Speaking at the conference

Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata, WCC progamme director for Public Witness and Diakonia delivering a keynote address at a conference of the World Federation of Diaconal Associations and Diaconal Communities.


Being held 6-10 September in Neuendettelsau, Germany, the conference is exploring the theme Hope in a fragile world.”

In his address, Mtata spoke about how diakonia or service of the church can align itself with Gods plan to give hope and a future to all people. How can ecumenical diakonia be a source of hope in a world characterized by fragility?” he asked. Is the world in a state of fragility?”

Different life forms are in serious fragility, he said. This fragility is not only exposure to vulnerability caused by violence but also caused by all forms of deprivation and neglect that diminish the quality of life or access to abundant life for all people,” he explained. Unfortunately, this fragility is not equitably distributed.”

It is structural, he added. Some parts of the world are more fragile than others,” he said. Some sectors of society are more fragile than others.”

Fragility is a justice issue, Mtata said. If ecumenical diakonia is going to give hope to a fragile world, it must address the violence, the neglect, and the justice aspects that deny all people of hope,” he said. "This fragility is manifest in many areas but particularly in the economy, society, governance, and environment.”

Economic fragility is a system of violent relations in which one part of the world has a parasitic relationship with the other, Mtata continued. If ecumenical diakonia is going to give hope to the world, it must not only address the immediate economic needs of those suffering such economic violence, it must also address the structural injustices that perpetuate such suffering and fragility,” he said.

He also addressed social fragility, governance fragility, and environmental fragility. Today social fragility is also deeply experienced where social polarization on the basis of different forms of identity politics create service disparities in such areas as health and education,” he said. One biggest cause of fragility today is failing governance in many parts of the world where there is a growing disregard for democracy and respect for human dignity,” he said. Even in countries that used to pride themselves as champions of democracy, we can see many signs of strain.”

To respond to these types of fragility, Mtata said, the church must recover a theology of caring communities. "This theology of care and compassion while addressing the present need must also attend to the structural conditions that cause the pain,” he said. Theology of diakonia that seeks to give hope to the fragile world must orient itself, not only to bandaging the wound, but also stopping the injury.”

Keynote address by Rev Dr Kenneth Mtata: Diakonia of Hope in a fragile world

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