Starting preparations for a Global Ecumenical Theological Institute (GETI) in the context of the 2018 World Mission Conference in Africa was a tangible result of a meeting of 20 ecumenical educators from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific. They met from 22-24 May in Halle (Germany) at the invitation of the World Council of Churches project on Ecumenical Theological Education (WCC-ETE).
Together they discussed ways of networking to enhance ecumenical theological education, which include curriculum development, sharing of learning models and new forms of partnerships between theological institutions and churches.
The meeting was motivated by the need to strengthen ecumenical education so theological institutions do not become more inward-oriented. To make the cooperation concrete, the group agreed to start the process for the formation of a network of ecumenical educators by contributing to preparations for GETI, planned for March 2018 in close collaboration with the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) and the Mission and Evangelism team of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
The vice-moderator of the WCC Commission of Ecumenical Education and Formation (EEF), Prof. Esther Mombo from St Paul’s University in Kenya, highlighted the importance of the network, which she described as “rejuvenating and giving a sense of focus for ecumenical theological education. Such an initiative is particularly relevant for the African continent in light of the denominational and religious rivalries.”
She was supported by the moderator of the EEF Prof. Rudolf von Sinner of Faculdades EST in Brazil, who said: “We perceived the challenges and needs of ecumenical theological education in various regions, which gave evidence of the importance of having a network and of taking the content and methodology of ecumenism further.”
The participants as part of the closing ceremony of the meeting in Halle affirmed the continuation of the network and stated:
“We have come together from many places, contexts and traditions.We have come together because we see the urgent need and affirm the importance of ecumenical education.
We have come together because it is our belief in the Triune God that nurtures us, and the vision of God’s Kingdom that gives us orientation.
We have come together because we believe to have been called to live out our common vocation in community with others.
We have deliberated on how to support and make GETI 2018.
We have deliberated on possible ways of collaborating as seminaries and theological faculties across the continents.
We commit ourselves to be part of this network.
We commit ourselves to strengthen and encourage each other through virtual and personal interaction.
We commit ourselves to share resources for ecumenical education.
We commit ourselves to contribute to the preparation and realization of the Global Ecumenical Theological Institute in Arusha in 2018.
We commit ourselves anew to a contextual and relevant ecumenical theological education.”