Pray for Afghanistan O God of mercy and of peace, We hold before you the peoples of Afghanistan; be living bread to those who are hungry each day. Be healing and wholeness to those who have no access to health care amidst the ravages of the pandemic Be a true home to all who have been displaced. Be open arms of loving acceptance to those who fear because of their gender, ethnicity, religious or political views. Be peace to those engaged in armed conflict, and those who live within its shadow. Turn our hearts and minds to your ways of just and gentle peace; open our eyes to see you in all acts of compassionate care. Strengthen our hearts to step out in solidarity with your suffering people, and hold us all in your unfailing love. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who emptied himself of all but love, in order to bring life in all its fullness. Amen
June 2019 | 8
02 Prayer for the World 03 CWM Sunday Litany 2021 RETROSPECT
Empire, Resistance, and International Solidarity
50 SEEN & HEARD
AT A GLANCE
08 Member Church News 12 Gift of Grace Keum takes 16 Jooseop ofﬁce as CWM General Secretary
Celebrate Election 18 CWM of Lydia Neshangwe as
Next Moderator of UPCSA
20 and The CANACOM 22 CWM MOU Signing Online Event Bethesda Counselling Centre
OUR PARTNERS IN MISSION of Ashes 43 AHellSeason or Heaven
56 IN OUR LIBRARY
54 TAKE A LOOK
VIEWPOINTS Plague and the 24 The Church’s Response 26 Crying in the Land Immigrant 29 An Interpretaton of Psalm 139 Truth-Searching 31 The Indigenous Ministry Committee of the PCT
to Hope in a 33 Dare Time of Pandemic of the Rise 38 People An Invitation to eDARE 2021
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DEVOTION | PRAYER FOR THE WORLD SCRIPTURE: Romans 8: 39 TOPIC: Extreme Weather & the Caribbean Many islands across the Caribbean have had to grapple with extreme weather conditions, and families have had to deal with personal loss. It has been reported that the island Barbuda was left uninhabitable, deserted, and empty for the ﬁrst time in 300 years in 2017. What loss! What pain! What devastation! When we look at the crises that natural disasters around the world continue to create, we ask, is God truly with us in times of crisis? Where was God when the disaster struck? Yet, in Romans 8: 39 God promises, "Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." What this says to me, is that when we go through pain, better believe it, God is in that pain. God feels everything we feel--is happy when we are happy and sad when we are sad. God is not a God who controls us, and if we take time to reflect, God is not the source of our miseries. Usually, and most likely, it is in our time of misery that we tend to call out to God; when we seek solace in God. Yet we blame God for such disasters that devastate and destroy, such as hurricanes and floods which have left in their wake untold destruction in many parts of the world. Instead let us take a stance of doing our part to protect our ecology, to be responsible individuals who are cognisant of the environment, animals, flora and fauna. When we see devastation, let us help our brothers and sisters in despair. Sharing each other's pain is our ﬁrst responsibility, and it draws us closer to God. It means recognising the value of life and our duty of care in that very moment. Our sadness should not weaken our faith, let us use our voices and our action to uplift suffering people, and let us pray for greater wisdom in the conduct of our affairs.
PRAYER Almighty God, we come before you with many questions even as we ask that you shield us under the cover of your wings. Grant within us the courage to persevere, help us to recognise our duty of care. Bring peace to those who’ve encountered loss. Cleanse our hearts and refocus our minds to be compassionate enablers of your ultimate will to build up your kingdom in love and mutual care. Amen Pearce Johnson Ecumenical Partner Source: CWM Daily Devotions (10 April 2018)
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CWM Sunday Litany 2021 CWM has devised worship resources to enable CWM member churches to share in worship which reflects on CWM Mission themes. The resource should be adapted to need and context, but we hope the words and images provide a stir to consider how God comes to us in woe and wonder to show the new worlds God creates amongst us。
On days of celebration Let us afﬁrm our belief: God loves life, The tomb is empty Christ is risen On days of sickness Let us afﬁrm our bodies God loves life, Death is defeated Christ is risen On days of sorrow Let us afﬁrm our solace God loves life, Repentance creates change Christ is risen On days of struggle Let us afﬁrm our deﬁance: God loves life, Babylon is fallen Christ is risen Today and to each other Let us afﬁrm our hope: God loves life, Christ is risen The New Creation is coming Sing Rising to life in Babylon …
Go out from Babylon, go free! Shout the news gladly; make it known everywhere: “The Lord has saved his servant Israel!” Isaiah 48: 20 www.cwmission.org 03
Isaiah 21: 6-9
For thus the Lord said to me: ‘Go, post a lookout, let him announce what he sees. When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs, riders on donkeys, riders on camels, let him listen diligently, very diligently.’ Then the watcher[a] called out: ‘Upon a watch-tower I stand, O Lord, continually by day, and at my post I am stationed throughout the night. Look, there they come, riders, horsemen in pairs!’ Then he responded, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the images of her gods lie shattered on the ground.’
‘Babylon’ names empire, oppression and judgement, in both Old and New Testament and in our life today. The opening reflection names Babylon in our midst, and especially points to and blesses those who risk bringing God’s counter world closer, this includes people like Ma Kyal Sin murdered in Myanmar and Alaa Salah, pictured here whose poetry helped inspire the popular rebellion against the Generals in Khartoum in 2019. These are the people who announce, like Isaiah’s watch keepers, that Babylon is fallen. They are reminders that the ﬁrst people to witness to the resurrection were women.
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Creation is hurting People are dying The powerful are proﬁting God is crying, God is calling! Our divisions are power constructs for the beneﬁt of the powerful Christ’s coming was to transgress the boundaries and borders of human life so that the New Heaven and Earth might come to subvert all our maps and means and methods of living. Let us rise up and proclaim in the face of Babylon that humanity is one The earth is being despoiled for the proﬁt of the few Christ’s coming to raise up the lowly and bring down the wealthy was to proclaim and honour the common wealth of the New Heaven and Earth. Let us rise up and proclaim in the face of Babylon that our economies must deliver life for all the community.
This logic of hierarchy permits the ceaseless exploitation of the earth and drives the climate crisis we are now experiencing. This same logic has also permitted racism placing not simply humanity at the pinnacle of creation, but particular aspects of humanity like maleness and Whiteness especially. This sin is endangering all of life and our work to repent, redeem and repair this sin is urgently required. This painting from an Aboriginal artist imagines the interconnection of life that resurrection does not break, but further blesses showing it is as fundamental to the new creation as to the old. Thus to live out the new creation now is to pull down the hierarchies Babylon has built. Reading
Romans 8: 19-23 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the ﬁrst fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
Response Creation is hurting People are dying The powerful are proﬁting God is crying, God is calling! Our systems are ﬁlled with hungers which harm and destroy Christ’s coming to challenge Empire’s hierarchy of life was to reveal that all created life is digniﬁed, afﬁrmed, included and blessed by God in the new Heaven and Earth she brings Let us rise up and proclaim in the face of Babylon that the last must be ﬁrst, those who want to be great must be the servants of all, God wills newness of life for all of life.
The reflection here may focus on the hubris of humanity which constructed a hierarchy of being, which has separated human beings from the rest of created life.
Isaiah 41: 17-20 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 18 I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. 19 I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive; I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, so that all may see and know, all may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.
We cannot underestimate the struggle before us in announcing that Babylon is as fallen as the tomb is empty. This image
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like the text reminds us not to despair, that in the concrete of Babylon, the new creation breaks forth. It breaks out from below of course so we need to consider where we should look for signs of God’s counter creation. And because it is a creation counter to ours, we are also in danger of tearing up God’s new creation because we want to preserve the order of the old. Our work then is as gardeners tending the new world God has sown amongst us. Response Creation is hurting People are dying The powerful are proﬁting God is crying, God is calling! Let us rise up and proclaim in the face of Covid and all that makes us sick from Babylon that we can no longer live in ways which destroy the earth, that Christ’s coming was to show God so loved the world that all the world’s lives would be gathered up in the promise of the New Heaven and Earth. God amongst the vulnerable, and the exploited, God with the uprising movements, God within the aching polluted earth, God beyond the conﬁnes of Babylon, You call us to repent and change and seek ways of living in which life flourishes, justice grows and peace takes hold.
Christ has left behind him the tombs of Babylon and stepped forth into the ﬁrst day of the New Heaven and Earth. He bids us follow, to come together as communities which show how life can flourish still. https://bit.ly/3imun3v
Song of uprising
Hugh Masekela Send me I wanna be there when the people start to turn it around When they triumph over poverty I wanna be there when the people win the battle against AIDS I wanna lend a hand I wanna be there for the alcoholic I wanna be there for the drug addict I wanna be there for the victims of violence and abuse I wanna lend a hand Send me
CWM commissioning prayer We call on each other, in Christ’s name, to root this vision of life flourishing communities in our communities, contexts and make clear our witness to Christ in the changes we seek to bring in the midst of the crises our world faces. Christ has left behind him the tombs of Babylon and stepped forth into the ﬁrst day of the New Heaven and Earth. He bids us follow, to come together as communities which show how life can flourish still. We confess and pledge that we are Christ’s disciples and we will embody in our work and witness that we are arising, shining, planting, praying, singing and dancing the alternatives to Babylon’s death and destruction.
Creation is hurting People are dying The powerful are proﬁting God is crying, God is calling! Rise up! Proclaim that Babylon has fallen! In word and world we hear you cry: ARISE! The light of the world has come: SO LET US SHINE We lift up our eyes: TO SEE YOUR NEW WORLD COMING And in doing justice: PROCLAIM THE PRAISE OF THE LORD And so, we pray, counter in and through us systems of despair and dread WITH SIGNS OF LOVE AND PEACE And so, we pray, counter in and through us systems of hatred and death WITH LIVES FILLED WITH LOVE AND DEFIANCE And so, we pray, counter in and through us systems of division and oblivion WITH MOVEMENTS OF JOY AND TRANSFORMATION
AT A GLANCE | MEMBER CHURCH NEWS AFRICA United Church of Zambia (UCZ) releases fourth pastoral letter on COVID-19 Following the Zambian government’s implementation of heightened measures to curb escalating cases of COVID-19, the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) has issued an updated COVID-19 advisory to its congregations. This pastoral letter by UCZ General Secretary Rev Chipasha Musaba explained that the government had proposed measures to limit frequencies and durations of religious meetings, as COVID-19 super-spreaders were large gatherings. While they continue their mission of witnessing for Christ, the church leaders agreed that they need to live cognisant of the reality of COVID-19, and the time and season they live in. Rev Musaba also reminded them of safe distancing and hygiene measures, and to continue to pray for healthcare workers on the frontlines. Detailed measures for worship services, fellowship group meetings, funerals, weddings and more can be downloaded in this letter: https://www.cwmission.org/ wp-content/uploads/2021/0 6/4TH-PASTORAL-LETTERON-COVID-19.pdf
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Appeal for famine response by Money for Madagascar Union of Welsh Independents (UWI) is currently raising funds for UK-based charity Money for Madagascar (MfM)’s emergency appeal, as a developing food crisis in Southern Madagascar which is facing its worst drought in 40 years, has pushed over a million people to starvation. For its Bicentenary Appeal 2018-2019, UWI had raised over £156,000 to support several projects in Madagascar, an island where two Welsh missionaries were sent by the London Missionary Society (LMS) over 200 years ago.
MfM’s famine feeding programme is run in partnership with ALT MG (Andry Lalana Toahana), a reputable Malagasy NGO who has run food security, education and emergency feeding projects in the South for over a decade. To date, MfM has delivered over £20,000, and is seeking famine aid to continue providing nutritious meals daily to all 650 children in 2 primary schools in Amboasary Sud.
For more information and to donate, please visit https://moneyformadagasc ar.org/famine-appeal/
PACIFIC Etaretia Porotetani Ma'ohi (EPM) continues call for emancipation for Maohi Nui
During the 136th Synod of the Etaretia Porotetani Ma'ohi (EPM), it called for the Maohi people to be emancipated from “the plundering of its resources, nuclear experiments and bribes of millionaires”, according to a report by RNZ (Radio New Zealand). The call for indigenous Maohi people to be free from enslavement is one that has been reiterated for at least a decade. In 2011, EPM afﬁrmed its support of the re-inscription of Maohi Nui on the United Nations’ list of Nations to be decolonised.
EPM has also appealed to the United Nations Human
Rights Commission on behalf of the people affected by French nuclear testing in the Maohi Nui islands. Under its “Waves of Destruction: Nuclear imperialism and anti-nuclear protest in Maohi Nui” project, a delegation consisting of EPM President Rev François Pihaatae and a youth delegate tabled petitions at the UN 4th Committee for Decolonisation and denuclearisation issues in October 2019.
Paciﬁc Climate Justice Summit 2021: Just Recovery from COVID-19 requires climate justice and environmental stewardship, says Paciﬁc Conference of Churches (PCC) General Secretary During the Paciﬁc Climate Justice Summit in early August, Paciﬁc Conference of Churches (PCC) General Secretary Rev James Bhagwan said that any just recovery from COVID-19 must incorporate facets of justice such as life-changing advocacy for the marginalised; and institutional, civil, corporate and political responsibilities to end unjust systems and structures. Climate Justice and Environmental Stewardship were likely to be the Paciﬁc’s biggest challenge, with diverse policy responses required for the different
Teeruka and Director of PCT Welfare and Service Centre for the Disabled (Pingtung County) Chen Fen-Chin had met at a CWM event in November 2019. forms of climate-induced migration, Rev Bhagwan opined. For example, community relocation due to extreme events calls for different support and protection compared to what is provided when slow-onset environmental pressures lead to staggered migration of individuals or families,” he said. In the process of renewing and strengthening the sacred cords of ecology, economics and ecumenicity, the Paciﬁc Region needs to develop its own indicators based on the wellbeing of the whole community, an alternative to the unbridled capitalism that the world chases.
EAST ASIA Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) and Kiribati Uniting Church (KUC) collaborate to provide wheelchairs for children with disabilities The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) and Kiribati Uniting Church (KUC) have made a joint effort spanning close to a year for physically challenged Kiribati children to receive wheelchairs. The Kiribati School and Centre for Children with Special Needs (KSCCSN) Pastor Iuti
Later in September 2020, Ms. Chen learnt about the ministry in Kiribati. Located in Tarawa, KSCCSN caters to children with disabilities from the preschool up to primary level. Established in 1991 as a non-government institution, KSCCSN relies on external grants and contributions from parents to fund operations. Existing wheelchairs for physically challenged students were unusable and beyond repair, yet without domestic wheelchair manufacturers, there was no way to purchase replacements. Over the next nine months, various parties rose to the occasion to serve, overcoming logistical and administrative challenges. These included staff who coordinated the donation of wheelchairs by a Taiwanese assistive device manufacturer in Kaohsiung, and a logistics company which arranged for overseas shipping. 12 wheelchairs arrived in KSCCSN in June, a step towards the children gaining mobility and independence. www.cwmission.org 09
SOUTH ASIA Church of Bangladesh (COB)’s Barishal Diocese provides free healthcare services in community
Earlier this year, Church of Bangladesh (COB)’s Barishal Diocese served its community through an eye camp at the St Mary’s Clinic of Jobarpar, in partnership with Islamia Eye Hospital. They were able to provide free medical assistance to over 53 people, and under the Diocese’s supervision are ﬁve health clinics to care for those unable to travel to the cities for a regular checkup. Over at Narikelbari Health Clinic of St Jacob’s Church, they pay door to door visits to provide healthcare for the villagers. In particular, they aim to ensure that the elderly is getting proper medical attention and children are receiving regular vaccinations. The Koligram Health Clinic in St Peter’s Church conducts similar door to door services in its local community as well.
Church of South India (CSI) initiates climate-resilient
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churches, schools and communities Since May, the Department of Ecological Concerns of the Church of South India (CSI) synod has been organising virtual classes with resource persons for clergy, students and teachers to develop a strong theological and theoretical foundation in climate resilience. In the CSI-initiated campaign for Climate Resilient Churches, Communities and Schools, these stakeholders are encouraged to practise CSI’s green protocol of carbon neutrality, mitigation and adaption. Students are challenged to apply these lessons in their homes, paving the way to community transformation.
EUROPE First virtual conference of the International Congregational Fellowship During the Reformation in the 16th century, some English Protestants motivated by desire for a change in worship, became Separatists who sailed in the Mayflower to New England. To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of Mayflower, Congregationalists around the world were invited to join International Congregational Fellowship in its ﬁrst online Conference on 23 – 25 July this year.
Besides sharing “Mayflower stories” of Congregationalism worldwide, the virtual conference was also a time of fellowship and learning from the current activity of Congregational churches around the globe.
Seeds of church reform possibly sown during the pandemic, says Union of Welsh Independents (UWI) General Secretary In the Spring issue of Union Welsh Independents (UWI)’s Union Matters, the UWI General Secretary Rev Dyfrig Rees shared his reflections on rethinking church during the pandemic. Rev Rees opined that when Congregationalism was going strong in the mid-twentieth century, a church-centred framework had worked for at least four generations of Christians. However, the pandemic has allowed many congregations tired and frustrated by this framework of entrenched ministries and a multiple meetings and events to ask, “what and where next?” The UWI General Secretary saw the blessings that came in the wake of many churches mastering
technology and venturing into alternative events during the pandemic lockdown, freed from enslavement to tradition and adherence to church buildings. With borders transcended and the gospel readily available onscreen, the church is aware of its place, responsibility and contribution as a medium in God’s plan for the world, he wrote. He was hopeful that reform may now have begun in the land, if worshippers are prepared for a vision that will enable them to be a faith community that strangers to the faith might want to belong to.
Presbyterian Church in Wales (PCW) shares short videos on lessons learnt by ministers during COVID-19 Ministers and workers of the Presbyterian Church in Wales (PCW) will be revealing their experiences and lessons learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic in a series of short video clips over the next few months. In these videos, they discuss the future of their ministry, the adjustments they have made over the past year and a half, and how they intend
to act on what they have learnt.
make the choice to remove face coverings.
View videos at: https://www.youtube.com/w atch?v=Vy_F0tv39CA&list=P LH4JpblhvRT5zIGFcl65-ruq WLp46CVCI
Read URC’s updated guidelines at https://bit.ly/3ARgakW
Mask wearing no longer legally required, but recommended: change in guidelines for churches in UK With a relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions in England from 19 July, the United Reformed Church (URC) has summarised and updated its guidelines for churches. Also included is a response addressing those weary of using face coverings, by Moderator of the URC’s West Midlands Synod, Rev Steve Faber who has been leading the church’s advice during the pandemic. Wearing face masks in public buildings are no longer legally required and local churches are unlikely to decline entry to those who do not wear masks. However, their continued use is highly recommended, to protect those who are at risk from COVID-19 yet are unable to get vaccinated for various reasons. Having received the Director of Public Health’s report that the case rate in their borough has reached a peak, Rev Faber expressed his hope that only when they reach a phase of declining case numbers will they
CARIBBEAN Youths Rising to Life in the Face of COVID-19: Joint Youth Initiative by CWM Caribbean & Europe regions Conversations on mental health awareness and coping during and beyond the pandemic will be the theme of this year’s joint youth initiative by the CWM Caribbean and Europe regions. Held from 2-3 September, 10 am (Jamaica), 4pm (UK) time, this year’s initiative is for youths struggling with mental health challenges and wish to dialogue and seek advice from peers. Themed “Youths rising to life in the face of COVID-19”, this Zoom event provides a safe space for participants to be guided in conversations on the life-denying reality of mental health challenges, practicing mindfulness during the pandemic, and coping while remaining committed to formal education. Please contact your member church leadership or CWM regional staff at email@example.com g or vickeisha.burke@cwmission .org for more information or to register. www.cwmission.org 11
AT A GLANCE | GIFT OF GRACE Raising COVID-19 awareness and building taps around Kiribati Uniting Church (KUC) A week before Easter in 2020, Kiribati Uniting Church (KUC) experienced the challenge of the new normal when it had to cancel large-scale Easter celebrations for the ﬁrst time in Kiribati history. This was in response to the President’s request to all citizens and churches, broadcast on radio, where he spoke about how Easter should not be the cause of COVID-19 transmission, and the need to exercise caution due to Kiribati’s vulnerability. After further discussions on this pre-emptive move, KUC ofﬁcers then made in a similar announcement on Radio Kiribati to all KUC members.
For the KUC General Assembly that went ahead as planned in September, an additional member in each KUC member church sat in as their COVID-19 representative. When the delegates arrived, they learnt of the CWM Gift of Grace, and that a week of sponsored COVID-19 training workshops would
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be dedicated to learning from speakers about COVID-19. It was a relief for delegation members whose airfares were funded, knowing that CWM was accompanying them in this difﬁcult time. During half of the two-week Assembly they conducted discussions on the way forward in the new normal. These COVID-19 workshops facilitated by the Health Department, allowed them to learn to make their own protection gear. They were encouraged to practise safe distancing, hand washing, and home gardening for a balanced diet.
Words of thanks from our beneﬁciaries “I would like to thank the Board of Directors and the Secretariat for ﬁnding a way to walk with us, members, in such a time as these when humans and the world almost come to a standstill. Without the Gift of Grace we would not be able to raise awareness among the members of our remote islands, as Kiribati is scattered around 3.5 million square kilometres. I trust that KUC members are now fully aware of the deadly pandemic and with the help of the Kiribati Government we have practical measures to empower our members.” “We are so thankful that the CWM gift of grace has made history in Kiribati during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Purchasing materials for building water taps around the Maneaba (gathering hall with open walls) was also made possible, as they introduced the culture of handwashing in the Assembly venue. These included PVC pipes with taps and glue, and cement for the base of the tap and other plumbing needs. Taps were installed in the biggest Maneaba in KUC headquarters to raise the level of sanitation, making both locations equipped for use as COVID-19 quarantine centres if need arises.
Presbyterian Church of Korea supports ecumenical projects In accordance with the long-term capacity development plan of the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK), the PCK has worked with the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and the Research Centre of the Presbyterian Church of Korea (RCPCK) to strengthen the relationship between churches. The CWM Gift of Grace funded two local ecumenical projects – the NCCK’s "Reinforcement Project of
Nonface-to-face Communication Capability in the 'with-Corona Era’" project and RCPCK’s “Korean Church Overcoming the Disaster Ages of COVID-19 and follow-up Measures” Book. To strengthen its ability to conduct non-face-to-face communications with churches, the NCCK re-modelled its existing conference room into one with a video conferencing system that can be shared with member churches in Korea. Thanks to the Gift of Grace, they also built a studio equipped with facilities for video content production and development, and installed an air sterilisation system for virus protection.
The second project brought to fruition was RCPCK’s book “Korean Church Overcoming the Disaster Ages of COVID-19 and follow-up Measures”. Intended for distribution to delegates of the 105th General Assembly of the PCK and its local churches, the book addresses the way forward for the Korean church having coped with the COVID-19 crisis. This CWM solidarity grant went towards preliminary research meetings,
supporting the research for the book manuscript, book publishing, and proceeding fees. Words of thanks from our beneﬁciaries Thank you for your cooperation so that the NCCK can operate this project smoothly.
The NCCK frequently holds meetings and conferences to hear their own opinions from the NCCK's member churches and institutions. This project was conducted with a priority on preparing a safety system equipped with a non-face-to-face video conference system from the coronavirus. As the existing conference room itself was not large enough, the number of people to accommodate was limited. However, there was some positive feedback for NCCK's rapid establishment of a non-face-to-face video conference system and providing it to member churches and institutions for easy use. - Rev. Tae Hyeon Kim, Director of R&D, Ecumenical Relationship Department
I take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the CWM and the PCK for their ﬁnancial support and prayers in publishing. The PCK has had the conference with members of the PCK and delegates of Korean Churches with a theme of "A Conference on COVID-19 and the Korean Church Hereafter" at Seobinggo Onnuri Church, Seoul, on 15th June 2020. The PCK has decided to publish this book as the result of the conference. We evaluated that this book would be very useful for the ministries of Korean church of the COVID-19 period. Having selected ministers and scholars with professional knowledge and arranging several meetings with leading groups of the PCK in order that their ideas would be reflected continuously in the policy of COVID-19, we believe we will be able to ﬁnd out new ways of Korean church's ministry through this publishing work. - Rev. Dr Young Sang Ro, Director of the RCPCK
The United Church of Zambia (UCZ) strengthens COVID-19 protection measures, reaches out to vulnerable communities Through CWM’s Gift of Grace grant, The United Church of Zambia (UCZ) was able to adopt several www.cwmission.org 13
measures in their ﬁght against COVID-19. It facilitated the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all UCZ healthcare institutions, and they acquired and branded wash stations with COVID-19 messages. “The United Church of Zambia is sincerely very thankful to CWM for its Gift of Grace, and its help rendered during this difﬁcult time of the global pandemic (COVID-19). The Church was in dire need as the government is not providing PPEs for our Mission Hospitals even though some of our Health Institutions have been turned into COVID-19 Isolation Centres around the country. This has caused Health Personnel working in these facilities to be more vulnerable to COVID-19.”
In addition, UCZ reached out to vulnerable communities in Kafue by providing food and groceries. 150 people living with disabilities or HIV, caregivers and elderly each received 25 kg bags of Mealie Meal, cooking oil, salt and beans. The UCZ Synod Bishop and other ofﬁce holders were broadcast live on national 14 INSiGHT AUGUST 2021
television with Ministry of Health stating the donations they received, in keeping with the government directive. This public announcement of CWM’sGift of Grace, in turn, spurred many churches to make monetary donations signiﬁcant to the life and work of Church.
“quality of Health Care.” Said Bishop Festus Chulu on behalf of Synod ofﬁce presenting assorted items to Lubwa Mission Health Centre Management Team. This is like a dream come true. You do not know what you have done for me and my family, today we will have a decent meal after a long time. Thank you.” “Thank you, Synod and all our partners as you have touched many lives.”
At the end of the lockdown, The UCZ’s Projects Department embarked on a programme raising awareness of how people could safeguard themselves during “life in the new normal”. These messages were aired on church-run radio stations in Lusaka and on the Copperbelt, with 28 “COVID-19 champions” equipped as Trainer of Trainers for peers in their communities.
Words of thanks from our beneﬁciaries “We are so thankful to the entire Church Leadership and partners like CWM and that these items will go a long way in improving the
- Jagaimbo Clinic at Maheba Refugee Camp, located in North-Western Presbytery of UCZ
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JOOSEOP KEUM TAKES OFFICE AS CWM GENERAL SECRETARY
Rev Dr Jooseop Keum has now assumed ofﬁce as the 6th General Secretary of Council for World Mission, on 1 July 2021, following his appointment at a Special Members’ Meeting held on 31 March 2021. Dr Keum, an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, and formerly the Distinguished Professor of World Christianity at the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary and Director of the Korea Institute for Future Ecumenism, was inducted into ofﬁce, formally taking over the leadership mantle from Rev Dr Collin Cowan at a moving inauguration service held online on 5 July 2021. The inauguration service, attended by a wider cross-section of the CWM family – directors, member churches, ecumenical colleagues and staff, was a time of worship to signal the ofﬁcial start of Dr Keum’s ministry. During the service, there was a sending and receiving ceremony presided over by the Moderator and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, Rev Dr Jun Ho Shin and Rev Dr Changbae Byun, respectively, and CWM’s Moderator, Rev Lydia Neshangwe. Dr Keum takes the helm of CWM at a Kairos moment for mission engagement in the wake of an unprecedented shake-up in the global missional landscape. In his greetings, Rev Dr Jun Ho Shin, remarked that the landscape of Christianity is rapidly changing and the global ecumenical movement is facing difﬁculties. He implored CWM
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to continue to contribute to the world mission, to pay particular attention to the ecumenical movement and to take up leadership in the transformative discipleship for world Christianity, especially at such a time as this. The Moderator pledged the support of the Korean churches to Dr Keum as he leads CWM to rise to the challenge. In his sending remarks, Rev Dr Changbae Byun observed that Covid-19 had caused a great crisis to the global community; and that it was of urgent necessity for global ecumenical movement and mission agencies to approach the ministries of justice, peace and life with a fresh perspective for the changing context. He expressed conﬁdence that Dr Keum would provide the leadership required of CWM for such a time as this, the basis on which he delightfully released Rev Dr Keum from and on behalf of the PCK to CWM. In receiving Dr Keum, on behalf of Council for World Mission, the Moderator, Rev Lydia Neshangwe said, “We receive Jooseop with gratitude, with love and with joy. We promise to take care of him – we will pray for him, we will praise him so that his work becomes energised, we will persevere together with him to achieve the vision of the work that is before him.”
Rev Neshangwe received Dr Keum as a gift and a blessing to the organisation; afﬁrmed the gifts that he brings; and promised that CWM would encourage him to grow and enhance the various partnerships of CWM, “all to the glory of God who has given him to us”. “I am delighted to pass the baton to my esteemed brother, friend and colleague, Dr Jooseop Keum,” said the outgoing General Secretary, Rev Dr Collin Cowan, as he ofﬁcially handed over leadership to the new General Secretary. Addressing Dr Keum, he added, “as I pass the baton to you, I would like to say that you are called for such a time as this and you already know that it is ‘not by might nor by power, but by God’s spirit’ that you will be able to take charge of this organisation and lead it with the kind of prophetic vision that is rooted in the very belly of your passion and commitment.” As a symbolic gesture of passing the baton, Rev Cowan placed the Bible, that he had kept and used in the ofﬁce while he was General Secretary, on the desk of the General Secretary, and prayed that Dr Keum, would ﬁnd similar comfort and inspiration that he found whenever he needed to turn to the God who called him to this ministry. In his inauguration speech, Dr Keum acknowledged the great conﬁdence placed on him by member churches in their unanimous decision to appoint him to lead CWM in the transforming mission of the triune God, as well as his profound gratitude to, the PCK for sending him to this post. He also thanked his colleagues and ecumenical friends for their enormous support, with special thanks to Rev Dr Ioan Sauca, Acting General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) who brought greetings on behalf of the WCC; Rev Dr Celestine Kiki, General Secretary of Communauté Evangélique d’Action (CEVAA), who brought greetings on behalf of CEVAA and the United Evangelical Mission (UEM); and Rev Dr Christopher Ferguson, General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), who brought greetings on behalf of WCRC. Addressing his predecessor, Dr Keum said, “I will strive to lead CWM as a life flouring community to building
upon the excellent legacies of your remarkable leadership and tireless commitment to the global missional movement.” Dr Keum recounted his journey within the CWM, highlighting the missional perspective and praxis, in which he was formed, developed and matured since his youth. Having been inspired by, journeyed with, and contributed to the missionary movement for the last three decades, including opportunities to serve as the Executive Secretary for Mission Programme from 2003 to 2007, and sent to serve as the Director of Commission on World Mission and Evangelism at the WCC, thereafter, he said he was honoured to be called back to his ‘home’ to respond to this call based on his faith in the missionary God. “I will try my best to pay back the debt of love owed to CWM by re-envisioning and rejuvenating prophetic mission thinking and action in this pandemic-stricken world, where the survival of the ﬁttest is the only rule that is functional at the moment. We believe that the power of love can transform the world of hatred and injustice. It is time to transform ourselves ﬁrst in order to transform the world.” Arguing that we may be trying to respond to the challenges of the new normal with the structures and methodologies of the old normal, Dr Keum said, “I believe that it is time for us to bring radical insights and innovation to God’s mission in today’s context of Covid-19 pandemic, if we would be relevant and effective.” The Board of Directors and the entire CWM family looks forward to working with the Rev Dr Jooseop Keum as its General Secretary. Rev Keum is uniquely equipped and ready to lead this extraordinary mission organisation, working at the cutting edge of modern mission, especially in light of the CWM 2020-2029 Strategy Framework the roadmap for the prophetic journey to be pursued.
CWM Celebrates Election of Lydia Neshangwe as Next Moderator of UPCSA
Council for World Mission celebrates the news of the election of its Moderator, Rev Lydia Neshangwe as the Moderator-elect of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) 2023 – 2025. The General Assembly, at its recent gathering, elected Rev Lydia Neshangwe as the Moderator-elect to take over from the current Moderator, Rt Rev Sipho Mtetwa, in June 2023. Rev Lydia Neshangwe is the second woman to be elected to this high ofﬁce of the denomination, after the Rev Dianna Vorster who was the Moderator in 2000. In his announcement of this election, UPCSA’s General Secretary, Rev Dr Lungile Mpetsheni, observed that “the election of Rev Neshangwe is one of the manifestations of the UPCSA’s resoluteness to neutralise patriarchy and to promote the transnational character of the denomination, as she comes from Zimbabwe”. Rev Neshangwe will serve both CWM (2020 – 2024) and UPCSA simultaneously. CWM General Secretary, Rev Dr Jooseop Keum has sent his heartfelt congratulations to the newly elected leadership of the UPCSA. In his message he commended the UPCSA for taking the lead in acting on its longstanding commitment to free the church from the grip of patriarchy and to allow the church’s inherent diversity to be reflected in its character. “I am conﬁdent that both Rt. Rev. Sipho J Mtetwa and Rev. Lydia Neshangwe will offer strong leadership with a clear vision and relentless commitment to the churches of the UPCSA to transform themselves into life flourishing communities”. In pledging commitment to supporting the newly elected leaders, Dr Keum said, “CWM warmly welcomes the new leadership into the family and will continue to celebrate their mission and achievements as they begin to serve the UPCSA”. CWM is conﬁdent that Rev Neshangwe will continue to serve the UPCSA with distinction and that, in this role as Moderator, she will bring fresh insight and inspiration to the life and work of the Church. We pray God’s anointing upon her and the UPCSA.
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Training in Mission A CWM youth programme This year we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Training in Mission Programme (TIM). CWM has been investing in equipping the young people for the ministry and mission of its member churches since 1981. The pedagogical process of the TIM programme is the see-judge action-act model of learning. Over 360 young people have so far been changed for life with a new practical and radical understanding of what witnessing to Christ means. In every church, TIM participants are seen as living expressions of CWM’s understanding of partnership in mission. We will organize celebrations, including a thanksgiving service and webinars in November 2021, inviting the alumni and leaders of the member churches. The celebration will give CWM, member churches and partners a chance to: Give thanks for the work of the TIM programme and offer up our rejoicing in the contribution the participants have made in all areas of the church’s life and beyond; Gather as many of the former participants and connect them afresh; and Offer a platform for further insight and contribution into the current CWM mission ethos: Rising to Life More about TIM40 will soon be available here: https://www.cwmission.org/tim40/
BETHESDA COUNSELLING CENTRE
The Bethesda Counselling Centre (BCC) of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI)
is a therapeutic Centre for restoration and renewal, founded on the belief that providing affordable, advanced counselling for people with a wide range of needs is a necessary ministry of the Christian community. The Centre was started in late 2007 in response to the growing need for counselling in a rapidly changing Cayman, where it was felt that an emphasis on Christian values and perspectives in professional, therapeutic healing and strengthening of the whole person would better address the core problems being experienced by many in our modern society. BCC provides professional, curative and preventive counselling/therapeutic intervention to facilitate healing and wholeness of individuals, couples, families and groups within a caring and understanding environment, thereby fostering their emotional and psychological growth. The Centre has remained faithful to its mission and ministry, modelled on Christ’s view of the inherent worth and potential of each individual. The counsellor ensures that clients receive treatment in a safe and secured environment. The maintenance of a non-judgmental approach and a yet deep sense of pastoral care coupled with the ease of bureaucracy augur well for the Centre as several clients have made positive comments on these aspects of our service. The Centre is located in its own separate ofﬁce in George Town, Grand Cayman, to provide privacy and convenience of access for the many persons working and attending schools in George Town. The Centre offers strict conﬁdentiality and privacy which is vital in this very small community.
“As a mission of the Cayman Islands Regional Council, BCC has become an integral part of the vision and decision-making process of the Council.” 20 INSiGHT AUGUST 2021
The ﬁrst Director and Counsellor employed for the Centre was the Rev. Joseph Crawford. In October 2011 Rev. Dr Yvette Noble Bloomﬁeld succeeded the Rev. Crawford and she served until December 2015. The Reverend Dr Dave Hazle served as Director and Counsellor from January to August 2016. Ms April Lewis is a Masters level Licensed Mental Health Clinician and has been serving as the Director and Counsellor since November 1, 2016. Ms Cathy Gomez chairs the Board of Management of the Centre and the members represent a broad spectrum of practitioners from the legal, medical, educational, accounting, counselling, and social work professions.
Ms April Lewis Rev Joseph Crawford
Staff and Services The BCC is staffed by a clinically qualiﬁed and experienced Counsellor/Therapist, offering professional and conﬁdential services. It welcomes all those seeking counselling, regardless of faith tradition, gender, sexual orientation, income, social status etc. Each Client is treated with respect and their core value as a human being is honoured. The following services are offered at the Centre: Marriage Counselling Pre-marital Counselling Couples Counselling Group Counselling (Workplace/ Social Context) Families and Children Counselling Individual Counselling-Spiritual Direction/ Resolving inner struggles Bereavement Counselling Relationship Counselling
offered prayers at the Crime Prevention Seminar hosted by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIP), The Guest Speaker was the Hon. William Shagoury, Custos Rotulorum (Principal Justice of the Peace) and Chairman of the Clarendon Crime Prevention Committee (Jamaica) and he is a frequent presenter on the Radio program ‘Worship the Lord’.
During the government shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, many encountered with issues related to anxiety, stress and depression related including relationship issues. With our physical ofﬁces closed from 25 March 2020, we began to provide online counselling sessions and tele mental health services including on weekends and evenings. The COVID-19 Mission Initiative grant from the Council for World Mission (CWM) enabled us to provide 48 such counselling sessions free of charge An Intake Form is completed by each client and signed by the client and the counsellor. A conﬁdential for persons affected by the pandemic, with all ﬁle is maintained for each client. Notes taken by the administration work and counselling done by the counsellor are conﬁdential. Information on a client is Director from residence. released only in accordance with the indications by the client on the Covenant which accompanies the Statistics and projection Intake Form and on the signing of the Release of Several sessions were conducted daily. Information Form. Over 100+ session hours were completed quarterly. Our intake has increased signiﬁcantly over the years, Workshops and training were conducted with issues presented have been varied, including on stress and anxiety-related issues. and mostly issues of depression/anxiety as well as We now see 50 to 100+ clients quarterly, a relationship issues. number that we expect will grow further. Increase in presenting issues of Through the years we have also provided services to anxiety, depression and relational. various entities such as the Cayman Islands Increase in client’s inability to pay for Government, hospital staff, local non-United sessions due to loss of employment. Churches, Scotiabank Cayman, Cayman Cancer Society, and DHL International. The Director has also The Bethesda Counselling Centre has been acknowledged for ‘pastoral counselling and support’ in the book ‘I Then Shall Live With A Grateful Heart’ – written by Deborah Elizabeth Webb-Sibblies ©2014. The Cayman Islands Regional Mission is grateful to Ms Carol Pearson (2007- 2017), Mrs Mary Bowerman (2017-2018) and Mrs Leoany Williams (2018-present) who have served as the Administrators at the BCC over its life-span. The Rev. Donovan Myers, Rev Tara Tyme and the Rev. Euthman Wray have assisted in the provision of counselling support for clients during the years. www.cwmission.org 21
The Council for World Mission (CWM) and the Caribbean and North America Council for Mission (CANACOM) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Signing Online Event
Long standing partners in mission, the Council for World Mission (CWM) and the Caribbean and North America Council for Mission (CANACOM) renewed their partnership through a revised MOU in a momentous occasion on 7 July 2021. The occasion was marked by an online signing event via the Zoom video conferencing platform, where the audience witnessed and applauded the moment of renewed partnership and the exciting possibilities for ongoing partnership in the Caribbean and North America.
The Commission on Women and Men in Mission was regarded as a joint programme between CWM and CANACOM.
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Members of CWM’s Board of Directors, members of CANACOM’s Finance and Administrative Committee and CANACOM’s Council Members were present together with the signatories to the MOU, CWM’s newly appointed General Secretary Rev. Dr. Jooseop Keum (Top left) and Chair of CANACOM Rev. Carlington Keen (J.P.). During the event, CWM’s outgoing General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Collin Cowan shared with CANACOM’s Education in Mission Secretary, Mrs. Jennifer P. Martin, in the historical recounting of the partnership journey between CANACOM and CWM.
Participants of Young Adults in Mission (YAM), a joint programme between CWM & CANACOM, clearing the land for planting at Mount Olivet Boys Home in Jamaica, 2009.
CWM Moderator Rev. Lydia Neshangwe offered the closing charge referencing Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10. She noted that the partnership and its outworking restored the fact that "hope is real". The audience was reminded of the importance of walking in partnership as two were better than one, since both could help each other. The event ended with both organisations giving an update on their work and stating their commitment to the continued partnership, especially in the Caribbean Region.
Group Photos & Moderator
The Plague and the Church’s Response By Rev Dr Alun Tudur, UWI minister in Cardiff
t the beginning of the year (2021) the Rev Dr Alun Tudur was invited by the Welsh Congregational Historical Society to deliver a lecture on ‘The Plague and the Church’s Response’. In accepting the invitation, his initial reaction was to think that there might not be many sources available on this topic. But he soon realised that this was not the case as it appeared to be a proliﬁc subject. Plague has always been a part of human history. Here is a synopsis of the lecture.
Plagues in general In his book, The Rise of Christianity, Rodney Stark notes with surprise that historians, and especially Christian historians, have ignored the far-reaching signiﬁcance of plagues on religious, social and economic developments.i For example in the history of the Roman Empire the impact of serious infections on the populations has been largely ignored until recently. In the past it was thought that the sudden fall of the Roman Empire was the result of immorality and the power of the Barbarians, but it is now thought that it all stemmed from the impact of a serious plague that killed a large percentage of the population. John Davies, in his deﬁnitive history book Hanes Cymru, (The History of Wales), maintains that there were similar circumstances in the early history of the Welsh when he wrote: No doubt the English success after 550 a.d. can be attributed partly to the devastation that the Britons faced as a result of the plague. It originated in Egypt in 541 a.d., and reached western Britain by 549 a.d., when Maelgwn Fawr died of it. It seems that the English were not affected by the plague, as they they did not have, as the Britons had, a direct link to the Mediterranean.ii
Plagues in Wales There are a number of factors, as we now know, that contribute to the spread of infections which cause the socially deprived to suffer the most. Preventing the spread of infection requires knowledge, sanitation, clean water and nutritious food. Before the second half of the 19th century these were not widely available in Wales. A major contributor to ill health in Wales was poor diet and hunger. The Welsh diet for centuries was based on oatmeal, rye flour and barley bread, and foods such as porridge, ‘bwdran’ (gruel) and ‘llymru’ (flummery). These foods were rich in carbohydrate but deﬁcient in protein and vitamins. More often than not subsistence was entirely dependent on local harvests and when these failed, hunger followed. Throughout the centuries Wales was a mostly poor country and there were periods of famine in the 18th and 19th centuries. The infections that mostly affected Wales over the centuries were the ‘Pla Du’ (Black Death), the ‘brech wen’ (smallpox), the ‘Fad Felen’ (Yellow Plague or yellow fever), ‘gwahanglwyf’ (leprosy), ‘haint y nodau’ (pestilence), the ‘clefyd chwysu’ (the sweats), ‘geri marwol’ (cholera), typhus and ‘darfodedigaeth’ (tuberculosis).
Stark, Rodney, The Rise of Christianity, (Harper One, 1996) p. 74
Davies, John, Hanes Cymru, (Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1990), p. 67. Also Glyn Penrhyn, Newyn and Haint yng Nghymru, (Llyfrfa’r Methodistiaid Calﬁnaidd, Caernarfon, 1962.) p. 33
Gruffydd, Eirlys, Ffynhonnau Cymru, cyfrol 1, (Carreg Gwalch 1997), p. 24
The work of N. Culpeper translated into Welsh by D. T. Jones, published in Llanrwst, 1818
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Churches’ response to infections The churches responded in two ways to the plagues. Firstly, spiritually and secondly practically. Spiritually, some saw the coming of a plague as a sign of God’s judgment on immorality. This understanding is based on Bible verses stating that God punishes people with plagues, e.g. book of Deuteronomy, chapter 28: 58–61. It is likely that in the 19th century, the churches’ main response to the plagues was to call people to repentance and faith in Jesus so that they would be assured of eternal life before death. The faithful were also encouraged to pray for deliverance from infections. Secondly, practically there was little they could do to prevent the spread of plagues. Nevertheless, Christians throughout the centuries showed great love in their willingness to care for those who were suffering. They realised early on that some diseases were infectious and that isolation was not always possible. They would have to continue to supply water and produce crops for food despite infections.
Wells Until the late 19th century, wells were used to seek healing e.g. Trisant’s Well not far from Devil’s Bridge, Ceredigion, west Wales. Here, there are three fountains next to each other. It was believed that one was able to heal eye defects, the second was effective on skin disorders and the third used for all manner of diseases.iii
Medicines Medicines were also prepared, usually from plants and herbs. The twelfth century Meddygon Myddfai (Physicians of Myddfai), near Llandovery in Carmarthenshire, were wellknown as herbalists, and a collection of their remedies are to be found ﬁrst in the Llyfr Coch Hergest (Red Book of Hergest) manuscripts dating from the fourteenth century. There were a number of medicinal books such as the Brittany Herbal or Llysieulyfr Brutanaidd in exsitence, containing numerous recipes and instructions on how to prepare medicines, or physics, to deal with various ailments.iv
Concluding thoughts Pandemics change the direction and tack of history, they also change what happens in the life and testimony of the Christian church. With the plagues the church faced new challenges and there are things that we can learn today from their successes and mistakes. Pandemics force us to reconsider the foundations of our theology. How do we understand the coming of serious viruses today in a Biblical context especially in the light of scientiﬁc developments? We foolishly and perhaps selﬁshly thought that due to scientiﬁc advances, pandemics would never again be a real problem to humanity.With Covid-19, we realise that we cannot take this for granted and that things are not under our control. Indeed, humanity never dictates the events of history. God does. Alun Tudur was born in the city of Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales in 1962. He attended St Paul’s Welsh medium primary and Friars High School. The family attended Pendref Congregational Church where he came to faith and was called to ministry. He attended the Bala-Bangor Independent College, Bangor, where he read Theology and was awarded a PhD, for his thesis ‘O’r Sect i’r Enwad. Datblygiad enwadau Ymneilltuol Cymru, 1840–70’. (From Sect to Denomination. The development of the Nonconformist denominations of Wales, 1840–70.) In 1986 he was ordained as the pastor of Ebeneser Independent Church, Wrexham, and then in 1995 at Ebeneser, Independent Church, Cardiff where he is currently serving. He is married to Vikki and has two grown-up children, Gwilym who is married to Alex, and Lowri. He is the author of a number of books and is the chief editor of the congregational weekly magazine, Y Tyst. Interests include songwriting, reading and watching rugby, his playing days ended many moons ago.
Crying in the Land By Omi Wilang
oil and ground, we call it land. But what exactly is in the name of land?” In a highly competitive and proﬁt-oriented era, land has become an important tool for the business development. The Han Chinese people believe: “No land, no fortune. On land, one builds his fortune!” Under this mindset, Han people has been good in land management. But what does land mean to the indigenous people of Taiwan? The Apache believe: “Man is but part of the ecosystem centred by land.” The indigenous tribes in Australia look at the land as an intimate member of the family like brothers or sisters. As to Tao people, one of the indigenous tribes of Taiwan, they pray and pay tributes to the trees before cutting them down to make boats with lumbers. "Natural forests are our close relatives," asserted Pusin Tali , Dean of Yu-shan Theological College and Seminary, in his book “The Existential Theology of the Indigenous Peoples of Taiwan.” Indigenous peoples worldwide see land as the origin of “life”, because a great majority of them make their living on land. Furthermore, land gives the meaning of life to indigenous peoples. Land is indeed the source of the tribal culture formed by history, folktale, religion, and liturgies that constitute their ethnic identity. The relationship between people and their land is so intimate; it’s just like water to the ﬁsh and the soil to the vegetations. In recent years, we have seen the land of Taiwan being
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exploited extensively by interest groups with approvals from the government administrations. From the high mountains to the coastal areas, no matter where the land is located at hilly sites, sprinkle-lake areas or open country, the interest groups could always package the land in the name of economical development to advance their own proﬁts. The government and interest groups ignored the outcries of the soil. They barely care about the natural and necessary conditions to nurture and restore the soil.
Tao people (Yami), Taiwan 1897 (No.7187). Image by 鳥居龍蔵（1870-1953）.
“The government and interest groups ignored the outcries of the soil. They barely care the natural and necessary conditions to nurture and restore the soil.”
Let’s talk about the true story of "The strugglings against ACC(Asia Cement Corporation)" as a vivid example. Right before 1969, on the land of the Indigenous Taiwanese, the government made a censorship which would facilitate people to register the ownership of the land. The law requires the land solely for agricultural use at the time. Indigenous people could claim their land ownership when they have cultivated the land for 10 years. Therefore, before the ownership is available for ten years of working, the indigenous Taiwanese only has the right to cultivate the land. In 1973, the ACC arrived and made application to the Township Ofﬁce of Shoulin Village in
Hualien District in order to lease the reserved land for the indigenous in Shoulin and Fushi village. In Fushi village, there were several tribes, namely, Huhus, Skadang, Lowcing, Ayu, Kulu etc. They lived together as a community. And the site of mining of ACC fell in the area of tribe of Ayu. At that time, the nice and simple-minded people of the Taroko tribe knew very little about the edicts prescribed by the Han people. And Township Ofﬁce of Shoulin Village helped ACC persuade people to accept the deal by telling them that they would receive sizable stipends from ACC as a compensation for the land leasing. And once the lease expires, the land would be returned to tribal people. Facing the generous offering, the Taroko people laid their trust on the government and agreed to accept the offer suggested by the Township Ofﬁce. It was absolutely incredible the Township ofﬁcials would dare make forgery paper in the name of land owners as “Statement of Discarding the Right of Land Use " and related documents. More than 100 land users’ statement were forged in the same day coincidentally that involving 270 pieces of land in total. To no one’s knowledge, someone made the applications to renounce the users’ right for them at the land ofﬁce for the indigenous people. The right of land users was therefore foreered betrayed by such cheating acts. Whenever the indigenous people raised their petitions to reclaim their users’ right, the government ofﬁcials were always sided with ACC, by claiming that:“ACC has legally obtained its mining right. In addition, since ACC is the largest cement company in the country, it would adversely affect the cement industry of
President Tsai apologises to the indigenous peoples on behalf of the government. (2016/08/01). Image by 總統府.
Taiwan if their mining right is banned." Helplessly, the tribal people were not able to ﬁght against this injustice effectively. The problem was carried on until 1995, when Mrs. Chung-Chau Tein, a Taiwanese woman who married in Japan, returned to her hometown, Shoulin Village, with her Japanese husband. This is also the critical time when “ACC was holding negotiation for a renewal of lease extension.” The inside story of this land exploitation ﬁnally broke out. In the 22 years period, the Township Ofﬁce of Shoulin Village has secretly “changed the users’ right” of those lands, located at the mining site of ACC in the reserved area of tribal people, by administrational tricks. When the tribal people tried again to reclaim their right
of land use by legal proceedings, they were told the case had exceeded the period of the Statue of Limitation since it was 22 years old. To ﬁght for the unjust treatment, Mrs. Tein organized a Self-Help Association Against the ACC by the name of "Return Our Land!” Ms. Tein devoted all the time and resources of her later life to engage in the social movement of defending the right of the tribal people against the unjust treatment of ACC. Certainly, the local tribal people and related NGO had been working really hard in the struggle against ACC for more than 30 years. Even though Taroko Self-Help Association, working hard with NGOs from across the country in order to make their voices heard, is determined to make the petitions to the government by holding protests, press
A traditional house of the Puyuma People in Taitung, Taiwan. Image by Benson KC Fang.
conferences, seminars, and public hearings and etc., the Magistrate of Hualien County kept avoiding to respond directly to this issue by taking political advantages amid legal tactics and administrative expediency. Only recently, a turning point was emerged in an amendment draft bill of “Mining Act” submitted by the Executive Yuan on December 5, 2017 under the instruction of Premier Lai Ching-te. Once the amendment of Mining Act is enacted in the future, ACC will be required to re-submit the EIA(Environmental Impact Assessment) for her 66 mine sites. In a press conference, the Executive Yuan outlined 6 key points of this Mining Act amendments. The fourth point is to add time limit on extension of existing mining sites in order to safeguard the rights and beneﬁts of indigenous peoples. The future extension of mining sites have to be in line with article 21st of "The Indigenous Peoples Basic law", meet the requirement of “all extensions must consult with the indigenous people for their permission and willingness of participation, and has to allow tribal peoples to share a reasonable amount of proﬁts in using their land.
After 44 years-long of strugglings, the Taroko people strongly believe the Rutux, their God, is the reigning creator of all beings. He enabled the Taroko people live in harmony with the Nature according to the law of Gaya. However, the greediness of interest groups and the collusion of the government has spoiled the beautiful forest in the mountain of tribal Ayu and the vicinity area. The excessively exploitative scenes of the site makes the Taroko feel their faith and teachings of Gaya system is severely breached. As it’s impossible to recover the land to its original state, it makes the Tatoko people feel they were renounced and cursed by the Rutux. It’s evident in the past 44 years, the groaning of the land of tribe Ayu and the struggles of the Taroko people have accumulated a great outcry and accusation. In less than a week, more than 200,000 people nationwide signed up the petition against ACC from extending its inappropriate mining development early in June last year. The feeble weeping of the land of Ayu had inspired waves of uproars, sending a gigantic message of the people’s determination to ﬁght against the unduly exploitation of the land.
This story by Omi Wilang, Programme Secretary for Indigenous Ministries (Society) is taken from “Taiwan Indigenous Mission Stories”, a project made possible by CWM’s Hearing God’s Cry Programme.
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An Immigrant Interpretation of Psalm 139 By Cláudio Carvalhaes
O God, you have searched us and known us well.
You know when we cross the desert and when we swim through the Rio Grande; you discern our fears from far away.
You search out the path of our people, the immigrants, in the desert, you ﬁnd all of the shoes, toothbrushes, underwear, cruciﬁxes, and the blood of our people. In prisons, you ﬁnd our children alone, completely lost, and parents with a hole so great in their hearts that they are swallowed by grief. You are acquainted with all our desperation.
Even before a word is on our tongue, or a tear is shed O God, you know us so completely. You know we are lost for words here.
like the heat of the desert and the cold water of Rio Grande you surround us.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for us; we believe in you so much, you wouldn’t believe it.
Where can we go to ﬁnd your Spirit? We go to El Norte fleeing from hunger, violence, draught, climate change and devastations, where can we ﬁnd the security of the earth moving in cycles, your presence?
If we knock at the doors of churches, we never know if we will be welcomed or they will call La Migra; if we try to go to Christian seminaries you will not be there. For they are afraid of their status and only concerned with their deep thoughts and research.
If we take the wings of the morning, and go ﬁght on the streets for our people, they will come with the police and their laws and put us in jail.
“If we knock at the doors of churches, we never know if we will be welcomed or they will call La Migra; if we try to go to Christian seminaries you will not be there. For they are afraid of their status and only concerned with their deep thoughts and research.” 10
We wished your hand could lead us, protect us, and hold us fast. But we have nothing.
For if we say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around us become night’
Darkness we are; We are the night that shines as the day, We are darkness to the world and to You too.”
From: Cláudio Carvalhaes, “This Is Just The End: On How Not To Go Mad These Days,” in the book Preaching in/and the Borderlands, J. Dwayne Howell and Charles L. Aaron Jr. Editors (Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2020).
30 INSiGHT AUGUST 2021
Indigenous Hunting Rights on Trial in Taiwan. Image by CNA via https://international.thenewslens.com/article/148221
The Truth-Searching Indigenous Ministry Committee of The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) By Sudu Tada
Not many people know, from a historical point of
view, that Taiwanese indigenes belong to Austronesian peoples. In the early modern period of Taiwan, there were over 60 indigenous groups; now, only 16 groups are ofﬁcially recognized by the government: Amis, Paiwan, Tayal, Bunun, Pinuyumayan, Rukai, Tsou, Saisiyat, Tao, Thao, Kavalan, Taroko, Sakizaya, Sediq, Hlalua and Kanakanavu. Each group has its own rich traditional heritage playing as the engine of a vibrant culture. The religious belief of each group becomes their ethical disciplines and the core value transforms into each tribe’s spiritual anchor in modern society. Though, after several centuries of colonisation, Taiwanese indigenes do enjoy some degree of quality life, certain beneﬁts of consumption and some achievement of education; however, the indigenous well-being does not go well in general, on the contrary it becomes even worse as a matter of fact. On the rights of politics and economics, Taiwanese indigenes are forced to accept compromise for
mainstream interests. The lands handed down from the ancestor are exploited case by case by the ruling government together with some private companies; young girls can go nowhere; young boys can only choose heavy-duty labour, such as miners and ﬁshermen. This leaves Taiwanese indigenes wandering on their own land. The most astonishing fact is the decline of traditional culture, especially the disappearance of language. These harsh conditions result in a very difﬁcult problem of self-identity for Taiwanese indigenes, even causing the crisis for survival. Luckily, the Indigenous Ministry Committee of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan becomes the light of hope for Taiwanese indigenes to ﬁght against the empires. Historically, the Christian belief of Taiwan indigenous churches went through four major phases: “the initial stage under persecution”, “the positive stage of revival”, “the fragile stage of bottleneck” and “the development stage of city mission”. Until now, we still follow the spiritual disciplines from our ancestors,
“The lands handed down from the ancestor are exploited case by case by the ruling government together with some private companies; young girls can going nowhere; young boys can only choose heavy-duty labors, such as miners and ﬁshermen. This leaves Taiwanese indigenes wandering on their own land.” that is the teaching of Jesus Christ: endeavouring to preach the gospel of God and playing the role of ‘being the light and the salt’ in this generation. Doing all these ministry is to respond the call from God and to serve God and the people in loyalty. In the missionary history of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, the Indigenous Ministry Committee played a critical role and has a very important meaning. Established on 15th June 1954, the Indigenous Ministry Committee has the purpose of helping indigenes to save their culture and language from extinction. It also helps protect their own rights and beneﬁts. On the other hand, in order to speak and stand up for Taiwanese indigenes, this committee intends to cultivate these indigenous peoples in different professions. The Indigenous Ministry Committee has three major tasks: evangelical mission, Christian education and community service. On evangelical mission, the executives of Indigenous Ministry Committee have proceeded with some special strategies, such as supporting small-size church and establishing city-companion church neworks; we also hold some professional training
courses designed for the church leaders and assist to build a well-formed presbytery/district organization structure for indigenous groups. Regarding the Christian education, we plan to publish the Bible and hymns in each indigenous language. Also, teaching materials on culture and gospel, such as the indigenous languages, training resources, even the hymns for indigenous children will be edited. In addition, an internet digital resources for the indigenous adolescent Christian education will be set up for far-fetched and rural churches. When it comes to community service, we have some courses related to the empowerment of indigenes, such as URM (Urban Rural Mission), TPN (Third-Party Neutral) and OST (Open Space Technology). Besides, we collaborate with groups of indigenes to form the self-help associations and work together for some indigenous issues. We have established a platform to make possible exchange between the indigenous groups and the politicians, and also create an economical platform for the development of indigenous economics and industry.
An Indigenous priest surrounded by his clansmen during a festival at a village in Chishang township, Taitung county. Image by Sam Yeh/AFP.
32 INSiGHT AUGUST 2021
Dare to Hope in a
Time of Pandemic By Rev. Dr Collin Cowan
SERMON AT THE ACADEMIC OPENING SERVICE OF THE FACULTY OF THEOLOGY AND RELIGION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PRETORIA GENESIS 45: 1-11; 1 PETER 1: 1-7
e are living in a broken world, a world that is more and more being deﬁned by distrust, discord and disruptions of all kinds. This is not the world that so many of us desire and it is not the world that deﬁnes the content of our character and the quality of our contribution to society. Nonetheless, we cannot ignore this fact nor deny the truth. We all know that something is radically wrong with the world as it is; and that we yearn for a flourishing life, amid the destruction. We live between pain and possibility. We struggle with the meanness of humanity as we search for the meaning of our humanity. We hurt as much as we hope. We know that, as US Vice President, Kamala Harris, likes to say over and again: “We are better than this”. It is in the context of such a world that my topic for today’s sermon ﬁnds grounding – “Dare to hope in a time of pandemic”. Arundhati Roy, responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, says: Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality”, trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to ﬁght for it.
Indeed, I agree that we are ready for this daring “imagination” and this hope-ﬁlled “ﬁght” because we know that the coronavirus is only a glimpse into the pandemics that plague society today, snufﬁng life from all of us. In this regard, this imagination and ﬁght are for the soul of our humanity and the integrity of God’s creation. Therein lies the basis for hope and the path to our freedom and future. “Hope: the language of life” was the theme with which I started my journey with Council for World Mission. At our Assembly in 2012, we deﬁned hope as a “statement of discontent”. We argued that such a statement speaks of hope as the language of life, the indomitable and audacious conviction… that with God all things are possible”. And we declared, with deep certainty, that we would “not settle for mediocrity or second best”. In his book, “Dare we speak of hope?” Alan Boesak, who was the keynote speaker at that Assembly, rightly suggests that hope functions within the framework of fragile faith; and that
unless we are ready to acknowledge the reality of what his friend calls “the pitter-patter of little defeats”, we may forget too soon that hope is a gift of God; and that only in the assurance of God’s possibility can we dare to boast. Boesak is right. He has helpfully framed our afﬁrmation in a series of heart-searching questions, which force us to divest ourselves of the pietistic, easy-going, unconsidered demands of hope; and to ground it, instead, in the suffering and struggle of those who constantly feel the knee of the oppressive system on our necks, chocking and snufﬁng life, or the quest for it, out of us. George Floyd’s tear-jerking plea, “I can’t breathe”, is in itself hope speaking the language of life. “I can’t breathe” is another way of saying, I am being robbed of life; the system is on my neck, destroying me. I am aware of what you are doing, it hurts, I do not like it and I am calling for help to secure my freedom. “I can’t breathe” is a statement of hope, the language of life. It states that even in this dark moment of fear and helplessness, I will state my claim to life; I will continue to believe that there still remains “a soul of goodness in things evil” (Shakespare); and like the drowning man, I will hold on to that last straw as an afﬁrmation of life. In my introductory comments to the 2020 eDARE webinars of CWM, I said this: The revelations of Covid-19 are stark. It has cast a spotlight on endemic societal issues of racism, poverty and gender-based violence. Covid-19 has exposed how grave inequalities in healthcare systems are closely tied to the contest to maintain ‘empire’s economy’. Indeed, I agree with those who see beyond Covid-19 a pandemic of inequality.
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Not much has changed for the better since. As the Covid-19 pandemic worsens, we learn that those most severely affected those least able to self-isolate and to work from home; and those most likely to catch the virus and to die - are poor black and brown people. As the pandemic prevails, the challenges multiply. The extent of economic inequality and its impact on communities is enormous. The prolonged lockdown in several countries around the world, the new variant that is arising all over and the manner in which the vaccines are being distributed and applied, are among the issues creating untold tension, anxiety and discontent among the peoples of the world. We are seeing increased signs of psychological breakdown and social disintegration.
As my term as General Secretary for CWM comes to its close, I look back with joy and delight at all we were able to accomplish; of the generosity of spirit and goodwill that emanated from every corner of our constituency; and of the unity, we experienced in diversity, the mutuality we embraced despite our differences and the conviction we shared that another world is not only possible but necessary. But let it be said that we are not absolved from the course of racial prejudice, white supremacy and the extent to which black people either “stand aside and look”, as spectators, or innocently collude with the privileged and the powerful. I have seen how racism, regionalism and the ugly side of politicking have injured us, immobilised us and threaten our integrity as a justice-focused mission agency.
And still, I hold on to hope as the language of life with no less audacity and determination. I try to combine Alan's provocative caution, born of experience with the struggle..., with Augustine's deﬁance, in naming hope as anger and courage combined. I have taken the time to observe Alan’s refusal to regard Augustine’s deﬁnition as an academic exercise, despite the views of some liberationists, who highlight the inconsistency of Augustine’s perspective of hope with his own contribution to the scourge of racism and slavery. Maybe this inconsistency will teach us how prone we all are to wander, how prone to leave the God we love. In my own reflections, I have tried to look beyond personal flaws of Augustine to the power of his words. I hear him saying that hope is the dirty work of the Christian faith journey - not a pietistic dream and lofty expectations but hope that can only be expressed in action. It is the active working out and working through of the meaning of faith and of God in the midst of disruption, disappointment and discontent. So, I say to you, as long as I can feel anger, discontent, disappointment then I know that hope is alive, begging for its companion cousin, courage, to surface and to act, to do something about my anger, my outrage, my pain - if no more than to do what that Rwandan woman, in Boasak’s work, did as she tried to balance the calling of her name, as the next to die, with the words she heard from Jesus – “I will be with you, I will protect you”. In her book, “I heard the killers call my name”, referenced by Boesak, Immaculee Llibagiza jumped up, from her hiding place, and shouted to the group of women in hiding with her - as her killers stood just inches away from them - “We are safe, trust me, everything is going to be ok”. Tears came to my eyes as I watched Don Lemon break down
on CNN as he listened to Harvard Professor of Public Philosophy, Cornel West, reject the notion that we could afford to stand aside as spectators and watch, for a whole nine minutes and twenty seconds, as a police ofﬁcer murder our brother. “No, no, no”, says the professor. But yes, says reality. It happens every day. Most times to choose otherwise is too costly. That was the reason for my tears. But in “This is the Fire”, I hear Don Lemon saying: anger, solidarity and vision are the things that make change happens. I want to hold on to these words as I look for the change – anger, solidarity, vision. I know deep down in my spirit that that which enables us to break through the bitter and agonising experiences of brokenness, discouragement and despair is hope, God's gift of
resistance to pressure, resilience in the face of danger and resurrection certainty, despite the threat of death. The story of Job is such a story. He lost his children. He lost all his material possession. He is now wasting away with the worst kind of skin disease. His wife bids him curse God and die, because, according to her, death is far more gracious and generous a gift than this condition of life. His friends blamed him for his condition, seeing it as punishment for his sin; and accused him of failing to acknowledge the error of his ways. But Job refused to resign to any of these calamities that beset him. Instead, he declared: "For I know that my Redeemer lives and that at the last day he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I will see God" (Job 25: 19).
Solidarity Against Hate Crimes. Image by Paul Becker (Grove City, Ohio)
Easter Vigil 2021 (Quingua Church) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Image by JF Velasquez Floro.
Yes,” says Job, “My heart faints within me (19: 27) and I have reason to be impatient (21: 4). Of course, my complaint is bitter because it seems to me that God’s hand is heavy, despite my groaning (23: 2); but, despite all this, “As God lives… as long as my breath is in my nostrils, my lips will not speak falsehood and my tongue will not utter deceit (27: 2-4). Fragile faith, audacious hope (Alan’s framing). Whitney Houston captures well the psalmist’s fragile faith and audacious hope (34): “Long as I live and troubles rise, I hasten to the throne”. This psalm echoes the cry of the poor, the destitute, the downtrodden, the broken and those who struggle beneath the weight of a heavy load. The Lord hears our cry and pities every groan. Hear the psalmist in the negro spiritual: “I will not suffer, I will not beg for bread; the Lord is my provider, I will not beg for bread”. St Peter, speaking to the exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, encouraged and afﬁrmed them in these words: "In all this – suffering, grief, troubles and trials - you greatly rejoice, even though your faith, like gold, is reﬁned by ﬁre – tested and tried - may result in glory, praise and honour, when Jesus is revealed." The call here is to appreciate the value of persecution without yielding, perseverance without compromise, pressing on without giving in and even of anger without losing the plot. I need not emphasise that these are emotions through which some of us go every single day of our lives. And that which keeps us going is the “audacity to hope” (Obama). Fragile faith, yes; but never without the audacity to get up, and stand up for our rights and never give up the ﬁght (Bob Marley). "Discontent is the nagging of imagination" (Glennon Doyle, Untamed) – To imagine another world is to accept that something is wrong with the one we
36 INSiGHT AUGUST 2021
know and that we are discontented with it as it is. If discontent is the nagging of imagination then imagination is the nagging of courage and creativity, the spurring on of a ﬁght for the change that is needed for another world, a different world, a better one. I see discontent and imagination as the capacity to see what is wrong and what is possible; courage as the will to ﬁght for our dream; creativity as the power to explore alternatives to that which is wrong; and the change, we seek, as possibility alive and ready to be grasped, the outcome of our struggle, our hope in action. The story of Joseph is an ugly one with a happy ending. It is okay; because that is the inspiration for hope - the capacity to consider the possibility, that another world is, indeed, possible; that heaven is better than this, that better days are coming; that we shall rise again. That which inspires us to hope is our suffering and struggle, our anger and discontent, our longing for something better and our getting involved in a “good ﬁght” (John Lewis) – doing something about the system, which dehumanises us, tramples upon our dignity and steals our dream and our freedom. Joseph and the entire family of Jacob is a story of hope. It is the long journey of piercing pain, persistent perseverance and promising possibility - the pain of brokenness, of jealousy, of betrayal, of enslavement, of deception, and of imprisonment. But no less so is it a story of promise, of possibility and of purpose. Theirs was a dysfunctional family from the onset, with Jacob marrying two sisters and favouring one over the other. As is expected the children of these sisters are split along the lines of Jacob’s favoritism –
Joseph and Benjamin on one side and the others on the other side. Joseph becomes the dreamer, or at least his dreams are given prominence, taken seriously and used as a weapon against his brothers. And his brothers reacting violently. And so, the long saga of brokenness and pain is recorded in Gen 37-45. The brothers are torn apart; their father is devastated; everyone is hurt. Even the reunion is painful. But it is a story of hope and I am using it to encourage us to rise from the paralysis of pandemic. The story ends with Joseph, now a prominent ﬁgure in Egypt, confronting his brothers and revealing himself and them to each other. “We are brothers” he said. We belong to one another. All the ﬁghting served only to divide and destroy us; we are no better for it. The pain of one is the pain of all and none of us is secure until all of us are. But we can kiss each other and weep together because now we know that God meant all of this for good. God looked way beyond the corridors of our limited horizons to this day of our reunion, renewal and reconciliation. God used our brokenness to open doors for us. As Arundhati Roy rightly suggests, “It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next”. According to Romy Hausmann, hope is the power to ensure that that which we believe never dies – that freedom is coming, that Babylon is fallen, that truth will prevail, that there is a way, even when there is no sign, at all, that there is or could ever be a way; that
God is and that God is the comforter and protector of the brokenhearted. Hope is believing in the power of community, the gift of family, the joy of friendship, the possibility of embracing our common humanity, the energy to resist - hope is the power to believe that these things never die. “Dear Child: Her escape was only the beginning” is a novel. In it, Hausmann speaks of the grim experience of those in the story - abducted, affronted and abused in every conceivable way. This is a gripping story of hope alive, in which Hausmann presents the stubborn resistance, reminiscent of the trauma that so many of us experience and endure. Hope alive is the capacity to hold on; to reject abuse, scorn and indignity; and to claim strength to ﬁght back in order to preserve that last speck of our inherent value. The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed or rather has helped us to come face to face with other pandemics that are plaguing the society – the pandemic of inequality, of injustice, of systemic racism, of white privilege, of discrimination, all of which have contributed to the brokenness of the social fabric, the deterioration of human relationships and the destruction of the environment. But despite all of this, as the people of God, we are blessed with God’s gift of hope and the capacity to hope – the capacity to see beyond dangers, toils and snares and the courage to act for change. Churches have done extremely well in responding to the challenges posed by Covid-19 and have demonstrated immense creativity, courage and commitment to identify ways to accompany the communities in which they are located. It is in this regard that the University of Pretoria must receive and embrace God’s gift of hope. The University is called and gifted to be a beacon of hope so that those who pass through these sacred walls; those you train for Christian ministry may lead the people of God, in this tumultuous world, to rise, sing and dance and cry to the song of hope. If indeed, they will ﬁnd “the language of life in faith and politics, which CWM deﬁnes as hope and Boesak ” invites us to search for, then this is your task. Dare to hope in a time of pandemic is a call to reframe the story - refuse to accept defeat as a possibility, resist the dream-stealers and death-dealers, defy the forces of death and destruction, reimagine life with dignity and purpose and reclaim God’s life-flourishing alternative as the measure and the standard by which we will live with others in community. Dare to hope, dare to imagine a different world, dare to enable life-flourishing communities, dare to be. Amen.
People of the Rise
An invitation to eDARE 2021
By Jione Havea
eople of the Book” refers to people who profess and commit to their monotheistic scriptures (that is, scriptures which sanction belief in and regulate teachings about only one God). In the world wide web of religions, this reference points speciﬁcally to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. We in Christian communities, however, do not understand our Book (Bible) in the same way. This is unavoidable: with respect to insights and convictions, no faith community is one-size-ﬁts-all. Diverse and conflicting interpretations are inevitable. Notwithstanding, our communities will be helped if we open our eyes wider and lift our minds from the traps of local struggles – and read the Bible anew. We may not agree in our interpretations but being open to new inspirations and to alternative imaginations can help keep at bay those of us who are quick to enforce our own understandings of the Bible on others. From the beginning, the Bible has resourced public discourses. And since the Reformation and the burgeoning of publishing presses, the Bible has become a popular and a public book – made to speak into local and social struggles, around intercommunity agendas, and behind transnational missions. Over the ages, the Bible has also become a tool, a marketable product, and even a weapon. In other words, the Bible is not locked up in faith communities. Truth be told, the Bible is not the only book that shapes Christian faith. Faith and church communities are not shut out from the rest of the world. Rather, like the Bible, faith and church communities exist in public places. In this connection, two of the key concerns that eDARE 2021 will help us in are to be church, and to rise to life,2 in public spaces.
22-year-old Sudanese student Alaa Salah during an anti-Bashir protest in Khartoum. Image via Povo News.
See information about eDARE 2021 at https://edare.cwmission.org.
38 INSiGHT AUGUST 2021
Taliban I began to write this reflection the day after the Taliban entered Kabul (Sunday, 15 August 2021). Time will tell what the next chapter of the Taliban regime will look like, and the costs to lives and cultures in Afghanistan and in other parts of the world. Attention will be drawn ﬁrst to the human costs and at some point, the tolls to the rest of creation will be accounted. The Pashto term “Taliban” translates as “students,” referring to a religious community whose teachings and practices are based on strict interpretations of Sharia (Islamic law, rooted in the Quran). In some corners within and beyond the Muslim fellowship, the Taliban are celebrated as faithful interpreters of their Book. But in other corners, within and beyond the Muslim world, the Taliban’s interpretations are harsh and uncivilised. With respect to interpretations and theologies, when the tallies are taken, the Taliban will draw mixed judgments. Notwithstanding, they have reawakened fear and trauma across the landlocked Afghanistan. But how different are the Taliban from “faithful students” of Christianity and Judaism who propagate strict interpretations of our Bible? My intention here is not to demonise the Taliban or the Muslim world in general, nor to discriminate against the Quran, but to point to the need to open our minds when we, as People of the Book, read our scriptures. Our denunciations and praises of the Taliban, and of other students of monotheistic scriptures, apply to our Christian communities as well.
Armed locals protest in support of the Afghan government in Jowzjan Province during the 2021 Taliban offensive. Image by Abdulbasir Ilgor (VOA).
Contexts Today, the contexts in which we do church and seek to rise to life include the Taliban, Covid-19, Climate change, and many other local and global concerns. There are too many of these concerns to list, but i present some of them here according to the keywords in the program of eDARE 2021: Oct 25 Racism, Necropolitics, Deﬁance, Queer, Childbirth, Rape, Body Oct 27 Labour, Menstruation, Fools, Syrophoenician Woman, Aboriginal Mural, Massa Jesus,Leviathan Oct 29 Disability, Dalit, Wind, Beasts, Technology, Inter-carnation
See “CWM Strategy Framework 2020–2029” at https://issuu.com/cwmission/docs/gs_report_2021/2.
These concerns will be addressed by artists, authors, and poets (read: students of the Book in a variety of ways) who will engage one another with the aim to help their own communities and the eDARE participants work out ways to do church and rise to life in today’s public spaces. The panel of artists, authors, and poets have gifts and creative ways to open our eyes wider and lift our hearts beyond the tips of our noses and ﬁngers. One of the artworks used to promote eDARE 2021 is from the Syrian Banksy project in the Kesh Malek Organization. This work is one among many that depict the Sudanese activist Alaa Salah, when she stood on a car to inspire and activate her people during the 2019 uprising to remove President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Syrian Banksy - Image by Kesh Malek Organisation.
This work celebrates the courage of Alaa Salah, herself a student, and at once encourages viewers to rise against oppressors in their own contexts and push back against the scriptural interpretations that justify their behaviours. In Rastafari-speak, the work encourages “chanting down Babylon” (rising up against the oppressors) and the “shitstems” (interpretations) that authorize them. This work is set in a public place, so it is a public text, inviting viewers to embrace and testify to Liberty. This work brings Alaa Salah to the mind of viewers who, at the current time, would wonder where Liberty stands for the people of Afghanistan, for the victims and survivors of Covid-19, for the lives at the frontline of Climate change, and for the many people who struggle with the concerns listed above. How might we study our Book in conversation with this artwork? How might we do church and rise to life in public spaces where Liberty is not yet alive with flesh and blood?
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Life As students in different contexts and opportunities, we will not agree on what the Book says much less what it means and requires. So be it. Such is our lot, for we are humans with flesh, blood, faith, desire, and will. But we can learn to be People of Life who point the way to Liberty. This is one of the dreams of eDARE 2021 – that we do not stop at rising to life but that we also point to and enable life for the many people who do not see and feel Liberty. Put another way: eDARE 2021 is an event at which artists, authors and poets will help us learn from one another how to irritate shitstems6 that enslave7 our practices, communities, missions, and theologies.8 On this platform, we will learn to detour9 from illness, from poverty, from injustice, from corruption, from oppression, from unhopefulness, from hypocrisy, from strict interpretations, and from several other limitations and restrictions.
Rise In my humble opinion, we need to go further to also become People of the Rise. This is where and when we free ourselves from the traps of individual and local struggles, in order that we may see further and think deeper. Many artists, authors, and poets have released me from such traps,10 and in their shadows i close this reflection with the prayer of a young Tongan Australian. Tau’alofa Anga’aelangi’s prayer is titled “Ko e Fonua mo e Moana” (The land and the sea).11 The prayer is confessional, where Anga‘aelangi apologizes to mother Fonua (land) and guardian, teacher Moana (sea) because she has inherited the “sins of anthropocentrism” and not kept her relationship (tauhi vā) with them. There is no disconnection between Fonua and Moana, and Anga‘aelangi prays that fellow humans keep their relational responsibilities with Fonua and Moana. I close this reflection with Anga’aelangi’s closing, binding words:
Rally held in Melbourne as part of a national day of action, called by Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, to mark 30 years since the Final Report was handed down following the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Image by Matt Hrkac (Geelong/Melbourne, Australia)
And, so as I go from here today, I now realise that I will embrace the land-fonua, ocean-moana, my relationship – the tauhi Vā all that you’ve created as a part of me, and I am a part of them. Amen.
See Jione Havea, “Rise and Irritate.” Insight (Apr 2021): 51–53 (available at https://issuu.com/cwmission/docs/insight_issue_16/8).
See Peter Cruchly, “Rising Up and Leaving Behind the Whitewashed Tomb...” Insight (Apr 2021): 28–29 (available at https://issuu.com/cwmission/docs/insight_issue_16/8).
See Eve Parker, “From Life-denying to Life-flourishing: Curricula in Theological Education.” Insight (Apr 2021): 47–50 (available at https://issuu.com/cwmission/docs/insight_issue_16/8).
See Michael Jagessar, “Rising Up: Emmaus and Beyond.” Insight (Apr 2021): 44–46 (available at https://issuu.com/cwmission/docs/insight_issue_16/8).
OUR PARTNERS IN MISSION
A Season of Ashes
Hell or Heaven? By Rev Yufen Chen, Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT)
O that it would please God to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and cut me off! Is my strength the
strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze? In truth I have no help in me, and any resource is driven from me. (Job 6:9,12-13) The image of hell looms large in our psyches. For some, even reading the title of this reflection might be offensive, such is the degree of negative connotation that the word carries. From a Taiwanese Christian perspective, it is hard to talk about hell calmly or intelligently with people who have been Christians from childhood because, in so many cases, they have come to see “God the Father” as “Punisher”- I still remember how my professor of Old Testament groaned sternly with his angry tone, “God surely punishes!” However, Jesus rejects notions of clear winners and clear losers, people who will be punished; or not punished. Instead, Jesus says,” Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40) and “God causes his sun to rise on bad as well as good, and causes it to rain on honest and dishonest alike” (Matthew 5:45). With his self-sacriﬁce, Jesus has transformed hell into resurrection, his shame into victory, his wound into healing power. Reflecting on my one year’s lockdown and imprisonment in England since March 2020, it felt to me that I had descended into hell, many others have probably experienced the same, having been as desperate, frustrated and lost as I was.
COVID-19 saw the team with whom I worked come to an end, so that I was entirely on my own with responsibility for what seemed an impossible task. People have a deep exhaustion from this difﬁcult situation; there has been denial and rejection of many important events originally planned. How could I direct this mission? I could ﬁnd neither young people nor students on the campus; where could I look for lost sheep in this empty city? The church with which I was serving was ﬁnally closed after a long period of uncertainty. I must restart my project with an unknown church. I, myself, have become a lost sheep. It was difﬁcult to know the right thing to do regarding different fears and expectations. On my return from a trip to Paris during the early days of COVID-19, one person from the church made it clear he expected me to stay in quarantine, another insisted that if I did not attend the service, she was going to quit our group. She commented that our faith teaches us to take the risk for God’s sake, and we have obviously forgotten.
Four dilemmas that marked me: www.cwmission.org 43
My COVID-19 ‘hell’ started from this insigniﬁcant conflict, which was followed by all kinds of arguments on many new issues. People could not cope with the frightening changes, staying at home with kids 24 hours a day, sitting in front of their laptop over 12 hours per day, ordering groceries online, forced to work from home with all the disturbances from various inadequacies, imprisoned together at home with three generations, students paying full tuition but isolated from the world, not even having access to a library. Life became heavy and boring. Unemployment, church closures, all shops disappearing, not even cafes were open. No more meetings with friends, no more big family gatherings, no more service for disadvantaged people, for isolated groups, for homeless people, for people in all kinds of urgent needs… People were becoming hostile and defensive; it felt as though violence and conflict could easily happen anywhere…the whole society was in such a tension. What should a missionary do to react in the face of a changing world due to this pandemic?
Words- images of God Language is such a fascinating subject. In public or with fragile people, the use of language is extremely important. Words can be violent; or indifferent. In fear of criticism, people might become reluctant to speak, tempted to stay in their small interest groups as a place of safety, the fear of rejection becoming more powerful than the call to justice. But there are always ways to encourage people to articulate
44 INSiGHT AUGUST 2021
good intentions, kindness and inclusiveness. Words are the images of God, words can be creative and powerful. Words are divine like God’s paradigm of creation and wisdom; we should have the desire to take God’s words as bread and become the mirror of God’s love. Building up good verbal interaction within groups is the basic ground to allow any mission project to grow. Making the words of prayers is the ﬁrst step for teaching church members to mirror God’s image. A praying exercise is educational theology in praxis. This is why an online morning prayer group was organised, meeting now for over one year; a daily reflection posted on a Facebook group page; a prayer link was opened for new members so that people can communicate personal needs at any moment.
A Special Time? People sometimes tell me that I should reduce my workload, my scheduled weekly gatherings or delete some annual events, especially since we are restricted and things are so unclear. At the beginning of lockdown, I felt helpless and confused. The noise
of the world became so disturbing. But then I decided to listen to my inner whispering and it was with this faith that I ﬁnally achieved something that could represent a whole year’s toil. It was with this alertness and super autonomy that I stepped out along a path where I saw how God was merciful and faithful. During this long lockdown, we have had no clear keys to direct our original agenda, no routine work to follow, the working structure has disappeared. In this moment, we need Jesus who confronts injustice and risks opposition rather than conforming to a problematic status quo, out of touch with a suffering world. We know the lockdown has made many existing and hidden problems worse, but simultaneously, it has been a special time: A loving family or couple will cherish enjoying time together. Bosses have learned how to trust employees who are working from home. Teachers have employed greater efforts to make online courses more attractive and creative, and to facilitate mutually reactive activities. Students have learned to be responsible for their own work. The power derived from such autonomy could be an incentive to learn. While church buildings were empty for the whole year, we thought they were in real danger of dying. Contrarily, we were surprised to ﬁnd some people returning to their forgotten congregations. Some were looking for spiritual guidance, others felt they were responsible and had to make some efforts not to forsake the “falling” cities.
Although some Christians have struggled to stay with online services, others have accepted this new possibility to serve. They have engaged much more than before. They prayed for the world, for all the pandemic’s victims, for the Church and for the needy. They tried to connect with different churches to support each other, to encourage and to unite in prayer. If selﬁshness is a core human failing, we might say that loving concern is a saving grace. We have been saved by entering a new life of self-sacriﬁce, with no thought for ourselves, but only love for others. Our terriﬁed society is saved by such generosity, the creation of alternative working systems, and new ways to sustain the ties of community. The kingdom will come on earth, as in heaven. We need to put aside selﬁshness and build another sustainable world.
Descent and rise We cannot expect to solve the problem of ‘COVID-19’ and return to our previous daily life; we must prepare to envision a constant uncertain future. Our faith must prepare us for that, and we need to practice an unselﬁsh devotion with stunning and moving consistency. When we look back over this past year, a year of restriction and imprisonment, should we pronounce that it is a lost year? No! We can say that we are the soldiers in this battle and we have survived. Now we need healing, and prepare ourselves to help heal the world. It is our belief that in dying and rising, Jesus shows us the pathway to life. Through suffering and despair this pathway leads us to new beginnings. After this heavy and difﬁcult year, I have learned to die and give up my pride, die and give up the certainty that my way is best, die and give up my attachments. I have had to unlearn so many things. This has been a journey of spiritual dying and rising again from the dead. I feel so blessed by this season of Ashes. If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning And settle at the farthest limits of the sea, Even there your hand shall lead me. (Psalm 139:8-10)
Yufen Chen (Rev) serves as a mission partner with the United Reformed Church in its mission among Taiwanese and Mandarin speaking communities. She is from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT)
This article is from CONNECTED! – a bimonthly produced by CWM’s the Partners in Mission Unit. The newsletter is to keep mission partners and those in their networks connected with CWM, connected to other mission partners and connected with their faith by offering stories of hope and prayers for service. Read the full issue here: https://www.cwmission.org/what-we-do/partnerships-in-mission/about/
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International Solidarity By Dr Joerg Rieger
When dealing with conglomerates of power that seek to control everything (my basic deﬁnition of empire) movements of solidarity are needed. Moreover, these movements need to develop relations with each other, and so one of the biggest challenges may well be how to build international movements of solidarity. Scholars of theology and religion can make important contributions to this project in various ways, including an in-depth reflection on how images of God have been shaped by the dominant system, what alternative images of God are at work in the various solidarity movements, and how such images can further support movements. Of course, this is not the ﬁrst time that theologians have been involved in these dynamics; in recent history, several liberation theologies have done this work and in the past there have been theologies of the people which include the hymns of the African American slaves, the peasant theologies of the Middle Ages, and the political theologies of the early Christians, including the work of the apostle Paul.² The task for theologians is, therefore, not to reinvent the wheel but to continue the traditions of theological resistance in the present. Today, class issues are especially critical in forming international movements of solidarity, as they are international by design, due to the global spread of neoliberal capitalism. The fate and the hopes of workers in the United States, whether they realise it or not, are much more intimately connected to workers in other countries than to the ruling class in the United States. Race and ethnicity have often been used in top-down forms of class struggle to cover up precisely this fact, so that white workers are enticed to identify more with their white bosses than with their African American, Latino, or Asian co-workers. Nationalism and patriotism have played their own roles in these struggles. While it may sound paradoxical, working people are also connected by the fact that their employers play them off against each other as well as against the unemployed.
To be sure, issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality also transcend borders and demand international movements of solidarity. Yet race and ethnicity have different histories in different
This article ﬁrst appeared in the April 2019 issue of INSiGHT. contexts, and even gender dynamics are not as universal as it may appear. This is why Muslim feminists, for instance, have often had to remind Western feminists that their struggles shape up differently and that what appears oppressive to one group may be a tool of liberation for others.3 Due to the international nature of the class struggle in neoliberal capitalism, even international solidarity in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality can beneﬁt from international solidarity established on the basis of class. In addition, the constructed nature of class reminds us of the constructed nature of gendered, racial, and sexual identities—including national identities—and points towards the possibility of new alliances and reconstruction. A deeper understanding of class will also help us deepen what we currently understand as solidarity. Progressives in the so-called ﬁrst world have often understood solidarity as a decision of the will to support others who are less fortunate. This mindset has made positive contributions to many important projects, including fair trade, international aid, and advocacy for human rights. At the same time, this kind of solidarity has also led to a certain patronising attitude, especially when things went well, and to burnout, especially when they did not. The next step would be to consider what I am calling deep solidarity.4 Deep solidarity is based on a sense that the majority of us might be in the same boat, that the realities of class tie us together despite all our differences that must not be overlooked. Despite signiﬁcant differences in terms of economics, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender, there are some things that tie together what the Occupy Wall Street Movement has called the 99 percent, namely the fact that most of us are no longer beneﬁting as much from the structures of late capitalism as we once did and that we have to work for a living. This fact ties us together across the lines of different religions as well. New interreligious alliances grow out of this struggle, based on a common struggle. As a result, religion can no longer be used as easily to destroy solidarity—a major factor in the past and present—and might contribute to the formation of deeper forms of solidarity.
The notion of God’s solidarity with the oppressed and marginalised, a key insight in various liberation theologies, is sharpened in light of deep solidarity The God who is found to be in deep solidarity is not the God of the dominant imagination. In the Exodus traditions, for instance, shared by Jews, Christians and Moslems, God does not remain above the fray but takes sides and enters into the struggle of the people. In the Christian tradition of the incarnation, God joins the majority of working people in Jesus Christ, who grew up as a construction worker and maintained relations with common people all his life—thus embodying deep solidarity.
The metaphorical notion of the 99 percent points to solidarity not only within the United States but also internationally, as working people in the United States share substantially more in common with workers in the Global South than with the 1 percent in their own country; even in global comparison no worker makes hundred times what other workers make, which is the differential between workers and managers even in wealthy countries like the United States. We need to repeat, of course, that the key point of this comparison is not money but power. For this reason, the 1 percent always ﬁnds itself in international solidarity, a fact that is often overlooked by the masses but never lost on the elites.
Reflections on deep solidarity that bring together these various aspects are much needed, as in the United States and other privileged countries deep solidarity was covered up for a long time, for instance, by the easy availability of credit, from credit cards to reverse mortgages, leading people to believe that the system could be made to work for them. Now that credit is no longer as easily available and much of people’s net worth has disappeared in the housing and unemployment crisis, even the middle class is becoming clearer about its place within neoliberal capitalism. Over twenty years ago some economists talked about the “Judas Economy,” pointing out that living in the First World has been beneﬁcial for workers - this is less and less the case.5 One reason that the Trump administration in the United States is able to keep jobs in the United States is that many US jobs pay lower wages and provide fewer beneﬁts than they once did. This is especially true in the southern states, where labour unions are weaker and where many workers work for a fraction of what workers make in other states.
In the United States in particular, the development of deep solidarity is actively countered by various mechanisms. Race has often been used to divide those who would be natural allies in terms of class and even in terms of gender and sexuality. Throughout its history, the ruling class in the United States has maintained its power by playing off white workers against black workers. And even some well-meaning efforts at overcoming racism and sexism have unwittingly contributed to the weakening of deep solidarity. When working class white men, for instance, are made to feel that they are the main perpetrators of oppression along the lines of race and gender, they often get the false impression that their natural solidarity lies with white men of the ruling class. This helps us understand, to some degree, why in the United States so many white working-class and lower-middle-class voters supported billionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump, seemingly against their own interest. Another interesting ﬁgure is that 81 percent of white Evangelical Christians voted for Trump in the 2016 elections.
This article is based on Joerg Rieger, “Empire, Deep Solidarity, and the Future of Resistance,” in: Religion and Power, ed. Jione Havea (Lanham: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2019), 71-84. Used by permission. Despite the fact that Paul has often been seen as a conservative, more recent work on the politics of Paul has shown his political edge in the struggle with empire. See, for instance, the work of and Neil Elliott and Richard Horsley.
The role of the veil is one example, as some Muslim feminists ﬁnd it useful in the struggle for liberation. See, for instance, Meyda Yegenoglu, “Sartorial Fabric-ations: Enlightenment and Western Feminism,” in Postcolonialism, Feminism, and Religious Discourse, ed. Laura E. Donaldson and Kwok Pui Lan New York: Routledge, 2002).
See, for example, the use of this term in Kwok Pui-lan and Joerg Rieger, Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude (Harrisburg, Pa.: Rowman and Littleﬁeld, 2012), and in Joerg Rieger and Rosemarie Henkel-Rieger, Unifed We Are a Force: How Faith and Labor Can Overcome America’s Inequalities (St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice Press, 2016).
See William Wolman and Anne Colamosca, The Judas Economy: The Triumph of Capital and the Betrayal of Work (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley,1997). Native American and postcolonial scholars, for instance, have pointed out that the Exodus has led to other problems as the people of Israel approached the Promised Land. Yet these ancient stories themselves need critical interpretation and negotiating, as fantasies of conquest do not need to have the last word.
48 INSiGHT AUGUST 2021
If, on the other hand, working-class white men were to understand that whatever beneﬁts they enjoy in terms of their race and gender positions are used by the system in order to play them off against racial minorities and women, deep solidarity might become an option. After all, white male workers have signiﬁcantly more in common with black workers, female workers, and even immigrant workers and international workers than with their white employers. Unfortunately, the labour unions in the United States have not always addressed these challenges effectively, but it seems that they have learned a great deal in recent years. One encouraging example is the growing union support for immigrant labor in the United States in a climate that is growing increasingly hostile to immigrants. The military is another example for how class differentials are covered up in the United States. For many working-class people, entering the military is made to look like the ticket to a better life and an opportunity for moving up the ladder of success.
Armies, made up mostly of working-class people, are led into war against other armies also made up of working-class people, who are unaware that they are, for the most part, not ﬁghting for their own interests but for the interests of the ruling class, with whom they are led to identify. Here, nationalism, patriotism, and religion serve as the glue that ties common people to the elites and makes soldiers on one side overlook the fact that they have more in common with the soldiers on the other side than with the elites of the same nationality who use them for their own purposes. This is the opposite of deep solidarity. In these various contexts, many of our religious traditions can help us imagine and reimagine deep solidarity. At the heart of worship in Israel is the Exodus from the conditions of slavery in Egypt and efforts to create a better life for the people. This tradition ties together the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Interreligious dialogue is a live option not only because of shared traditions but also because deep solidarity helps us deal with our differences. In fact, differences become an asset when the resources of our different traditions are allowed to make their speciﬁc contributions to the struggle. It is in this context that we can negotiate the complexities of our traditions.6 The support for widows, orphans, and strangers in the Hebrew Bible, for instance, is often argued on the grounds that Israel itself knows what it is to be a stranger. Jesus’ message of good news to the poor presupposes an understanding of solidarity, which includes the possibility that people put themselves on the side of the poor. As the apostle Paul has pointed out, commenting on the church as the body of Christ: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). Of course, international solidarity cannot be established overnight; tensions will remain and they do not need to be pushed under the rug. Yet the time is right and resistance to empire continues to build in many places despite challenges and setbacks. The question of deep solidarity is how we will put our differences to productive use and how unity in difference shapes up on the ground. Joerg Rieger is Distinguished Professor of Theology at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and holds the Cal Turner Chancellor’s Chair in Wesleyan Studies. He is Founding Director, Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice. Author and editor of twenty books and over 135 articles, his main interest are social movements that bring about change and the contributions of religion and theology. The full chapter of, “Empire, Deep Solidarity, and the Future of Resistance” (ed. Jione Havea, Lexington/Fortress 2019) can be read in the recently published book Religion and Power. More details are on page 36 in Take A Look. www.cwmission.org 49
SEEN & HEARD
“people We are all indigenous on this planet, and we have to reorganise to get along
Rebecca Adamson 9 August | International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples
23 August | International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition A day of remembrance for those who suffered as slaves.
Slavery is theft theft of a life, theft of work, theft of any property or produce, theft even of the children a slave might have borne ~ Kevin Bales ~
~ The late Chadwick Boseman (1976 - 2020) Fula Greeting Ritual (1910). Source, Liebig Chromos.
TAKE A LOOK
Generations of Romanian Girls Trafﬁcked into Europe's Sex Industry
There is a very dark and disturbing part of colonial history that has gone under the radar for far too long which could explain how modern-day racism came about. In a society where white colonial masters exhibited human beings like they would animals in the zoo, parading them as freak shows as their cultures and lifestyles are deemed exotic and drastically different from their own, these ethnic people from around the world were stripped of their dignity, rights and humanity to be put on display as savages. https://bit.ly/2V0oBuT
No Impact Man A man’s year-long quest for him and his family, to experiment and adopt an existence of absolute zero impact on our environment. As they abandon their high consumption, capitalistic and consumeristic behaviours, such radical and sudden approach of well intentioned environmentalism takes more than just the will to commit, but also the need to act – seriously with more conviction than ever, albeit, in the despair and judgement of others who does not feel the same for the cause and action being taken. https://bit.ly/2SREdjC
Exodus: Our Journey Continues (2017) Stories of refugees and migrants from various countries like Afghanistan, Syria and The Gambia are presented ﬁrst-hand, allowing us to witness the precarious journeys taken by these individuals and their families, navigating treacherous landscapes and sea, in search for a better life where it is safe. The ﬁlm puts together footages so raw and real, taken by the refugees themselves through their mobile and handheld devices, documenting every scene which showed nothing but the truth on the situation they were facing https://bit.ly/3jAAh1u
Young girl’s, many like Maya have been victims of human trafﬁcking, being sold to the sex industry of Europe. This has gone on for generations, many before her and similarly like her, who were simply lured by the prospects of a better life and escaping the poverty-stricken small town in Romania. However, the truth is never what it seems for them as they are plunged straight into prostitution by the syndicate. Being young, alone and helpless with no one to turn to, many succumb to their fates while some hang on to hope. https://bit.ly/3hGqK6q
Garbage Island: An Ocean Full of Plastic There are 5 large plastic accumulation zones found in the world’s oceans known as The Great Paciﬁc Garbage Patch. It is estimated to be between 1.15 to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic wastes that are entering the ocean yearly, transported by currents, and then converging and forming into these huge “Islands” of plastic wastes, polluting our seas and contaminating our marine life. If no effort is made to clean up the accumulation of plastics in our oceans, it is estimated that there will be more weight in plastics than ﬁsh by the year 2050. https://bit.ly/2UD5Jll
54 INSiGHT AUGUST 2021
Before The Flood
Racing Extinction aims to educate and create awareness in people, to what the experts have coined as the sixth imminent extinction that will take place on Earth which is single-handedly caused by the human species through cause and inaction. We are plundering our oceans by over ﬁshing and the poaching of endangered species are driving them from the face of the planet. We are also robbing wildlife of their natural habitats, pushing them further away from their environments, forcing them to lose their food sources, killing them with starvation.
Documenting across the globe the devastating impacts as the result of climate change, the ﬁlm poses the question on if there is even a sliver of hope in turning around the most catastrophic damage the human species has ever witnessed. Engaging the audience with the tumultuous situation we are currently in; will a sense of urgency emerge amongst us to want to make that change and look for real solutions to the problems? Are we going to remain obstinate and comfortable with a capitalist economy or ﬁnally to step away from it?
Fed Up Over 3 decades, the US government has turned a blind eye towards sugar consumption in its population and primarily children which has resulted in increasing risks of obesity, diabetes and all other associated health complications and illnesses. Children in recent generations are growing up fatter, unhealthier and living much shorter lifespans than their parents have. Besides facing health issues, in a society that has an unhealthy obsession with unrealistic beauty standards, obese children ﬁnd themselves in the brunt of social expectations which is crushing on their self-esteems.
Greed - A Fatal Desire Humans are innately selﬁsh and greedy. Always seeking money and power to fulﬁl our desires and self-gratiﬁcation, vices and stranglehold on our others we deem as threat or competition. We consume to elevate ourselves in terms of status, aiming for the skies, ﬁnding accomplishments in leaving the common person behind and beneath us. We consume so excessively that we are numbed from the sight of the very damage our over consumption has done to the planet we live in and rely so much on for our survival – through the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink; we contaminate. https://bit.ly/3k9ULhQ
History of the Black Death The Black Death was a bubonic plague that happened in the Middle Ages, between 1346 to 1353, approximately 7 years, which ravaged Europe killing a third of its population - which was estimated to be 20 million people around the world. The catastrophe was one of immense loss and incomprehensible destruction. Till today, it still cannot be certain how and where the plague originated from. It was once assumed to take origins in Asia where trading ships transported the lethal bacterium worldwide. https://bit.ly/3i6atIa
https://bit.ly/3i16EUB www.cwmission.org 55
IN OUR LIBRARY
Taiwan Indigenous Mission Stories
Even though the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) has a third of its congregations being indigenous people, their cultures and languages are disappearing and little is known about these real and original inhabitants of Taiwan. Through CWM’s Hearing God’s Cry Programme, PCT has published the Taiwan Indigenous Mission Stories to give voice to these lesser known stories and traditions of the indigenous people and enhance their proﬁle and leadership. Email email@example.com for details.
56 INSiGHT AUGUST 2021
Theologies on the Move Religion, Migration, and Pilgrimage in the World of Neoliberal Capital Edited by Joerg Rieger - Contributions by Gemma Tulud Cruz; Wanda Deifelt; Marc H. Ellis; J. Alice Heo; M. P. Joseph; Deenabandhu Manchala; Eliseo Perez-Álvarez; Joerg RIEGER; Luis N. Rivera-Pagan AND George Zacharia
Theologies on the Move: Religion, Migration, and Pilgrimage in the World of Neoliberal Capital speaks to the reality that many religions have developed in motion, with people exploring new boundaries, migrating, and being displaced. Consequently, major religious traditions form as they come into contact with other religions and cultures, typically in situations of struggle and pressure. Due to neoliberal capitalism, more people are on the move today than ever before. Most are driven by necessity (migration due to violence, poverty, and perceived poverty); others, by religious quests that are often fueled by experiences of tension (pilgrimage). The chapters in this volume explore the complexity of these situations, examining in detail how theology and religion shape up in various contexts “on the move” and investigating speciﬁc problems and tensions in order to suggest solutions, alternatives, and new possibilities. www.cwmission.org 57
Doing Theology in the New Normal
Global Perspectives by Jione Havea Responses to the recent pandemic have been driven by fear, with social distancing and locking down of communities and borders as the most effective tactics. Out of fear and strategies that separate and isolate, emerges what has been described as the "new normal" (which seems to mutate daily). Truly global in scope, with contributors from across the world, this collection is the outcome of CWM’s eDARE 2020 Programme. It revisits four old responses to crises - assure, protest, trick, amend - to explore if/how those might still be relevant and effective and/or how they might be mutated during and after a global pandemic. Together they paint a grounded, earthy, context-focused picture of what it means to do theology in the new normal. For more information and to purchase, please visit https://scmpress.hymnsam.co.uk/books/9780334060642/doing-theology-in-the-new -normal
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This collection engages the challenges and opportunities for doing theology in the context or age of media. The intersection of media with theology is reciprocating: media boosts theology in its functions to inform, connect and educate; theology humbles the globalizing media with a reminder – media is in mediation but not in domination. Media and theology thus intersect at mediating (negotiating, interceding, resisting, protesting) and they should avoid the temptation to colonize. The essays are presented in two overlapping clusters: Mediascapes (intersection of media and a selection of land- and sea-scapes) and Mediations (implications of mediating theology for interrogating hegemonies). The topics addressed include social media and #tag cultures, the fourth industrial revolution and artiﬁcial intelligence, homiletics, social resistance, Palestine, Latin America, climate change, and Covid-19. The production of this book is the outcome of CWM’s Discernment and Radical Engagement (DARE) 2018 programme. https://www.bookdepository.com/MEDIAting-Theology-Jione-Havea/9783374068111 ?ref=grid-view&qid=1625764128625&sr=1-27
“But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.” - Martin Luther King, Jr -
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