George then went on to present important concerns of disabled people in the light of four case studies. Within such a context he discussed issues related to the therapeutic process.

In the discussions after the presentation the following concerns emerged:

  1. It is difficult to practically categorize ‘disability', yet such a categorization is academically important while drawing up a curriculum.

  2. While all the usual characteristics and methodologies employed by counselors are important, these have to be particularly addressed in a special way when relating with disabled persons. They have their frustrations, bitterness, experiences of humiliation, etc. which have to be addressed. Disabled persons feel neglected or rejected or abused particularly in the context of miracle crusades, objectification in sermon illustrations, etc.

  3. The pastor can play a very important role in changing the attitude of the church members towards disabled people. They should be included in the church, given the dignity of being full participant members of the church and society.

  4. Empathy, not in terms of intellectual understanding, but in terms of entering the thought world of the disabled is important in counseling.

  5. The parents and other relatives of disabled persons would also require pastoral care and counseling.

  6. Meetings and fellowships of the disabled persons and similarly of their parents, relatives, etc. can be of great help in the therapeutic process. Their ‘sharing' and ‘solidarity' can be a means of great release and empowerment.


Day Two: 24th May 2006

1. We started the second Day with a devotion led by Dr. G. Sobhanam, Lecturer of Kerala United Theological Seminary, Kerala, reading the story of King David and the disabled person, Mephibosheth, 2 Sam. 9:1-8. David extended his royal kindness to the poor PWD and declared that such kindness is of God. The leader reminded that such a Biblical injunction requires us today to integrate the PWD to the life of the community.

2. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, the Director of the Extension Studies, Senate of Serampore College (University), read the proceedings of the Day-1, giving us the cue to continue the Day-2 task.

3. Dr. Samson Prabhakar, the Director of the South Asia Theological Research Institute (SATHRI) who is a well experienced academician and Supervisor of many research students in India, read a paper on "Infusing Curriculum of Theological Education with Concern of Disability". The session was moderated by Dr. Swami Raju, Lecturer at Andhra Christian College and Seminary, Hyderabad.

Dr. Prabhakar began acknowledging that he is new to the subject and that he had not come across any research done under the SATHRI on the subject so far. His paper contained many useful insights that can be used as bases and directives to this formative moment of our theological journey in India, among which are following:

  1. In spite of the fact that the clergies are more often called for to attend to the needs of the PWD there is no provision in the curriculum of the Senate of Serampore College(University) on the PWD. However, the curriculum under revision now can carry such study contents, he hoped.

  2. Our infrastructures in theological colleges need PWD accessibility.

  3. As theology deals with fullness of life it cannot be silent about the question of disability.

  4. We should begin by accepting the PWD in our community even as the Dalits, tribals, and the women are integral part of our community.

  5. We must discard the Levitical tradition that excluded the PWD and follow Jesus who accepted the PWD as any other persons.

  6. We should avoid theological escapism and include the disability in our theologizing. We must also unlearn the prejudices and misconception we may have toward the PWD. The curriculum should have contents to train the ministers to embrace all God's creation including the PWD.

  7. We need to redefine both theology and curriculum. We need to include body theology in the body of our knowledge. For, as J.B.Nelson held, body theology begins with fleshly experience of life. The task of body theology is a critical reflection on our bodily experience as a fundamental realm of the experience of God. Jesus himself was the Incarnate Word who lived out the body.

Dr. Prabhakar concluded with a three point emphases: first, the need of making room for the PWD in the theological community; second, to make the theological teachers aware of the importance of the PWD concerns; and, thirdly, to infuse PWD concern in curriculum from the early stages of theological trainings.

The discussion that followed endorsed the need of infusing the content of disability in curriculum which is under revision now. The urgent question of what we can achieve at this workshop was also pointed out. The group affirmed that we take this subject as an integral part of our theologizing. Comments also included the idea that, making the course exclusively for the PWD may attract less people so more inclusive items be added. It was also proposed that the theological teachers be given refreshers course on the subject bringing them not only to intellectual accent but also to ministerial commitment.

5. Dr. Sam Njuguna Kabue, is a visually impaired minister from Kenyan Presbyterian Church. The history of EDAN can be traced in his own life and work. He is currently the Executive Secretary of the Ecumenical Disability Advocacy Network (EDAN). He read his Brailled copy on Identifying approaches and Introducing Disability Issues to Theological Institutions.

Dr. Kabue endorsed the important points Prabhakar had mentioned and added some more concerns as follows: He began with the semantic debate on disability going on even at the WCC circles. The WCC uses the term differently abled but even that does not satisfy all and so the right word for this is still in the making. This is also due to the cultural differences in understanding and describing the disabled persons. Impairment is a popular usage referring to physical, mental, sensory dysfunction that requires the society's assistance. The PLWH are in a sense impaired too. The present goodwill posture of the society, the church and the WHO gives us good hope for the PWD.

The traditional attitude of the society is similar to the attitude recorded in John 9 but Jesus revolutionized that idea and added that the work of God may be manifested in such situation. Sam also pointed out factors like compulsory military service and famine where food scarcity results are among the situations that make the PWD face hardship. Ten percent of any community on the planet is assumed to have PWD of one type or the other and the church is the first place where the PWD should find acceptance and participation in society.

Mt.11: 4 declares that the good news is for the poor. But cultural factors like paternalistic, exclusion from participation, and uneasy feelings of the majority due to their own complex over the PWD make the situation difficult for the PWD. Some of the phenomena in the church like charismatic healings that emphasizes on healing of the body make the people push the PWD to the front of the church during such worship. The teaching that God is in our suffering and that we should bear our thorn in the flesh is overlooked often. Messages of God's presence in all human situations (Jer.29:11, Is.42:3, etc.) should be announced as goodness by the pastors and evangelists to the people who suffer. If as Paul said, nothing on this universe can separate us from the love of God, that assurance extends to the PWD too as all are created in the image of God. Our other concerns are, who will teach the course, who should we convince. We need to introduce the subject in all levels of study. There is also a need to change the attitude on the part of the trainees.

6. Dr. Wati Longchar, the ETE consultant for Asia and Pacific region highlighted the theological education network of theological education in Asia and Pacific and spoke on the present state of theological education, especially the responses of theological community on the current global issues such as peace concerns, HIV/AIDS, etc.

7. Sharing session: From 23rd afternoon onwards, Dr. Wati Longchar moderated the programme on 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th May. Wati informed that Dr. Amanda Shao Tan from the Philippines and Ms. Sia Siew Chin from Malaysia could not come due to personal reasons. Three international participants shared the problem and challenges of disabilities in their respective churches and institutions:

i) Ms. Lee Ja Ye : Ms. Lee, a long experienced woman minister in disability concern both in Korea and in EDAN/WCC circles, began from the Korean civil war of 1950 that caused many citizens lose their limbs and injured their bodies in many ways. Although there were some international initiations there were no actual awareness of the PWD issues until it came up in 1990, the PWD taking themselves the initiative. The government requires all citizens to study up to Middle School. There was a time when the children of the parents who are PWD, especially those with hearing impaired, could not even respond to their children's communications so they required the society's assistance. This also made education of the children difficult. Now there are children of the PWD in Universities. The government takes care of the mentally challenged persons too. Government also grants pension to the PWD, concessions in some purchases like Computers, and free medical care. Institutions are required by the government to make disabled-friendly which requires an expensive renovation of the infrastructures. This drive makes some pay fine than modifying their buildings and places disabled-friendly.

When Lee was in school there were no such disability course but now there is at least one course introduced in the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Seoul. The NCC Korea gives awareness on the disability issues and works at times with the Japanese Council of Churches but it has not been very effective. The church started this area of ministry in 1999 with its head office in Seoul. Dr. Kabue added that the Korean churches are still not accessible to the PWD, for which reason some people find it easier to go to bars than to church.

ii) Dr. Sam Njuguna Kabue: Sam traced back the work among the PWD in Kenya to the welfare work of the British Commonwealth in Kenya which later gave birth to the present work in the 1920s. The British worked mostly for the visual and hearing impaired persons, such as Commonwealth Blind Society, Commonwealth Deaf Society etc. The Colonists were concerned more on bringing food or shelter to these disabled and even educating them came only later. By 1960s the International Federation of Blind People also came up with people trained to help them. Later, organizations like, World Blind Union, and of Physically Handicapped etc came through consultations in S. Arabia and Winnipeg in the 1980s. In Kenya, when the Kenyan soldiers fighting for the British in the WW-2 came back blinded, some Schools for the Blind began to emerge to assist them and Society for the Blind came up under the Royal Society. Then by 1950-1960 the Govt. of Kenya and the Church began to take interest in the welfare of the disabled. By the 1980s the Kenyans resolved to have the concern for the PWD. Dr. Kabue himself joined this work in 1990, initiating this work through the NCC Korea. The Kenyan Govt. also legislated to this effect for the PWD but achievement was minimal.

Then Dr. Kaube shared with the group his first hand experience from his life how the PWD finds difficult to gain acceptance, especially to join the ministry. He had to give up pursuing it and temporarily entered other services and finally came to the present ministry. He highlighted the group with the history of how the Colonial welfare on the disability, especially the visually impaired, led to the present wider concerns, including the awareness by the church. Actually the church should have been the spearhead in this regard but the secular world was ahead of the church in this goodwill. A couple of Seminaries, as in Kenya and Stockholm had experimented teaching a course on disability but without much success. The UN, beginning from 1971 has been concerned with this issue, declaring 1981 as the year of the disabled, and 1982-1992 as the decade of the PWD. By August this year the UN will prepare a document in this regard.

Ms. Anjeline Okola, Administrative staff of EDAN in Nairobi, Kenya who is also trained in disability concerns in Birmingham, added few more points including awareness building as crucial at this moment. To this, Ms. Lee Ja Ye, also added that Asia declares decades of the PWD beginning from 1993 which will go till 2013.

After the sharing hours Dr. Wati Longchar highlighted the structure of the Workshops that are to come from the morning of the Day-3. Considering the Serampore theological education system and in view of the Serampore curriculum revision that is taking place, the members were asked to work on the following:

  1. To re-examine the existing Senate of Serampore College Curriculum which is under revision at this juncture and see if disability concerns are incorporated in the upcoming new curriculum.

  2. In Inter-disciplinary Course examined by the Senate, taught by at least three teachers of different disciplines.

  3. A Course on disability to be offered by some Theological Colleges in India.

The Course will have its Title, Description, Purpose, Methodology, Outline, Evaluation system, and Bibliography.

Then the members were divided into two groups as follows:

Group 1

Dr. Joseph George
Ms. Lee Ye Ya
Dr. Samuel Kabue
Dr. Watson
Dr. Roger
Dr. Sundara Raj
Ms. Asongla
Mr. Praveen Paul
Dr. Wati Longchar
Dr. John Sadananda
Rev. Jacob Sundersingh

Group 2

Dr. Ezamo Murry
Dr. Samson 
Ms. Anjeline
Rev. Sobhanam
Rev. Epratha
Dr. Swami Raju
Ms. Drecelline
Mr. Mithra
Rev. Samuel
Dr. K.C. Abraham

Both groups were requested to spend one hour on "the existing theological curriculum of the Senate of Serampore College (University) and Group 1 was assigned to work out a course on Interdisciplinary Course on disability and the group 2 was assigned to work out a special course on Disability and Christian ministry. With this the Day 2 activities came to an end.

Day Three: 25th May 2006

1. The day three started with a devotion led by Ms. Lee Ye Ja, EDAN Coordinator, Korea Differently Abled Women United, Korea. The text from Hab. 3: 17-19 was read. Rev. Samuel George and Rev. Epratha Sarthy led the intercessory prayers.

2. Dr. Ezamo Murry gave a report on the proceedings of day 2 and the same was distributed to all later.

3. After the report, groups met separately to work on the assignment given to them. Both the groups met for workshop till 4.30 PM.

4. The group came together after coffee break at 5:00 p.m. to get the reports from the groups. The recording secretaries of group gave a report on their work on "Review of Existing Curriculum of the Senate of Serampore College (University) and shared the progress report of their work on curriculum.

Highlights of the Report on the "Review of the Existing Curriculum of the Senate of Senate of Serampore College (University).

The group discussed in length the pattern and relevance of the existing B.D curriculum. As it is assumed that the present curriculum will be changed shortly, instead of suggesting to infuse the disability concern to the existing curriculum following observations were made which need to be taken seriously at the time of revision:

  1. The existing curriculum was revised in 1991 and it is high time to revise the same as it is already 15 years old.

  2. Context of theological articulation and learning has changed. Globalization, religious fundamentalism, war on terror, communalism, IT revolution, global Empire, and global pandemic and crisis posed by HIV and AIDS are some of the issues that affect all today.

  3. Different concerns and issues have emerged in recent years and these issues should be properly included and integrated in theological education. Among already known concerns like dalit, women, tribal, ecological, disability is another important concern to be addressed. Proper space should be given to the disabled to participate and articulate theology.

  4. The present focus on three aspects of theological education - ministerial formation, personal formation and academic formation - mentioned in the existing curriculum need to be retained. However, it is observed that though there are three aspects, the present theological education focused mainly on the third one. Personal and ministerial formation need to be taken up seriously in curriculum development.

  5. Theological methodology needs to be changed. (a) The curriculum should be contextual. The present department or discipline oriented approaches to theological education give very little room for contextual issues. (b) Issues based interdisciplinary study should be promoted.

  6. There is a gap between theological education and the common person in the community and a proper response is needed in order to make theological education relevant.

  7. Theological study should be taken as an ongoing process. Refresher Courses and Study Institute for the theological teachers and pastors/Christian ministers should be given importance.

  8. Specialization in a particular subject may not be very helpful, instead interdisciplinary approach should be encouraged.

Assuming that the Senate will take at least another 2 or 3 more years to finalize the revision, the group suggests that the issue of disability be integrated on the following branches and subjects as follows:

Branch I: Old Testament

Course A. 1: The People of God and the Bible

  • Interpretation of biblical text in relation to disability

Branch II: New Testament

Course A.1. The People of God and the Bible Part II

  • New Testament perspectives on disability

Branch III: Theology and Ethics

Course A.1: An Introduction to Christian Theology

  • Reinterpretation of traditional theologies.

  • Doing theology from the perspective of the disabled

  • Place of PWD in Priesthood

  • Role of the Church towards PWD.

Branch V: Religions and Society

Course A. 1. Study of Major Religions of India in their Socio-Cultural Context

  • Issues of disability - Stigma, taboos, karma-samsara, rebirth, reincarnation, exclusion and discrimination.

Branch VI: Christian Ministry

Course A. 2. Pastoral Care and Counselling

  • Family enrichment program for the parents, relatives and care givers of PWD.

  • Understanding and counseling PWD.

  • Counseling in special situations like disability.

Course A. 3. Introduction to Christian Education

  • Issues of disability and its implication for Christian Education.

  • Worth of the disable child.

  • Organizing study groups for disabled.

Course B.6. Church Administration and Management

  • Legal Matters: Disability rights in church and society.

With this the Day 3 activities came to an end.

Day Four: 26th May 2006.

The day was started with a devotion led by Ms. Asongla, Lecturer of Trinity Theological College, Dimapur, Nagaland and currently finishing her doctoral study at SATHRI. Speaking from Romans 12:3-8, Asongla emphasized that different gifts of God are for the glory of God. Instead of reading just "neither Jews nor Gentile, neither male nor female", we should also read "neither able or disable, neither powerful nor powerless…." All the gifts are from God and all should be allowed to share God's gift for all. The whole morning session the participants listened to group reports on courses. After a long intense discussion and debate, the group again went back to their respective groups to finalize their assignment. The whole afternoon was spent on group work.

Day Five : 27th May 2006

Rev. Mithra, Lecturer at Serampore College, West Bengal and currently doing doctoral studies at SATHRI led the devotion. He read John 5:3-6 about the PWD who waited 38 years to reach the healing spot because he could not go himself nor the people around helped him. He referred to Johnny Erikson, a PWD (woman) who wanted to be addressed as disabled. For she said the societies change of terms like ‘differently abled', ‘physically challenged', etc did not mean their attitude is changed. For her it is mere hypocrisy. The society claimed to have eyes but could not see the man at pool who needed help. This lesson reminds us of how many PWD must be suffering without the society seeing them.

Then, the reports, statement, and courses worked out during the workshop were read, discussed, modified and approved by the group. The following reports were received:

  1. Comments and suggestions on the reports (proceedings) of Day 1 and Day 2.

  2. The statement and recommendations (attached)

  3. An Integrated Course on PWD concern (attached)

  4. The full course on PWD concern (attached)


An evaluation of the workshop was made by the participants. All the members present at this final session spoke thanking ETE-WCC/CCA and SATHRI, the organizer of the workshop as a timely and an eye opening workshop.

The oversea participants, Dr. Sam Kabue, Ms. Lee Ye Ja and Ms. Anjeline Okola were recognized by token gifts on behalf of the Indian partners at this time.

Among the suggestions by the members for future workshops included:

  1. that about 3-4 day would be better;

  2. that the Interim Theological Statement be translated in Indian languages and studied widely;

  3. that the Indian church taking up this concern can have wide effect;

  4. that more PWD from India could have participated in the workshop;

  5. that we also refer to courses of Indian universities on this subject;

  6. that such a consultation can also be given to the theological teachers of India (3 persons suggested this)

Two Principals - Dr. Ezamo Murry, the Principal of Eastern Theological College, Jorhat and Rev. J. Sundaraj Raj, the Principal of Allahabad Bible Seminar, Allahabad (both of them physically impaired) expressed interest to introduce the course beginning from June 2006 academic session.

Dr. Wati Longchar proposed vote of thanks. A special word of thanks was recorded to Dr. Nyambura J. Njoroge for her encouragement and making the resources available. Thanks were due also to Dr. Sam Kabue, the Executive Secretary of EDAN, Ms. Lee Ye Ja and Ms. Angela Okola whose support, presence and insights enriched the participants. Thanks also recorded to Dr. Samson Prabhakar, Director of SATHRI and the staff of SATHRI for the coordination and also to the staff of Ashirvad who made the stay comfortable and an enjoyable one. On behalf of the participants, Dr. Samson Prabhakar expressed thanks to Dr. Wati Longchar for his effective leadership and ETE team members for this timely workshop. Dr. Samson said that this workshop will make a difference in Indian theological education and thanked all the members for this significant and valuable contribution to theological education in India.

The 5 day workshop and closing ceremony of the International Workshop on "Disability Discourse for Theological Colleges" came to a close with a devotion led by Rev. Sunder Singh, Lecturer from Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute, Chennai. Based on Luke 18:31-43, Rev. Singh gave a brief reflection, but a meaningful homily on the text.