More than one hundred representatives of churches, theological institutions, ecumenical organizations and specialized ministries from ten countries gathered in Matanzas, Cuba, on 1-4 October, at the Evangelical Theological Seminary (SET) to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the institution and reflect on theological teaching and its sustainability in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In a congratulatory letter, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), expressed the council’s gratitude to SET for decades of continued ecumenical commitment.
"The effort to link academic theological ecumenical and contextual theological education with practice is a vision that SET shares with the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, which also celebrated its seventieth anniversary this October," he said.
Participants at the event shared the emphasis and theological currents that have been significant milestones in the path of SET and expressed their joy over the remarkable service it has provided to ecumenical theological education and to the community in general.
The symposium was an opportunity to discuss the relationship between theological education and mission, as well as the need for theological institutions to meet the expectations of their member churches without undermining their particular religious and theological identities and legacy.
In his words of greetings to the rector of SET, Rev. Dr Carlos Emilio Ham, the first deputy chairman of the Council of State and Ministers of Cuba, Miguel Diaz Canel, said that SET not only contributes to pastoral and theological formation, but also that future pastors of various denominations "have a vision of social commitment and patriotic defense of our identity."
The jubilee statement released at the symposium expressed the vision that SET remains committed to discerning changes and complex dynamics that go through Cuban society in this second decade of the century, and that curricula, theological approaches and academic training faculty and methods of teaching and learning respond appropriately to challenges of a dramatically changing reality.
In his words during the unveiling ceremony of a commemorative plaque, Rev. Daniel Izquierdo, president of the board of SET, called upon the participants to "intercede for those who follow the path of those who preceded us, so that in the coming anniversaries this plaque is not seen simply as a ritual landmark, but as a signal of our own life dedicated to the service of God through this ministry to which He has called us."
In the closing session, participants endorsed a common letter to the churches in Colombia, in which they expressed their frustration with the outcome of the referendum on 2 October.
"The road to peace is not only the option to stop the war, but it is the only horizon that builds life and promotes reconciliation for the whole of Colombian society," reads the letter, expressing “solidarity with the churches and ecumenical bodies who have worked over many years for the Colombian people to walk in the paths of peace and justice."