INSiGHT - October 2021

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October 2021

We are the Future The generation, the now, the future. The coming of all the cures. They ask us who we want to be, what we will do. We only know that tomorrow is what we pursue. Every day we walk the streets in search of dreams we seek. We sometimes think, that those above us don’t understand what will come. The light for years to come. Quite distant for some. We aren’t afraid, we know who we are, who we are meant to be. The choices you make. Are for the futures sake. It may seem like a lot. Like the earth, we will continue to everyday. Like the Sun we will shine. The Stars of tomorrow. Until then we wait for tomorrow, and when it comes, you will know who we are.

The Future. ~ by Antonio Jarvey


June 2019 | 8

October 2021

CONTENTS DEVOTION moves above the waters 02 What Fresh water challenges of the Pacific



Finding Innovative Ways to Preach the Gospel: in the Era of the Coronavirus Pandemic


Jione Havea’s Partners in Mission Story




04 Member Church News life-affirming “degrowth” is 09 Apossible, economists and theologians find

10 Obituary RETROSPECT and Spirituality 32 Humanity in the face of the Fourth Industrial Revolution


VIEWPOINTS Training in Mission has 12 What Meant for Me: Presentation at CWM Assembly 2006

17 The Zelkova Tree Incident Multiple Intersections of 18 The Religion, Labour, and Class

25 Maintenons La Flamme! the World by Killing 26 Saving Communities in Wales?



What moves above the waters Fresh water challenges of the Pacific By Nikotemo Sopepa, Council for World Mission

Nikotemo Sopepa, an ordained minister of the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu. Married with two children, he is currently the Mission Secretary of the Council for World Mission (CWM) in the Pacific region. In the following reflection he compares the life affirming spirit of God that was hovering on the waters in the beginning of the creation story with today’s “death dealing” spirit of commercialisation of water over the waters of the Pacific region which is worsening its fresh water availability. 2

"1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Genesis 1: 2 (NIV)

Above the waters in the Pacific, bulldozers are moving in rapid paces clearing forest for new developments. There are ripples above the waters too, caused by continuous noises from chainsaws debauching the beauty of rainforests. Usually, hopes for life moves above the water lenses in small island atolls of the Pacific, now salt water seeps in from beneath, while from above it’s a flood of salt water flooding these freshwater lenses due to sea level rise.

a looming danger of access to fresh drinking water.

Two years ago, we watched in disbelief and sorrow as king tides flooded the island of Tamana in Kiribati, sinking all the wells beneath the swell of waves contaminating drinking water. The excessive and illegal loggings in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands create dry barren lands. The rarity of rainfall in most northern Pacific atolls due to climatic disorder has created few states of emergencies. What is moving above the waters in Definitely the current of the waters in the Pacific the Pacific is death. There is no affirmation of life have changed, and some are finding it difficult to that can guarantee safe drinking water for Pacific find even a pint of water to drink. I know, surrounded people in the future. by waters of the Pacific ocean, many Pacific Islanders do not think that we have a freshwater The pattern described above is almost the reversal crisis, apart from those in low lying atolls. But it of the Genesis creation narrative where the Spirit of won’t be long before the waterfall and rivers give up God as life affirming guarantor moves over the on the rapid pace in which development is waters in the midst of darkness, chaos and accelerating in the Pacific. And with the nothingness. The movement of the Spirit of God commercialising and privatisation of water, there is Waves crash against the wall at the end of Nauru International Airprot's runway. Rising sea levels pose a serious risk coastal erosion for small Pacific island countries. Image by Matt Robertson / DFAT.


Children's of Squatter settlement in Dharan, Nepal collect water from Shardu River. Image by Kaustuvraj.

over the waters gave path to light and birthed life Reflection and action and presence. Now we have death moving over the Pacific waters birthing death to the environment Does water have any cultural significance in your leaving thirsty a million mouths throughout the context? If so, how can these implications pave a ecological order. The whole organisation in ecology, way for assurance of safe and clean water for the people, the biosphere, the ecosystem is all your community? thirsting for clean drinking water. Even the heavens above some places in the Pacific thirst for water. Could we identify some of the things we do that are part of the “death moving” above the waters? There need to be rethinking and re-examining of the E.g. buying of bottled waters. importance of water in the Pacific from a Pacific context. The people of the Pacific needs to retire to We can come together as churches or the traditional way of treating water as a channel communities and discuss ways in which we that connects the heavens and earth. It is only when could resist corporates and even government we see that water is part of us and cannot be developments that undermine the beauty of our commercialised, then we will also be able to environment in the name of profit and economic consociate our actions with the entire creation. growth. When we do this, the Spirit of God that was moving above the waters in the beginning of time, will move together with us above the waters, creating newness of life in the heavens, and here on earth. Additional Resources • • • 03

AT A GLANCE | MEMBER CHURCH NEWS AFRICA The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) issues statement on the issue of vaccines

Image by Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters

The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) has issued a statement about vaccines after their Executive Committee met from 21-23 September. In the statement, it affirmed its belief in the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing serious illness, encouraged church members to get vaccinated when they can, and commended those who had done so. The economic impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures has brought tremendous hardship to the vulnerable, and they urged Christians to not spread unscientific conspiracy theories or misinformation about the vaccines. This appeal to their members to do their part in their countries reaching herd immunity and to observe safety measures came as it is “the only means” for their countries to return to normalcy and be able to congregate, travel and hold events again.


EAST ASIA Gereja Presbyterian Malaysia (GPM) distributes food to indigenous villages, supports online learning for youths Indigenous people in Malaysia were among those most severely affected by the Movement Control Order (MCO) implemented during the pandemic, as they ran out of food and lost their jobs. Even though local churches and NGOs raised funds to purchase and distribute food and sanitation items, these were insufficient to cover all the villages. Gereja Presbyterian Malaysia (GPM) supplemented this aid with the CWM Gift of Grace grant to provide for 12 villages, 154 families and more than 800 villagers from April to December last year.

During school closures, GPM set up learning centres in the church and indigenous villages, with computers, tablets and

internet packages loaned or donated by individuals.

Similarly, CWM’s COVID-19 Mission Initiative funds will be deployed for this initiative, as well as purchasing more equipment and providing internet access for youths.

Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China (HKCCCC)’s response to challenges posed by COVID-19 With physical services prohibited during the pandemic, Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China (HKCCCC) made the digital shift to facilitate meetings, training programmes, church services and prayer meetings for member churches and Christian groups online. Their ministries included distributing surgical masks, sanitising materials and food coupons for the underprivileged families; and counselling for families facing marital or parent-child relationship problems. Special financial aid for the families with emergency needs or difficulties resulting from accidents was provided as well.

SOUTH ASIA Inauguration of Sridampara St. John’s Church in central Bangladesh

The newly constructed Church of St John in Sridampara Village of Tangail District, central Bangladesh was inaugurated by the Moderator of the Church of Bangladesh (COB) earlier this year. The opening service and celebrations on 16 May were also attended by priests in adjoining parishes. In addition, three acres of land have been donated by Sridampara Parish Secretary and members of the parish. An estimated 65 Garo tribal families in Sridampara who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods will worship in this new church building, where children and youth will pick up new skills.

COB’s Christian Mission Hospital, Rajshahi (CMHR) intensifies eye check-up efforts in communities Following the end of the COVID-19 lockdown a few months ago, the Christian

Mission Hospital, Rajshahi (CMHR) operated by the Church of Bangladesh (COB) has seen more patients, and increased their field efforts. Field eye camps are now frequently being organised under CMHR in selected communities.

vulnerable to the pandemic as it is the main hub where people arriving or departing from Tuvalu make their first landing. Its position near the equator has also made it susceptible to tropical cyclones and other climate events such as droughts.

For example, 3,000 children in Tanore Upazila under Rajshahi district have been screened during the health check-up field camps held in conjunction with Food for Hungry Association (FHA). These eye camps are the bridge between communities to hospital referrals, such as the cataract services of CMHR Eye Department.

Clean water - especially for hand washing during the pandemic - is thus high on EKT’s priority list, a need that was met by the CWM Gift of Grace grant last year. The grant enabled EKT to purchase ten additional water tanks, which provided sufficient clean water to all EKT personnel, support staff, and their families who resided on Funafuti. It also freed up their budget to meet other shortages, during a time when other NGOs had yet to respond with pandemic-related funding.

PACIFIC Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu (EKT) tackles the challenge of clean water

Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) Moderator’s pastoral message following Delta Variant in-community transmission Funafuti, an atoll and the capital of Tuvalu where Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu (EKT)’s headquarters is located, has been more

In end August, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) Moderator Right Rev. Fakaofo Kaio 05

Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) launches climate advocacy campaign ahead of COP26

released a pastoral message after transmission of Delta variant was detected in the community. Faced with the situation of some being unable to get groceries and medicines as some supermarkets were overwhelmed, The Rt Rev. Kaio urged them to reach out virtually, encourage one another, and put people in contact with those who can assist in their community. Anticipating an extended lockdown in Auckland as more Delta variant cases emerging daily, Rev. Kaio reminded them to follow lockdown requirements, and to “be strong, (because) we will help protect the country by our sacrifice”. Read his full letter at: wp-content/uploads/2021/0 8/PCANZ-Moderator-pastor al-message-25-Aug-2021-Co vid-19.pdf

PCANZ celebrates election of its fifth female leader in 120 years The Rev Rose Luxford of Oamaru was elected Moderator designate of PCANZ during its General Assembly held virtually on 30 September. This will make her the fifth female leader of the PCANZ in 120 years, which she says is both daunting, humbling and an honour.


The minister of St Paul's Maheno-Otepopo Presbyterian Church in Oamaru has served as Moderator of the Auckland Presbytery and also the Southern Presbytery, and she appreciates the two-year lead time to explore the current issues and needs of the national Church before she assumes her role in 2023. Christian denominations today face challenges such as aging and shrinking congregations, and increased compliance issues for churches run largely by volunteers. Rev Luxford said of these challenges, “Our Church needs to be realistic about how things are, and make hard decisions, yet we also need to nurture and give oxygen to those things that are healthy, life-giving and surprising. We have amazing, gifted and creative people in the Church and they need to be valued and celebrated.”

The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) General Secretary Rev. James Bhagwan, accompanied by PCC staff, unfurled a banner denouncing fossil fuels at sea in Suva, Fiji on 14 October. In conjunction with Greenfaith, he was launching a climate change advocacy campaign ahead of COP in Scotland. The banner is the first in a series which will be displayed at places of worship over the next three weeks, and Rev Bhagwan will also be engaged in discussions with churches and partner organisation before travelling to COP26.

CARIBBEAN The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI) continues engaging in ministry in virtual spaces Through CWM Capacity Development Programme (CDP)’s Member Church Initiative, basic digital filmmaking equipment was

procured last year to enhance The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI)’s worship, advocacy, youth engagement and more. Thus, when the Jamaican government appealed to organisations to be part of their ISOAR (I Strive to Overcome with Resilience) child initiative where adults were encouraged to protect children’s rights, reaffirm their worth and help them to soar, UCJCI recognised the opportunity to collaborate. Also as part of living out the Synod theme “Rooted, Resilient, Responding in H.O.P.E”, children were filmed in various locations talking about their dreams and what “soaring” meant to them personally. They expressed their hopes of eradicating social ills in Jamaica, and responded to hypothetical questions such as “what would you do if you were Prime Minister for a day? What would you change about Jamaica?”

Besides this, the UCJCI has worked on a Christmas production, among other videos on its YouTube channel to develop and strengthen its house church liturgy.

EUROPE The Presbyterian Church of Wales (PCW)’s aid for two hospitals in North East India

A few months ago, The Presbyterian Church of Wales (PCW) launched the COVID-19 India Appeal to assist two hospitals in the Khasi Hills in North East India - Dr H. Gordon Roberts Hospital in Shillong, and Norman Tunnel Hospital in Jowai. Their goal to raise £30,000 to purchase equipment to treat many infected patients was massively successful. They managed to raise more than twice the targeted amount for both hospitals. “More importantly, the needed equipment has arrived and is proving to be of great help to staff and patients. It is our hope to see the prevention of the spread of the infection in India, and we as a Church, will continue to pray for the situation there,” said

Rev Gwenda Richards who was instrumental in this Appeal.

Dr H. Gordon Roberts Hospital, Shillong names Nursing Block after PCW The Dr H. Gordon Roberts hospital in Shillong was named after its founder, missionary and surgeon Dr. Hughes Gordon Roberts in 1922. Also known as the Khasi Hills Welsh Mission Hospital, it began as a 90-bedder hospital served by PCW missionary doctors and nurses. His successor Dr R.A Hughes later introduced the latest operating techniques and anesthetic medicine, and started the first blood bank in Shillong. For many years, it was one of the few institutions in northeast India in which major surgery could be performed.

The hospital’s chief medical officer visited PCW’s General Assembly in 2014, and described plans to celebrate the hospital’s centenary by adding to existing buildings, including 07

wards, clinics and operating rooms, and expanding facilities to educate future nurses. Over the next 2 years, the Moderator’s appeal garnered £115,000 for the Shillong hospital, which has since named an extension “Presbyterian Church Of Wales Nursing Block”, and is set to welcome a group of students.

United Reformed Church (URC) among faith leaders calling for climate action ahead of COP26 at Glasgow

for justice by calling on governments, businesses and others who exercise power and influence to put into effect the Paris agreement; to make the transition to a just and green economy a priority; and to commit to science-based targets that are aligned with a healthy, resilient, zero-emissions future.”

As for individual responsibility, these religious leaders pledged to reflect in prayer and worship for creation care, and to encourage their communities to do likewise. They also promised to make transformational change in their own lives and the lives of their communities.

URC’s new podcast on discipleship The United Reformed Church (URC)’s Moderators are among representatives of religious communities across the U.K who have signed The Glasgow Multi-Faith Declaration ahead of the COP26 Summit. In the joint statement, they committed to responding to the climate emergency through being “advocates


URC launched a new podcast series on the denomination’s focus on Christian discipleship and mission earlier this year.

With new episodes uploaded fortnightly, it explores what it means to be Walking the Way of Jesus, and covers topics such as anti-racism, COVID-19 a year on, and the climate crisis. The podcast is available on Anchor, Spotify and other major podcast platforms, and can be located by searching for “The United Reformed Church Podcast”.

A life-affirming “degrowth” is possible, economists and theologians find An online conference on “Degrowth – Living Sufficiently and Sustainably” was convened by the World Council of Churches (WCC), Council for World Mission (CWM), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) and World Methodist Council (WMC) under the New International Financial and Economic Architecture initiative on 1 October. During the conference, speakers and participants discussed proposals and strategies for moving away from growth-driven and extractive economies to life-affirming systems of sustenance. They also looked towards the G20 Leaders’ Summit taking place in late October in Rome with the theme, “People, Planet and Prosperity.” In many parts of the global South, economic growth has not necessarily raised people’s living standards and has aggravated the climate crisis, observed Rosario Guzman, executive editor at the Philippine-based think tank, Ibon. Dr Priya Luka, lecturer at Goldsmith University in the United Kingdom, underlined that degrowth demands “a politics of wealth distribution.” Here, global tax justice as called for by the Zacchaeus Tax campaign is key. Arnie Saiki of Imipono Projects proposed alternative systems of national accounting that “give value to people's interactions with ecological and wellbeing indicators rather than treating everything as a commodity.” The conference also reflected on growth and degrowth from theological perspectives. Rev Dr Fundiswa Kobo noted that society’s obsession with growth is “breaking up the relationship between human beings, creation and animals” and has contributed to the exploitation of African women’s bodies. Dr Martin Kopp from the Federation of Protestant Churches in France asked, “growth of what, for whom and until when?” Degrowth in the material and economic sense entails growth in an eco-spiritual and moral sense, he added. Rev. Chebon Kernell, executive director of the Native American Comprehensive Plan, said that “the concept of wealth and progress must be redefined from Indigenous and more holistic perspectives.” As a young person from the Pacific, Iemaima Jennifer Vaai highlighted the need to appreciate and live out traditional ways of sharing and being in “sacred relations” with land, oceans and all creation. Dr George Zachariah from Trinity College in New Zealand, said that degrowth combines resistance against extractive projects and regeneration driven by local communities. Speaking on activism for degrowth, Rev. Rozemarijn van’t Einde from De Klimaatwakers in the Netherlands who is also on the CWM Board of Directors challenged churches and young people “to face the fear” and “go too far.” 09


United Church of Jamaica and Cayman Islands (UCJCI) mourns the passing of Rev. Dr Norman Francis OBITUARY | Rev. Dr. Norman Francis, 63, a minister of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI) and a former Partner in Mission (PIM) to the Congregational Federation (UK) and from 2004 to 2008, passed away at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Jamaica on Sunday, 12 September, after a brief illness. Prior to his PIM assignment, Rev. Francis’ involvement with CWM also included participation in a short term ClergyXchange with the United Church of Zambia in 2003/2004, facilitated by a partnership between CWM and International Ministry Exchanges (IME). Rev. Dr. Francis’ last assignment was at the United Theological College of the West Indies, where he served as UCJCI Associate Warden and Lecturer. He was also an adjunct lecturer at the International University of the Caribbean (IUC). Ordained in November 2001, Francis had served at several congregations in Jamaica and overseas, including the Whitney Congregational Church in Oxfordshire, England, and St John’s Parish Church in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Locally, Francis was student minister in the pastoral Charges of Portmore and Hellshire; ministry intern in the Pretoria Road and Boulevard Charges; and minister of the Meadowbrook Charge of United Churches. UCJCI Moderator, Rt. Rev. Gary Harriott described the late lecturer as “one of our faithful servants”. “He will be remembered within the UCJCI as an articulate preacher and Bible teacher, whose passion was at its highest in the area of theological education. He was instrumental in redesigning the UCJCI Lay Training Programme,” said UCJCI General Secretary Rev. Norbert Stephens, who had worked closely with him during his tenure at Webster Memorial United Church where Francis was Associate Minister. He is survived by his spouse, Karen, and two sons, Norman and Kareem. Visit for more information.


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What Training in Mission has Meant for Me

Presentation at CWM Assembly 2006

By Jet den Hollander, TIM 1981-82 In 2006, CWM's Training in Mission programme celebrated its 25th anniversary. By that time, many former TIM participants, upon their return home, had been strategically used by their churches in education and renewal programmes. So the 2006 CWM Assembly, meeting in Jamaica, indeed felt that a celebration was called for! A huge birthday cake was shared, a TIM Quiz was played, and representatives from different decades were invited to share with the Assembly what Training in Mission had meant to them. Jet den Hollander, at that time Mission Secretary at the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in Geneva, and member of the first, experimental TIM group in 1981-82, started off the testimonies with the address below.


WM moderator, members of the Assembly, representatives at the women's and youth consultations, leadership of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and fellow Training in Mission participants, greetings! I would like to begin by thanking the Council for World Mission for inviting me to this very special event, the 25th anniversary celebrations of Training in Mission, and for the opportunity to say a few words about what TIM has meant for me. And indeed, it should be a few words, as I was told that I have 8 minutes only. But what can you say in 8 minutes about an experience that changed your life? Because, TIM did indeed change my life, just as I know it has changed the way others have come to understand themselves, the world, God and their own role in the mission of the Church. I do not believe that anyone has gone through the TIM experience and has come out unchanged, even if the changes are different for each of us. Because TIM problematises mission, and it does this differently for different persons with different histories. The entry point Part of TIM 2006 banner.


TIM 2006 Presentation by Jet den Hollander.

of each of us into TIM is unique, the questions we have about mission and the context implied in these questions are unique and therefore what each of us learns from TIM is unique. So let me share a few aspects of what happened in my case. I went to Training in Mission with a lot of baggage. I had grown up in the Netherlands in the 60s and 70s when, as Bob Dylan sang, “the times they were a-changin’”. These were the decades when the effects of decolonisation, secularisation and unprecedented levels of cultural circulation were beginning to be felt. The power balance between North and South was beginning to change. My generation was becoming aware of the terrible legacies of slavery and colonialism in which we, the Dutch, had so ruthlessly participated, and we were ashamed but also convinced that we, the new generation, were going to do far better than our ancestors. We were, obviously, the hope of the world. And of course in that vision MISSION did not fit, because that too was somehow linked to that historical legacy of domination and exploitation.

“...TIM problematises mission, and it does this differently for different persons with different histories. The entry point of each of us into TIM is unique... ”

CWM Assembly 2006 former TIM participants Michelle Bennett and Jet den Hollander.

And yet, I had also grown up with dreams of following in the footsteps of Albert Schweitzer, with family stories of missionaries going overseas, with my parents and pastor praying for mission and clearly being committed to it, and with us, from the time that you were four years old, taking your 10 cents for mission to school on Monday morning. So for me, that first experimental TIM year was an opportunity to look anew at these two conflicting stories within me and for making up my mind about how mission and I hung together. I guess I went through all the stages. First, I was delighted with what I saw. We discovered the CWM vision of partnership and heard how just 4 years earlier, in 1977, this vision had been put into a structure and a practice of multi-lateral resource sharing, and most importantly, of common power sharing. It was great to be part of the Gang of Ten and discover we could laugh and sing and pray together and feel so united as the one family of God. Hurray, the new ways of mission had been found. But secondly came the disillusion, as we realised that quite a bit of the new partnership talk was just empty slogan; that the ways our churches were operating were often still so painfully similar to those of the past; and most disconcertingly, that we ourselves were still so painfully similar to our predecessors, and so terribly human. And realizing that I could not live up to my own ideals of what a worker in God’s holy vineyard should be, I was ready to give up on the idea of me and mission, and now for once and for good, I decided. But then came the third phase, and I call it the stage of grace. Because what TIM, the focussed studies of mission in context, but in particular what the interaction within this intercultural TIM group did for me was to make me realise, finally, that God is not looking for blameless missionaries or spiritual giants, but for people who have glimpsed something of the love embodied in Jesus Christ, a love strong enough to transform the world, and that if you believe that and want to walk with him towards the beckoning future of a world where peace and justice embrace each other, that then you are by definition – not by choice but by definition - a missionary. I found grace and healing in the perspective of Lalchuanmawia from North East India who, when I argued how misguided our churches had been in previous centuries, would simply say: “yes, you are right, but you know, they brought us the light!” And I saw how Dennies Sikhosana from Zimbabwe, which a year before had still been white-ruled Rhodesia, was moved to tears when an elderly white British missionary kneeled down and washed his feet as part of a Maundy Thursday service. And I came to realise that it’s only by concretely living and working and praying and studying together that the hurts of the past can be healed (and let’s make no mistake as to the extent that these still exist and are being perpetuated by the current global structures, including many of our church structures). It’s only together that the challenges of today can be faced, and only together can we find, as it were, a second innocence to engage in a mission that is viable for today. (For, we lost our first innocence about mission, and we cannot go back to engaging in it with the same innocence of the 19th century missionaries. But what we can develop is a second innocence, a naivety that has worked through the shame and critique over the past and that, in the process of mission in partnership, recovers something of the zeal and commitment of those who went before us.) It was the Gang Of Ten and God’s use of that beautiful, crazy, difficult intercultural group from all over the world that enabled me to find my place in the Church and its mission. And it is to that praxis that I’ve been committed ever since in my work with CWM, CANACOM and most recently the World Alliance of Reformed Churches: to work with churches to design programmes that enable people to find their own place in the Church and its mission in response to God’s invitation to share in the Missio Dei. 13

We still have a long way to go, in CWM, in our And from the depths of my heart I thank CWM, but in organisations, in our churches. But what matters now - particularly the Gang of Ten, as it mattered in that first TIM year - is that we move Tekaabei Kaoma together, however difficult it is at times and however Anna Ward distant the goal seems to be. For, as Benjamin Mays Eirean Wyn Roberts (American educator, Clergyman, 1895-1984) once said: Eteuati Salesa Paul Reginald "It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life does James Mason not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy of life lies Dennies Sikhosana in having no goal to reach. Lalchuanmawia It is not a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled. But it is and the late Fisher Gondwe, a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster not to reach the stars. But it is a disaster to have no stars to reach for. Not for the privilege in TIM to reach for the stars together. And we didn’t reach them all. But we surely touched failure but low aim is sin. some! CWM has always, from 1795 when the London Missionary Society was created, set its aims high, To God be the glory. including and particularly with the Training in Mission Thank you. Project.

TIM 25 birthday cake.


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

Visit the TIM40 webpage for news, upcoming events and articles written by TIM participants.

Missed out on this year's eDARE? Don't worry - all the eDARE recordings uploaded soon on Be sure to subscribe to CWM's newsletter

to stay informed and be notified once the recordings are available.

The Zelkova Tree Incident This story by Lawa Pusin is taken from “Taiwan Indigenous Mission Stories”, a project by The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT), made possible by CWM’s Hearing God’s Cry Programme.


“ mangus” is a tribe situated 1500 metres above sea level, inhabited by 17 households of the Tayal people. The tribe is literally near the sky so the inhabitants called it "God's tribe”. In the past, there were no electricity and no passable roads connecting to the outer world. They only relied on the mountain’s provision by hunting and planting with an exclusively simple and enjoyable life of self-sufficiency. However, 30 years ago, the Forestry Bureau, the township government office, and some businessmen desired the huge natural resources in the forest so they built roads for large trucks to transport cypress woods from highland to lowland; thus affecting the tribal people's original way of life. When tribal people witnessed the logs being carried from one truck to another, they burst into tears and said: "Our brothers and sisters from our neighbourhood are cut down one by one, being dead and transported as corpses down the hill. The terrifying scene really shocked us!” Although they once reported it to the authorities, protested, and even sealed off the roads, they still could not stop the corruption between officials and businessmen, who were called “mountain rats” by the locals.

Tayal’s life pattern. Moreover, this behaviour of collecting zelkova wind-falls was even approved by the tribal council meeting with the decision that the logs’ collection was intended for the use of the tribal community, not selling for profits as the mountain rats’ collusion with dealers…. We want to ask: Were they guilty for this? Was it just? As a result, the villagers decided to fight in the judicial war—to fight for the autonomy and guardianship of the traditional indigenous life.

The horrifying memory was still haunting the Smangus’ people. On 14th of March, 2005, three young men from the tribe collected some logs of the zelkova trees’ wind-falls back to their village. Not knowing anything about government’s regulations on forest, they were arrested for interrogation. Later in 2007, each of them was prosecuted by the Forestry Bureau and sentenced by the Hsinchu District Court to six months in prison and a two-year probation with the penalty of NTD 160,000. This verdict led to an outburst of the indigenous people, for they believed what they had done was just following the traditional

This is the so-called “zelkova tree incident.” In the end, the Smangus’ people insisted to appeal to the Supreme Court; and on 9th of February, 2010, the Court made the final verdict to declare the innocence of the three young men. Their attorney, Zhan Shungui, pointed out that this judgement marked a historical milestone in sociology, anthropology and the judicial practice in which the law’s standpoint attended to a multicultural perspective with equality and respect. Consequently, the “zelkova tree incident” ended with a verdict of acquittal.

In the final court of the second instance, the judge asked the three defendants whether they still had anything to say. Elder Amin expressed: what mostly saddened them was not worries about imprisonment or fines, but the accusation of theft which had completely humiliated them. So, they requested the judge to re-investigate the case according to the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law and the indigenes’ autonomous lifestyle in coping with their traditional areas so as to prove their innocence. Not to mention the fact that indigenous people are the real protectors of the forest and good neighbours of the trees as they regard them as “brothers and sisters.” 17

The Multiple Intersections of

Religion, Labour, and Class


This is the first of a two-part series by Dr Joerg Rieger, Vanderbilt University. Part 2 will be published in our December issue. Used by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers,

A strike of workers in Biscay. Image by Vicente Cutanda Toraya (1850–1925) .



abour and class are topics crucial to much of life: 99 percent of us need to work in order to make a living, and in the twenty-first century much of the natural environment has been affected by processes of human labour. Another crucial topic in many places around the world is faith. Still, few things can derail a conversation in the United States faster than mentioning labour and class, with topics combining labour and religion coming in as a close second. This is true not only for casual conversations, it is also true in the theological academy and even more true for most religious communities.

revitalise religion, and some of the concerns of religion can revitalise the engagement of class and labour.

The reasons are multiple. In many cases, any reference to class is seen as irredeemably Marxist, as if it would be impossible to come up with the notion of class without the help of Karl Marx. This is very strange, considering the fact that class differentials are directly experienced on a daily basis by those who feel the humiliations of power at their workplace. This is not only a problem in the United States and other countries in the proverbial West; even many Chinese intellectuals have turned away from the question of class, as I found when lecturing in academic settings in China in 2015. In addition to the term class, terms like labour and even work also tend to be seen in a negative light; conversations about worker cooperatives, for instance, are easier when reframed in terms of employee cooperatives.

In the following, I will talk about labour and class in the same breath, as class describes the basic relationship of people at work. At the most basic level, class is determined by the power that people have at work and over their own work. This power relates not only to how much money people are making—although this is a significant factor when profits are rising in times of “mean and lean production”—it also relates to how much of a say people have in the work process. Moreover, the power that people have at work also influences and shapes how people embrace and embody power in many other areas of their lives. Since most people are spending the majority of their waking hours at work, and since work is the fundamental pillar of people’s livelihoods, it can be argued that class relationships tend to shape us all the way down. According to some estimates, two-thirds of Americans are working class due to their limited power at work,2 but we should not forget that 99 percent of us have to work for a living and that even many traditional middle-class jobs are being downgraded and offer even less power than they once did. Working people are no longer confined to those who wear blue collars—today they wear also white collars, lab coats, and in many cases even clerical and professorial gowns.

My question as a theologian is how we might reclaim discourses on labour and class as well as discourses on religion. My suggestion is that this happens by bringing the two together, as concerns of labour and class can

Note that this definition of class in terms of relationships of power stands in contradistinction to other definitions of class in terms of social stratification.3 Stratification theories examine class as layers of a social system but


This chapter builds on some material published in Rieger and Henkel-Rieger, Unified We Are a Force, chapters 4 and 5, used by permission.


See Zweig, Working Class Majority.


See Rieger, “Introduction,” in Religion, Theology, and Class.


not necessarily in relation to each other. This definition of class also questions the usefulness of the common notion of “classism,” which seems to assume that the problem of class is linked with prejudices of one class against another and that the problem can be overcome by doing away with the prejudice rather than the structure of class. Unfortunately, there is no room in this chapter for more extensive discussions of race, ethnicity, caste, gender, and sexuality. Labour is crucially related to all of these categories, as exploitation and oppression along these lines is a major factor of racism, ethnocentrism, caste hierarchies, sexism, and heterosexism. The workplace is where all of these elements come together most intimately, as workplaces are typically more diverse than other social spaces, including the practice of religion. This is the foundation for the formation of solidarity, which does not have to be understood as homogenizing the various identities but as providing space for bringing to bear different identities (as well as different religious traditions) in constructive ways. This is what, together with co-authors Kwok Pui-lan and Rosemarie Henkel Rieger, I have called deep solidarity elsewhere.4

Religion Needs Labour When engaging a group of undocumented Latino construction workers in the United States a few years ago, many expressed concern that religion was more of a problem than a help. They pointed out that their employers were religious people as well, and that this made little positive difference at work. Moreover, they argued, religion might be harmful for workers because it tended to make them more docile and submissive. To these construction workers, the conventional values they connected with religion, like humility, service, and love of neighbour, was bound to make things worse for working people. Another way of understanding religion, however, caught their attention. What if religion is not primarily about ideas, conventional values, or about the sort of things that people do in private, when they are off work? Silk production in the Suzhou No.1 Silk Mill in Suzhou (Jiangsu), China. Image by Armin Kübelbeck.

The Catholic Cistercians spread hard work and thrift in parts of Europe. 4

“This power relates not only to how much money people are making—although this is a significant factor when profits are rising in times of “mean and lean production”—it also relates to how much of a say people have in the work process. Moreover, the power that people have at work also influences and shapes how people embrace and embody power in many other areas of their lives.”

See Kwok and Rieger, Occupy Religion; and Rieger and Henkel-Rieger, Unified We Are a Force, chapter 3. 19

What if religion is about the experience of struggling communities, deep solidarity that includes racial/ ethnic and sexual identities without erasing difference, the formation of alternative power, and the fight for a better life for everyone? In these examples, religion is not defined by the pious ideas of the status quo but by people of different identities bonding together with the divine in order to make use of their abilities (including their disabilities, to be sure) for the common good.

Ancient Traditions on the Side of Labour Religion shapes up differently when seen through the lenses of labour and class. When connecting with the issues of real life, religion has an opportunity to return to its sources, which in many cases are linked to the lives of ordinary working people. The three Abrahamic religions have deep roots in the struggles for liberation of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, where God is portrayed as involved in the movement. Elsewhere in the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, God is presented as a working person who forms the human being from clay (Gen 2:7; Qur’an 15.26; 15.28) and plants a garden (Gen 2:8–9). In these traditions, God goes about the creation of the world just as working people would do, rather than as a supervisor or a manager who puts others to work. When religion is viewed from the perspective of labour and class, images of God as ruler can be called into question. Coincidentally, a search for the notion of God as king in the Bible produces surprisingly few results outside of the book of Psalms.5 In the prophetic texts of the Hebrew Bible, God is even portrayed as opposing the power of kings because of the exploitation and oppression that so often goes with the office. Jews and Christians share these traditions.6 To be sure, there are other traditions where God’s act of creating is seen as less hands-on, for instance in the so-called first creation story (Gen 1:1—2:3), but this does not erase the traditions of God as worker. And even in that story, God rests from work after six days (Gen 2:2), a gesture which has been an inspiration for working people through the ages, who usually had to fight for time off work even on weekends even in the “Christian” nations of the West.

Print shows an aged man labeled "Russian Jew" carrying a large bundle labeled "Oppression" on his back; hanging from the bundle are weights labeled "Autocracy," "Robbery," "Cruelty," "Assassination," "Deception," and "Murder." In the background, on the right, a Jewish community burns, and in the upper left corner, Theodore Roosevelt speaks to the Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II, "Now that you have peace without, why not remove his burden and have peace within your borders?" Image by Emil Flohri (1869–1938).

Christian traditions go one step further yet when they hold that God joined the workforce as a human being in the form of a day labourer in construction—no doubt a distinct class position—in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. As a result, Christians who believe that Jesus Christ is both fully human and fully divine have to deal with an image of God in Christ that does not easily fit in with widely held ideas of God as a heavenly monarch or as a transcendent manager. 5

Most of the references are found in the Psalms, which is probably why so many people are familiar with the notion of God as king. The apostle Paul, on the other hand, never refers to God as king, and his references to Jesus as Lord can be seen as subversive of the


See, for instance, 1 Sam 8:11–18, where God is opposed to giving the people a king because this means that they are rejecting God as their king. The kings on earth are very different kinds of kings than God, as they tend to exploit and oppress the people.

Roman emperor. See Rieger, Christ and Empire, chapter 1.


Unfortunately, most religious communities are unaware of the deep implications of these and other religious traditions that tie religion to the everyday lives of working people. Instead, religions in colonial and post- colonial times have often been lured into understanding themselves as matters of otherworldly affairs, having mostly to do with another world, with grandiose ideas, or with private concerns. In the process, religions have been domesticated and lost most of their meaning and almost all of their bite. So great is the confusion that many religious people now assume that religion equals religious rituals and cult, something that hap pens off work, in the evenings or on one of the days of the weekend. Yet few of the key figures of the Abrahamic religions spent the bulk of their time in worship or dealing with matters of religion in such a nar row sense.7 Abraham, Moses, the Hebrew prophets, Jesus, and Muhammad were down-to-earth people who were interested in the well-being of their communities, in how covenantal relationships with God shape up in relation to other human beings, and all of them were concerned with how religion transforms the world. This is true even for supposedly more ethereal figures like the apostle Paul. As recent research has shown, Paul’s message was grounded in alternative ways of life in the midst of the Roman Empire.8

Religion Awakened by Labour Taking the concerns of labour seriously can help people of all religions and identities rediscover these and other ancient traditions and reclaim them, including images of God, the self-understanding of religious communi ties, and key religious ideas and concepts across the religious traditions. Consider, for example, notions of sin and salvation: If sin is not merely a private matter between the self and God but a matter of the distortion of broader relationships that include workers, employers, and God, then salvation is no longer merely a private matter either but has to do with the restoration of these relationships. Moreover, in the encounters of religion and labour, the idea of religion itself changes. Informed by matters of labour and class, religion is linked to matters of politics, economics, and everyday life and it can provide positive inspiration without needing to dictate the outcomes. As religion is reshaped in the tensions of life that affect working people, it can reclaim its roles as an agent in the struggle for the common good. Without being reshaped in these ways, religion may well support a social concern here and there, as often happens, but it will remain a matter of peripheral interest and not be able to make much of a difference.

Christianity has a special place in this discussion because it is the religion most closely connected with the development of capitalism.9 Unfortunately, despite this history, religion in general and Christianity in particular is often unaware of the role it plays in matters of labour and class. In fact, much of the support it gives to the capitalist status quo happens uncon sciously. Even when it appears to be withdrawing from the world and spiritualising religion, religion endorses the status quo, as it provides room to the dominant powers to do as they please. Furthermore, by envi sioning God in terms of the dominant powers—another move that often happens unconsciously—religion provides a justification for the status quo without necessarily being aware of what is going on. Worst of all, unlike many other communal projects, much of religion today is unclear about its purpose. As a result, religion has become equated either with some aloof spirituality or with some form of dated morality that is tied to conventions of the past for good or for ill. In this situation the encounter with labour can help religion find its purpose again. The Abrahamic spiritualities or moralities that are emerging in this encounter are not vague, and neither are they primarily otherworldly or narrow. Spirituality here describes a way of life that values labour, productivity, and creativity (both human and nonhuman), with a focus on what benefits the world as a whole, both human communities and nonhuman communities. There is one more issue where religion needs help. Religious people often lack an understanding of how to distinguish friend and foe. The only distinction many are able to make is between people of religion and people who reject religion—insiders and outsiders—or between theists and atheists. But this is by no means the most interesting distinction. Class struggle—which is how the class relationship has shaped up in capitalism—is generally not waged between people of religion and people who reject religion; it is waged by corporations whose CEOs in the United States are likely to be members of a religious community (whose board meetings begin with a prayer) against working people who are members of religious communities as well.

Labour can help us sort out two of the most burning issues that affect us today and that are closely connected: capitalism and religion. There needs to be rethinking of the dignity of labour. via:


This modern understanding of religion is increasingly being deconstructed in the contemporary study of religion. See, for instance, Masuzawa, Invention of World Religions.


See, for instance, the work of Elsa Tamez, Neil Elliott, and Richard Horsley.


Sociologist Max Weber has analyzed the legacy of Protestantism in particular as it relates to the development of Capitalism. See Weber, Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. 21

The most interesting question for religion, therefore, is not whether one is religious or not, but what kind of religion they practice (or refuse to practice). For the most part, religions have not much of a clue what to do with these tensions, or with tensions in general. In fact, many religious people refuse to acknowledge tensions within their families and communities, which is why in religious communities sexual abuse often goes unreported, racism is not challenged, and economic exploitation is so often overlooked. The result is that in these settings those who represent the dominant powers win out. And because the depth of the tensions is not acknowledged, religious calls to reconciliation and love are not only shallow but likely perpetuate the problem. In these cases, labour presents another challenge to religion that is not foreign to many of our traditions, raising the following questions: What would it mean to side with those who are exploited and oppressed rather than to stay neutral in situations of injustice? What would it mean to confront sin and evil rather than to accommodate to the status quo? Organisers know that they need a target. What if religion could help us with that, but without the need to demonise individuals, according to the old saying “Hate the sin, love the sinner”? In sum, religion that has been awakened by labour does not necessarily have to serve the capitalist status quo; traditional religious notions such as sin and salvation or conversion and repentance do not have to be abandoned. Just the opposite: in the struggle against the capitalist exploi tation and oppression of labour religions gather new steam and can make a difference. Liberals

Leicestershire protests Racism in the Workplace. Image by 0ldManRonin.


For the history, see Kruse, One Nation under God.


might be surprised to find that even the fire-andbrimstone sermons of yesterday, which they seek to leave behind, might be useful again, although their target would now be different. Instead of proclaiming judgment against the masses of working people, judgment can now be proclaimed on a sinful status quo—the absolute maximisation of profit at all cost—that is harming both working people and the globe in unprecedented ways. The goal of this religion is not feeling guilty but acts of repentance and conversion, which in the Hebrew traditions always implied practical responses: the Hebrew word shub connected to concepts of repentance and conversion literally means turning around and going the other way.

The Future of Religion Religion ebbs and flows. In the United States, religion has enjoyed great success for many years, seemingly defeating developments of secularisation that marked Europe. Today, however, even in the United States interest in organised religion is waning, especially among the younger generation and particularly in the mainline denominations of Christian ity. Because much of the public image of religion in the United States is tied to a religious landslide that was engineered by the Religious Right with the support of corporate America, it stands and falls with this relationship.10 For decades now, the Religious Right has managed to present itself as more faithful to religion and orthodox, more concerned about traditional religious values, and it has managed to create the impression that it is closer to the origins of Christianity. This method, to be sure, betrays a false logic: upholding what amounts to the family values of the 1950s (heterosexual nuclear families, gender stereotypes, etc.) does not necessarily mean returning to the values of Jesus.

being just one more outlet for socially engaged people of religion, engaging in the struggles of labour and class can help reclaim the heart of various religions. If images of the divine set the stage in these struggles, as many of religious traditions insist, religious people will only find God if they look for God in these struggles rather than in the vestiges of dominant religion.14

Wrapped around the Haus des Lehrers ( House of the Teachers) is a mosaic mural titled Unser Leben ( Our Life), depicting various occupations of ordinary people in East Berlin, Germany.

A recent study by the Brookings Institution provides another framework for the future of religion: The religious right spoke to the country’s worries about social change. The religious progressive movement speaks to the coun try’s desire for economic change. In the late 20th century, ‘family values’ were invoked in opposition to what many saw (and feared) as a cultural revolution. In the early twenty-first century, family stability is most threatened by an economic revolution that has created a growing gap between the economy’s productivity gains and the wage growth of most American workers.11 What might be the prospects of the other framework of religion de scribed in this passage? What if the Brookings Institution is right and the concerns of economic justice prove to be the fertile ground of this era?12 As people are concerned about increasing inequalities and injustices, particularly in the world of work and labour where it affects them the most (and race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality are part of this), they are also paying attention to how these things play out in the churches. People judge their religious communities in terms of economic justice as well: forty-five percent of those who had been raised Evangelical, forty- three percent of those raised Catholic, and thirty-one percent of those raised in a mainline Protestant denomination said the focus on “money and power” was an important reason they no longer associated with a church.13 In other words, even though religion in the United States has gained prestige by accommodating to the interests of the ruling class, it has also lost a great deal. More and more people seem to be getting tired of religion playing the wingman of the status quo. And, what is perhaps most surprising, those getting tired of dominant religion might be the ones who actually care more about religion than those who continue to go through the motions without asking questions. If religion keeps losing those who care and retains those who don’t, it does not have much of a future. When religion gets involved in the tensions of real life and engages with labour and class, things change. Far from

While the future of religion will depend on how it deals with the struggles of life, religion in the past has also been decided along these lines. How has religion been able to maintain an edge amidst innumerable temptations to assimilate to the status quo? It seems that joining people and the divine in the grassroots struggles has kept alternative forms of religion alive. Alternative religion has been deeply shaped, for instance, through the efforts of a St. Francis who sought to reconnect the dominant church with the poor of the Middle Ages, through taking a stand with the peasants of early modernity that shaped Protestant reformers like Thomas Müntzer, and through the experiences of the African slaves in the United States, shaping both alternative Christianity and alternative Islam.15 These movements have been so powerful that some of their tradi tions are still used in worship today, from Francis’ prayer to the spirituals and the gospel hymns. The close relationship between labour and religion is not a new idea but goes back to the origins of the Abrahamic religions. Slightly over a century ago, even mainline churches in the United States had the good sense to support the concerns of working people in the fights against child labour, for the eight-hour workday and the weekend, for the respect of women at work, and for collective bargaining.16 Today, the official documents of many mainline denominations still support collective bargaining, but only a small percentage of members are even aware of this. What might religion have learned in these efforts to support labour? Did the God worshipped by these religions look different than the God of capitalism, whose main goal is the maximisation of profit?


Davis et al., Faith in Equality, 49.


Davis et al., Faith in Equality, 50.


Davis et al., Faith in Equality, 26.


This insight was powerfully expressed by a German theologian who fought the false religion of German fascism, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. See the monumental biography by Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.


See Raboteau, Slave Religion. Recall that the Nation of Islam was founded in the 1930s, still under the impression of the ongoing struggles of African Americans.


See Fones-Wolf, Trade Union Gospel. 23

The future of religion may depend on whether it manages to develop an edge or whether it continues to accommodate to the status quo. Today this edge shapes up perhaps nowhere more clearly than in the relation of religion and labour. After a seminar on religion and labour with the state- wide Texas AFL-CIO, a young organiser asked whether I was suggesting that labour should begin to lobby religion, just like it was lobbying politics. A better way to phrase this concern might be to talk about organising religion: people of faith—many of which are working people—can pull together and organise so that religion can reclaim its edge and recover some of its most powerful traditions. How else are we going to prevent the dominant powers from continuing to shape religion in their image?

Labour Radicalised by Religion Just as labour can help us rediscover and reclaim the edge of religion, religion can help us rediscover and reclaim the edge of labour. This is not merely a matter of revitalising labour unions, just like merely revitalising existing religious communities would be missing the point. What would it take to reclaim the significance, the energy, and the power of labour? How would this be linked to reclaiming the significance, the energy, and the power of religion? None of this can happen when religion is treated like a cheap date for labour organising. Religion needs to be more than a place where labour organisers can recruit and mobilise warm bodies or “rent a collar,” as the saying goes. To begin with, religious traditions can provide important resources that help clarify the importance of labour and class at a time when these topics have become taboo. Next, religions can help generate a kind of critical thinking by asking questions about what really matters in life. In these ways, religions can help question the dominant powers of the age and identify alternative powers. Production—still the basis for the accumulation of profit in the capitalist economy—may serve as an example for what is at stake. When viewed from the perspective of labour and religion, the perspective of production changes: Productive labour matters not just in terms of profit but in terms of the actual contributions that working people make to the community, shaping history from the bottom up. This perspective is supported by religious traditions that remind us that God stands with working people in the exodus from Egypt and, in Christianity, becomes human as a member of the working class. Dr Joerg Rieger is Distinguished Professor of Theology at Vanderbilt University and holds the Cal Turner Chancellor’s Chair in Wesleyan Studies. He is Founding Director of the Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice. He is also Affiliated Faculty of Turner Family Centre for Social Ventures, Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. He is author and editor of 24 books and more than 170 academic articles.


CWM General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum brought greetings to the 11th General Assembly of Cevaa, which also coincides with its 50th anniversary. With the theme “Let’s keep the flame”, it was held electronically from 4 to 8 October.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, On behalf of the Council for World Mission family, I bring you greetings of peace and joy in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. My heart is filled with joy as I see you virtually those in Montpellier and those participating from the respective countries. But, unfortunately, even though I want to be there physically to celebrate the longstanding partnership and close missional engagement between Cevaa and CWM, I could not come because of the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. The world today is facing numerous challenges. We are experiencing social, political, and economic inequalities; poverty, discrimination based on race, ethnicity, colour, and gender; geopolitical conflicts, and environmental degradation. In fact, the world is plagued with not just one pandemic but many. However, COVID-19 has changed our lives so much, disrupting our lives; creating fear, anxiety, and sorrow; and confining us to the screens and computers. It forced us to close our worship places, pause our missional activities, and halt our community projects. Most of our local and global exchange ministries have also been hindered. As a result, we are experiencing an unprecedented stagnation in our ministerial activities. In short, the COVID-19 has poured cold water on the fire of all our missional activities. It is in this context, I see the theme of Cevaa’s 11th General Assembly as well as the Jubilee, “Cevaa, Let’s keep the flame,” very relevant and important to rekindle the fire that is being slowly drenched by the ongoing challenges. Apostle Paul, while going to Jerusalem with alms of support during his third missionary journey, encourages the church in Rome to keep the flame. He writes, in Romans 12:11-13, Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. 11

In the midst of all the challenges we have been facing today, the message of Paul is still relevant to our context. We need to keep the hope alive and be persevering while we continue to do the works of God. Let us not allow cold water to be poured on our zeal to serving the Lord among the people amid their challenges. Let us continue to ignite hope and be fervent in Spirit. Let’s continue to feed the flame with our zeal keeping it alive. Let us continue to be watchful, resilient, creative, finding opportunities to serve God and the communities even in the midst of the Pandemic. I firmly believe that Cevaa, as the Community of Churches in Mission, will continue to carry out the mission of God despite the ongoing challenges to the mission, keeping the flame on and igniting zeal to serve God and his people beyond the boundaries. And I assure you that the CWM accompanies and walks with Cevaa in this great mission. Finally, I would like to congratulate all the leadership of the Cevaa for this successful conduct of the General Assembly and wish all the best for the Jubilee. I pray that God will continue to lead you and guide you in all the days to come. May the blessings of our Triune God—God the Creator, and God the Liberator, and God the Comforter—be with us all, always. 25

Saving the World by Killing

Communities in Wales? By Alun Lenny

Huge fires, devastating floods and rising sea levels are the obvious results of climate change. But one less obvious result is the way that large companies are buying farms in Wales to plant trees in order to create ‘carbon credits’ that enable them to continue polluting the environment whilst threatening the future of communities and the Welsh language in parts of the country. ALUN LENNY explains. Picture: Brechfa forest


limate change is the biggest threat to humanity ever, and planting trees on an enormous scale is acknowledged as a progressive way of dealing with the situation, as trees swallow and store CO2, the greenhouse gas that contributes mainly towards global warming. The UK Climate Change Committee wants to see up to 120,000 hectares of trees planted in Wales between now and 2050. That is equivalent to 460 square miles.

Trees and the carbon credit trade Alongside the forest strategy, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was created. Under this scheme, a cap was put on large companies that produce high levels of CO2, along with a fine of £1,000 for every tonne of carbon that is over-produced. But it is possible for these companies to buy ‘carbon credits’ to counter the over-production and through that avoid paying any fines. A cheap and easy way (around £22 per tonne) is to buy the carbon credits in an auction from companies who buy land and plant trees on a huge scale in order to produce the credits – this is known as carbon offsetting. This is a market where there is great profits to be made in the name of saving the environment. As well as trading in carbon credits, these companies from outside Wales have already claimed £1.3 million pounds in grants under the Glastir Woodland Creation scheme run by the Welsh Government in order to plant more trees in our country. This public money derived from the pockets of taxpayers in Wales flows across Offa’s Dyke into the coffers of 26 INSiGHT OCTOBER 2021

international companies who are buying family farms to turn into vast forests.

Trees where there were communities Foresight, an investments company based in the Shard, London, has bought Frongoch, Brynglas and Esgair Hir, farms in the Cwrt y Cadno area, and Banc farm in the area nearby in order to plant trees. According to John Thomas, who lived at Frongoch all his life until three years ago, the land of Wales and the way of life is being sacrificed so that big companies can continue to pour carbon into the environment. Across the border in Powys, three farms in the Llanwrtyd area have been bought for the same reason. Susan Price, the former secretary for the congregational chapel in Llanwrtyd, said that the situation reminded her of the poet Gwenallt’s words in his poem ‘Rhydcymerau’ about ‘trees where there were communities, forests where there had been farms,’ as livelihoods, the language and communities disappear.

It is important that those who create the policies communicate with local communities and scientists in order to find the best way forward – Dr Bonnie Waring, Imperial College London.

Campaigners and scientists’ doubts Whilst we accept that trees swallow and store CO2, Greenpeace, the international organisation that has campaigned for the future of the environment for over 50 years, doubt how much effect this forest strategy will have. According to Greenpeace, the best way to fight climate change is to leave the carbon – coal, gas, oil – in the ground, they have little to say about the hypocrisy of the giant companies that are buying into the tree planting scheme whilst continuing to pollute on a grand scale. Greenpeace state that it is not possible to buy our way out of this climate emergency. This is also the opinion of a report by Dr Bonnie Waring of Imperial College London. It will take decades for new trees to be effective as CO2 sinks, says Dr Waring. It is important that those who create the policies communicate with local communities and scientists in order to find the best way forward.

“...the way of life is being sacrificed so that big companies can continue to pour carbon into the environment. ” Entire Welsh farms being bought by outside companies for tree planting ‘almost on a weekly basis’. Photo by Peter Aikman / Edge of Rhyd y Felin forest / CC BY-SA 2.0.

Local governance It is apparent that this has not happened in Wales. As the tree planting strategy has started, some councils and members of parliament see the need to get to grips with the situation by trying to ensure local governance in order to mitigate the harm to communities. If this succeeds, and trees are planted in the right places and on a reasonable scale, somethings that is seen as a threat at present could be beneficial to farmers and rural communities. But in the face of market forces, this will be an enormous challenge.

Alun Lenny was a BBC TV and radio journalist for 30 years, broadcasting through the medium of Welsh and English. He lives in the town of Carmarthen, where he’s an elected councillor and former mayor. Alun has been a lay preacher for 18 years and is a deacon at Bwlch-y-corn Congregational chapel, which is a member of UWI. 27


Finding Innovative Ways to Preach the Gospel

in the Era of the Coronavirus Pandemic By Rev. Jane Kaluba (Immanuel/Boscobel churches of The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands)


he COVID 19 pandemic has become a significant global crisis that requires individuals, organisations, the church and nations to take necessary steps to cope. As a Minster of Word and Sacraments in the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI), ministering at Immanuel/Boscobel charge in St. Mary, I never imagined that a time would come when I will be preaching to the camera! The COVID 19 pandemic brought all the changes that no one ever imagined. Churches were closed and depending on the spike in numbers of people infected, it became the new normal for the government to limit the number of people gathered for worship or to close the doors to the church entirely. The context in which the two congregations I pastor are located, are homes occupied by many retired senior citizens. Most of the members in my two charges are 65 years old and above and this was the age group that the government ordered to stay home as they were most vulnerable to COVID 19. That meant that the church was going to be empty. As leaders of the church we decided to go digital as quickly as possible. In the time of no physical contact, it meant that members would have to take up the challenge to learn how to use technology for various programmes of the church like Sunday Worship, Bible study, Board meetings, Prayers and Fasting, counselling and Congregational meetings etc. Most of the older members of the church could not manage to operate their gadgets and some entirely refused to use Technological platforms like Zoom. This is the time that as a Leader I began to seek the face of the Lord in prayer. (Hebrews 11:6) I believed in my heart that the Lord would show me ways in which I could reach out to his children who were locked down in their homes afraid to be exposed to the virus.


The idea of walking in the community and preaching the word came up but how was I to do it since there was to be ‘social distance’? This was when God showed me one of the elders in the church, a man with a great passion for Evangelism whose name is Bro Hopeton Gordon. He was recently commissioned to be a Pastor. I shared the idea with him and suggested that we use the loudspeaker that belonged to the church. He agreed and said he was ready to start. I remember the first day he came home and before we could go out into the community, we decided to pray. We thanked God for his faithfulness and asked him to minister to the people who were afraid, and that the Holy Spirit would minister to those lonely in their homes. I had prepared some short Bible verses and words to share and thereafter pray for the people. We drove through the community playing gospel music as the vehicle was fitted with an amplifier. We could see people coming out of their houses wanting to hear what was going on. Some people who were peeping out of their windows and some in their yards, were waving at us encouraging us to go on. We would find a spot where we could stop and bro Gordon would introduce himself, the minister (Rev Jane Kaluba), my niece Suwilanji Mwansa and his grandson, Joshua Henry. He then went on to encourage the people and explain the purpose of the mission which was to encourage people to hold on to God during the difficult times of the pandemic. After introductions, he would then pray and read the bible and later hand over to me to give a short devotion and then enter into prayers for the community, individuals, and families. At end of the prayers, bro Gordon would provide the name of the church and phone numbers of the minister for those who wanted someone to talk to, or visit the church for one-to-one counselling with physical distance. Pastor Gordon would give a prayer and we would return to our starting point to pray and give thanks for the work done. Testimonies The days that followed were exciting as we were receiving testimonies from members of community calling and testifying that they were able to listen to the preaching and the prayers and that they were greatly ministered to. One member from the community said that she never felt alone. Some members of the church were able to testify that God was at work and the community outreach should continue. Our prayer is that Outreach will continue even with the few resources that we have. The church has seen its offering drop drastically, making it difficult to find resources for gas for transport to take us around in the community. Going though the community helps us to identify those in need of material or spiritual support. It has also opened a way for personal evangelism while physically distancing. What a joy it has brought to our hearts that even if the doors to the church are closed, the gospel is not closed. Glory be to God!

“I believed in my heart that the Lord would show me ways in which I could reach out to his children who were locked down in their homes afraid to be exposed to the virus. ” 29

Jione Havea’s Partners in Mission Story Rev. Dr Jione Havea is a Discernment And Radical Engagement (DARE) Context Reading Resource Facilitator serving in the Pacific region.

born to parents who were already working for the church, and What inspired you to be a PIM? Ii was grew up playing with kids for whom being in the church was part

of life. So i did not have a "big" or "significant" inspiration experience. It was part of growing up, to be involved in church tasks, services and events -- and in our part of the world, church was an integral part of society so one can't do service for or in the church without also being involved in public or social services. They come together, even in the modern time. Inspiration was not explosive for me, but staying in the service is the big challenge. I will have a better answer to why i am still in the service, when i am close to exiting!

What do you do as a DARE PIM? My involvement is with the DARE (discernment and radical engagement) programme of CWM. I am part of a team -- with Michael Jagessar, Peachy Labayo, Sainimili Kata -- who organise and host the eDARE webinars. Before Covid, there were annual DARE Forums at different places: Bangkok in 2017, Mexico in 2018, Taiwan in 2019.

Because of Covid, the 2020 meeting was held virtually (Zoom webinars); the eDARE team is now in the process of organizing the 2021 meeting, and planning for future ones. Information are available at this link:

How have you been coping in the Our family lives in a church-linked property, and we have plenty of space and lots of privileges. So our family is coping fine, and COVID-19 period? learning to do home schooling and go for walks and to the market.

But this is not the case for many people in the church, and outside of the church, who have lost jobs and their support systems. In the Pasifika islands, people are really struggling. Maohi Nui and Fiji are in the middle of outbreaks, and the Covid cases and deaths are rising. We have islands currently without Covid cases, and my hope is that the population will be vaccinated before the Covid virus arrives. These islands do not have the health services required to face the 30 INSiGHT OCTOBER 2021

disease and the aftermath, and so it will be devastating. I'm not trying to be pessimistic, but simply being realistic. Of course, to be vaccinated requires vaccines. And that is part of the problem, because our islands do not have the funds to be able to access the vaccines. So while our family is coping, many families are struggling and preparing for things to get worse. Again, I'm being realistic -- it might be ok now, but it will get worse.

What are your overall goals and The eDARE team has been in conversation on how this CWM objectives for this mission programme could take advantage of the platforms available in Cyberspace, to continue and expand what we are already doing. But journey? also, to be more relevant and useful for people and communities on the ground -- especially across the CWM regions. So stay tuned! But be warned: my preference is for the islands, small and big!

Prayer by Lembe Sivile

Shepherding God! you have always demonstrated your love and care for all the created order from the beginning of time. We pause, in your presence to acknowledge you as the most supreme being and master of our lives. We celebrate you for being so faithful to us even when many times we are not as faithful. Your accompanying presence in our thin and thick experiences is always a soothing thrust, thank you for being so trustworthy that when all things seem to be falling part, you remain steadfast to your promises. Help us especially during these unusual, troubled, painful, uncertain and fearful times, to remain hopeful in you, the God of possibilities. We pray for friends and families who are passing through great test of their faith either by the loss they have experienced or the void brought by this pandemic and other disasters. For those who may be at the breaking point; feeling a sense of reaching the end of their journey, we pray that your assuring voice will be audible and your hand warm enough to wrap them. Gracious Lord! when our humanness begins to take charge of our feelings, thoughts and emotions, help us to find our way into your presence. In our lonely moments, help us to remember your promise of not leaving nor forsaking us. In our despondency help us to make you our refuge and strength. When we feel lost and over taken by confusion, may we give you chance to lead and guide, may you be the light that shine bright in our darkest moments. We pray for all members of the community of faith and especially the Council for World Mission family, that you may increase our zeal, passion, devotion, trust and tenacity to remain true to our vocations and weather the storms of the time with the confidence that you are right in our spaces with us. We pray for those who are finding it unbearable to serve in their contexts, that you will increase their fortitude and provide what they require to be effective in their mission engagements.

Rev. Lembe Sivile is a mission partner from the United Church of Zambia serving with the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

We beseech you to heal our world from all the pain, frustrations, injustice, selfishness, divisions, hurt, insensitivity, irresponsibility, and bring us to the full knowledge of your light. May the power which raised Jesus from the dead help us rise from all forces and powers that continue to put us under. Lord, in your mercy hear our prayers and grant us your peace, for we ask these and other mercies in and through the name of Jesus the Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen. 31


This article appeared in the August 2019 issue of INSiGHT.

Humanity and Spirituality

in the face of the Fourth Industrial Revolution by Rev Dr Park Seong-Won

Dr Park Seong-Won is President of Gyeongan Theological Graduate University


he issue of the Fourth Industrial Revolution was tabled by Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairperson of the World Economic Forum at WEC annual meeting which took place in Davos, Switzerland in 2016. Since then, it has emerged as a buzzword for our time as a revolutionary process that will change the system of our future society completely. The First Industrial Revolution based on the steam engine and railway mechanisation took place in the latter half of the 18th century, the Second Industrial Revolution based on mass production, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the Third Industrial Revolution, which brought knowledge information based on computers and the internet, in the 20th century. Now, entering into the 21st century, human civilisation is opening the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution which breaks the boundaries of all fields and opens up a new civilisation that transforms existing systems into new dimensions. It fuses mobile phones, supercomputing, the Internet of things, AI Technology, and specialty areas such as autonomous vehicles, genetic engineering, neurological technology, and brain science all together. At the threshold of the 21st century, the United States has already engaged in research work along this direction foreseeing that this century will be the age of convergence technology, following upon the information technology of the 20th century.


The simple concept of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a system that integrates reality and virtual worlds. Scientists explain that the real world, which is called offline or the world of atomic atom, and the virtual world called online or the world of bit, that now exist separately, are merging into one fourth industrial system. It is a new civilisation in which the things we have only imagined until now are becoming reality.

We already enjoy the partial benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as automobile navigation systems, sensor operated devices, rice cookers equipped with artificial intelligence, robot service, computer documents stored in the cloud to be opened anywhere, office environments, and new information sharing such as Google, where information from the world instantly appears on my cell phone, and so on. These technologies have already been introduced and used in our lives. The era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a time when machines work and humans do not work. According to a recent study, when the Fourth Industrial Revolution is in full swing, 47% of human work will be replaced by machines and more than 7 million jobs will disappear.¹

1 Jobs that will disappear in 10 years are simple repetition jobs such as call centres, counsellors, professors, taxi drivers, tax accountants, accountants, simple assemblers, doctors, pharmacists and lawyers. 33

When we talk about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, our concerns are usually focused on what human beings should do when jobs are taken by artificial intelligence machines because the machinery is replacing the work of humans, or on the basic income system, because so many will be unemployed. A new industry of leisure might emerge, in order to use the surplus time when humans do not work. Education also needs to be shifted from education for knowledge accumulation to education for creative maker that neither machine nor ordinary human beings can do. The main focus for responding to the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has been concentrated on the responses to the damage or ways to adapt. However, from a theological perspective, the challenge is greater than that dimension. As Klaus Schwab, who had thrown away the buzzword of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, has said, “It is not only changing the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of doing things but also ‘who’ we are.” Until now, machines have always been an auxiliary means for human work and existed at a subordinate level to humans. But in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, human beings no longer control machines, but rather, humans coexist with machines or are controlled by machines, and furthermore, human beings and machines are fused, and human beings extend through machines, and human progress is led by machines. This is the direction toward transhumanism, and the goal is to become a post-human beyond human limits.


The convergence science which fuses nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive neuroscience intends to transform future human life through fusion technology, including artificial intelligence, robotics and synthetic biology. Based on the assumption that nature is a given, modern science has developed technology aimed at expanding the areas that humans can utilise in nature in order to obtain more benefits from nature more efficiently. Fusion science, however, thinks that it is possible to transform, reconstruct, and even create nature without simply seeing it as a given. This technology is applied to the human body as well. The human body can also be transformed, redesigned, and created, and not only the body, but also the human mind and heart are regarded as items that can be edited, manipulated and controlled.² Modern science presupposes species boundaries, but fusion science fuses different species beyond it. It aims to evolve into a science that makes creation possible by free fusion between technologies for the purpose of transforming and re-configuring beyond the boundaries between humans and nature, humans and animals, animals and plants, species of animals and plants, human beings and machines, and even the creation of new nature. For example, synthetic biology, where biotechnology meets nanotechnology and information-communication technology is, literally, aimed at synthesising and creating living organisms themselves.


ibid. 157. analysts, SW developers, Workers, robotics engineers, artists, security experts, and bioengineers. 35

Human Android Asuna. (Source:, 20/11/2014)

In synthetic biology, the primary meaning of synthesis is the redesign or reconstruction of the components of life that exist in nature. This includes the editing and cloning of the human body and mind, and it is possible to change sexuality by convenience. If my body and the machine are uncomfortable and disturbed, it can be installed outside the body. Brain science thinks that it is possible to extend the life of a human brain when it is dead by planting an artificial chip in the human brain to make a data base of a pattern of the human thinking and behaviour. Fusion science opens the era of eternal life. It does not stop here. People like George Church, molecular geneticist at Harvard University and Steen Rasmussen, the Danish physicist, have gone beyond merely integrating what exists to creating biological components that do not exist in nature and, ultimately, to artificially create a life. The human being itself will be a totally different dimension than before, when Cyborg, a modified cyborg creature that replaces the body except for the brain, or trans-human, which aims to transcend the species as a human being through fusion science, or post-human. So it is called trans human, post human. Post human becomes Human, the Creator.


Trans humanism and Post Humanism3 The definition of "post-human" and "trans-human" is still ambiguous. Some scholars have pointed out that the trans-human transcends the current level of human being, that is, the process of converging with the forms of human new beings, and the post-human is in the sense of post-human after such a process has been completed.⁴ It is also sometimes concise. Trans-humanism is an intellectual and cultural movement that uses science and technology to improve people's mental and physical qualities and abilities, and an attempt by human beings to transcend the biological fate or limit given by evolution by means of science and technology. Trans-humanists believe that the appearance of the human species is not in the ultimate form of species development but merely the early stages of evolution. The scholars say that trans-humanism is an "intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally enhancing human conditions by developing and extending a technology that removes aging and improves human intellectual, physical, and psychological abilities."⁵ It refers to the dimensions borrowed from the power of advanced technologies such as information science, cognitive science, nanotechnology, bioengineering, robotics, etc., or to the level of a mechanical- or artificial body-wearing spirit in place of biological body. So, Post Human refers to the human being combined with the machine through technology. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is an industry that brings this from the debate to reality.

3 4


This section is based on Kang Young-Aan and Lee Sang-Heon's essay, "Philosophical Reflections on Post-Humanism”. Park Il-Joon, Theology in the Post Human Era (1) : The Coming and Challenge of the Post-Human Era <Daegu and Curry - Post Human and Theology> Bostrom, Transhumanist FAQ, " The Sogang Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 29, May. 2012, pp.189-217 37

Post Humans possess intellectual abilities superior to ours, and is free from diseases, emotionally stable, and even able to remove emotions such as discomfort.⁶ They suggest using morphology virtue-engineering, which can overcome human beastliness through emotional control and regulation, using neuropharmacology, genetic engineering, brain stimulation, and nanotechnology, and argue that it is necessary for the future of humanity.⁷ It also means that ethical standards will be established by technology, and furthermore, that technology must have such a responsibility or a sense of calling. There are some people, like Francis Fukuyama, who criticise transhumanism as the most dangerous idea in the world, and Yubal Harari who has argued that humanity is now divided between a very few superhuman and the useless human classes, and warns that once the majority of people lose their political and economic power, the situation of inequality will rapidly become severe. However, many others take this as the breakthrough progress of humankind. There is much controversy about what has had such a decisive impact on the ecological reality of the earth. The time from 15,000 years ago to today, has been called the Holocene. It is argued that it should be renamed as the Anthropocene, because human activity has had a decisive influence on the geological and ecological fluctuation. The counter argument against this says that the last 3,000 years should be named as Capitalocene, because it is capital which led this era. Ulrich Duchrow sees that the end of this Capitalocene era would eventually lead the world to the destruction of the entire ecosystem, that is, Nekrocene. If technology transforms all living beings into another dimension, I wonder whether the future might be called Technocene. Trans Humans and Post Humans finally force God to retire and is now immersed in the belief that humans can sit on God's chair and become the subject of creation.

6 7

N. Bostrom, "What is transhumanism?", P.5, requoted from op. cit., 159, Ibid, 160.


Theological Reflections In this new context, the issue we are facing most seriously would be the question of what human beings are and what human minds are. As Klaus Schwab, who first raised the issue of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, said, "This revolution does not only change what we do and how we do it, but we do not know who we are.", it will challenge the foundation of what it means to be human. Human intelligence, emotions, even spirituality may be a chaotic state that cannot be discerned, and we may face the situation of confusion and chaos in which we do not understand who we are. An unprecedented challenge that has never been raised before will be raised, and that is how to understand and how to relate to human beings who are edited, transformed and recreated beyond the activities of human mind and emotions which are coordinated through the machine, and what kind of world will be this type of human beings become the subject of history? Therefore, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, transhumanism, and post-humanism will push our backs into a situation where the church and theology are challenged to initiate another Reformation. But the response to this challenge will not be so simple. I do not know which direction the development of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be led precisely, and what kind of the result there may be. All previous industrial revolutions and philosophical and theological responses to them took a very long journey. Creative responses will take time.

The question is what the reference point would be. We must rethink the reference point of judgment as the Reformation did. From the standpoint of the Reformation, the radix we have to turn to as people of faith is the Bible. I consider the Genesis story of good and evil to be one of the most significant biblical reference points. At the threshold of the 21st century, we wondered what the world would look like in the future. There were many predictions, which could be summarised into two different predictions. One was an optimistic view that the 21st century will be a very liveable and convenient century with the development of epoch-making science and technology, and the other perspective was a worrisome view that more disaster, confusion and crisis would come in the 21st century. As the world has entered more fully into the 21st century, we have been experiencing both outcomes simultaneously. The development of science and technology has made human life more convenient. But at the same time, the world is stained by more terror, wars, natural disasters, and all kinds of unprecedented problems. As seen in recent Europe, terrorism has become routine, and as we note in the daily papers, crimes are becoming much crueller. Climate change and ecological disaster are threatening the life of all living beings including humans. Natural disasters of all kinds, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, desertification, wild fires and fine dusts, created by human industrial civilisation, are becoming more frequent, larger and stronger. Nowadays it is said that ecological end could be imminent.

Behind the optimistic view of the future and the view of concern, there are different perspectives: One is that human development is ‘infinite' and 'human capability is limitless' and the other, 'human development has limitations’, and should be limited. It seems that two discourses are in conflict. What does the Bible say about this? The guideline implied in Genesis 3 is the following: You "may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;" but "You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.' The serpent's counter argument was "You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." But the choice human beings made was this: They "saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise," and then they "took of its fruit and ate." The consequence is noteworthy. Bacon interpreted this passage as follows: Human knowledge prior to eating this fruit was pure knowledge, but this has been lost. If this is restored through scientific knowledge, human beings can build a new Atlantis with the restored knowledge. Transhumanists and post-humanists who lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution seem to aiming at the realisation of this by fusion technology. 39

Knowledge Proliferation - Adam ate the forbidden fruit. It took many generations for the current knowledge to evolve. As we moved away from “dark ages” the skies brightened and finally, an explosion of knowledge, and a full clarity of all things. The age of Technology has arrived. Oil on panel 16 x 20 in. (40.64 x 50.8 cm.) Inspired by an etching of Albrecht Dürer. (Painting by Daniel Heller)

God told us to eat all the fruits in the garden. The development of science could be included in this category and many more advanced scientific technologies could also be encompassed here. However, the limitation that God granted was development up to the tree in the middle of garden. What would be the borderline between 'before the tree of the garden' and 'after the tree of the garden'? Here we could set up one criterion for the Fourth Industrial Revolution era. Relationship is the criterion. Not merely mechanic relationship, but organic relationship. The convergence technology leading digital civilisation into the future should be evaluated and adjusted based on whether all life networks in the universe would be well maintained organically as a result of the new technology. Will what the Fourth Industrial Revolution makes be 'so good for life, a delight to the eyes, and so desired to make one wise'? Will the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden of the Fourth Industrial Revolution be organically sustaining all life networks in the universe? The criterion for evaluating it is not a vague fusing relationship, a mechanically connected relationship with each other, a big data association, a mechanical relationship between editing and copying, or a technical relationship, but an organic relationship, reciprocity, mutual relationship ensuring peace, justice and good life for all. Many people are of the opinion that the relationship between the phenomena that emerge from the Fourth Industrial Revolution are going to be fragile. For example, Yuval Harari predicted that the Fourth Industrial Revolution may split humankind into a small class of 'superhuman' and a huge underclass of 'useless' people. Once the useless class lose their economic and political power, inequality levels could spiral alarmingly.⁸ We are warned that consolidation of new-classism and economic polarisation might take place.



Economic polarisation is predicted by many scholars. As “peace” in Chinese character is a sign of economic equality, economic inequality breaks not only the economy but also all relations including peace. In view of the fact that human conflicts come from both causes of infringement of human dignity and economic inequality, the Fourth Industrial Revolution can be seen to begin with inequality of economic polarisation and inequality of human dignity. In addition, we are now witnessing that the relationships between the creatures on Earth and the ecosystems are already being twisted and the negative consequences are getting worse and worse.

Those who are promoting the Fourth Industrial Revolution argue that the limits of life could be overcome completely. Self-driving vehicles can reduce the traffic accidents, and biotechnology can control human nature and human behavioural maladies through moral engineering. However, what we are now experiencing is that socioeconomic, global political, and human spiritual situations becoming more and more out of control, even though the history of science and technology may be progressing. The ecological destruction that human developmentalism has been producing is already becoming an ecological catastrophe. Will technology be able to turn all these chaotic situations into order again? 41

Ways Forward What should we do? It is a task to be studied for a long time, but at least two overall areas need to be addressed: The first area is developing relational epistemology and its connections with spirituality. To ameliorate the human anthropocene, capitalocene, nekrocene, and technocene eras on earth, we need a relational epistemology, “I am because we are”, which understands that all living and non-living beings in the cosmos are connected for mutual life.

Hand of coexistence is installed at the sea near by Pohang in South Korea. (Photo by Engineer9 via UnSplash)

Dualism, or a dichotomous epistemology, has created hierarchical and mechanical relationships between humans and nature, God and nature, heaven and earth - all of which have led to a controlled structural understanding that one dominates and controls another: the ecological crisis, the ever-worsening geo-political, geo-economic, geo-social and geo-cultural crises. Convergence science is adopting convergence technology, which seems to be an integrated approach at first glance, but everything is still understood as separate, needing to be mechanically combined. This epistemology is leading to destruction on the large scale, although it may fix small things. Concepts like Ubuntu of Africa, Sumac Kawsay and Suma qamaña of South America, and the Sangsaeng of Asia offer us a connectional way of thinking and building common life, and we need to create new research and educational systems built on those epistemological bases. The second is a new perception of the earth and her connections with spirituality. In Asia one thinks that the universe consists of heaven (God, the divine, Spirit), the earth and human beings. According to this framework, until medieval times, God was the only focus. Human beings and nature were invisible. Certainly, they also existed, but they were not regarded as existing in reality. Since the Reformation and the Renaissance, however, human beings have become the focus, to the exclusion of God and the earth. In a sense, heaven (God) was slowly pushed to the back, the earth became the object human beings manipulated freely, and human beings became the centre of the universe. In the future when not only human beings but also the entire creation face an ecological catastrophe, however, human civilisation should focus on the earth from where life is generated. We should not divide heaven, earth and human beings. Rather, we should regard the earth relationally, where heaven, the earth and human beings are organically connected, as in Ubuntu, Sangsaeng, Suma qamaña and Sumak Kawsai. An earth-friendly perspective is not just a vague abstract viewpoint, but rather a revolution that sets the earth and her entire ecosystem back into the centre of life and civilisation. We must pay attention to the soil itself. To overcome the present climate change and ecological crises, we need revolutionary ideas to bring agriculture back to the centre of future civilisation, which needs to be shaped on the axis of agriculture. Diarmuid O’Murchu speaks of spiritual homecoming, and the specific place of this spiritual homecoming may be a civilisational homecoming, returning to the earth.⁹


10 11 Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace, Knopf, New York 1990. p. 10-12.


Conclusion Even though we are based on an aposteriori theory that human beings’ evilness is acquired in a post-natal way, the reality is that the evilness of human beings is getting worse and worse, and almost the last device under which human beings could be controlled would be morality, ethics, spirituality, and faith etc. Eventually, spirituality will become the final control tower of human beings. But the spirituality is never easy to function on its own. Vaclav Havel(1936-2011), who had led the labour movement under the socialist system and had become president of the Czech Republic after the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc in 1989, suggested a concept of "Existential Revolution" for a possible way to find humanity again in the time of human identity crisis. “I think that the present crisis of the world... is directly related to the spiritual state of modern civilisation. The spiritual state can be expressed as a loss, which is the loss of metaphysical certainty, the loss of experience of transcendental existence, the loss of supernatural moral authority, and the loss of higher value. This may sound paradoxical, but only when we turn ourselves towards absolute existence, towards the order of nature or universe based on extramundane authority, towards the moral order and its superhuman source, we can truly return to human dimension, and our life could escape from the threat of 'massive suicide' or withstand it. This direction, only this direction, can lead us to the creation of a social structure that can once again be a human being, a truly unique personal human being.”¹⁰ He also said “Above all, any existential revolution should provide hope of a moral reconstitution of society, which means a radical renewal of the relationship of human beings to what I have called the ‘human order,’ which no political order can replace. A new experience of being, a renewed rootedness in the universe, a newly grasped sense of ‘higher responsibility,’ a new-found inner relationship to other people and to the human community—these factors clearly indicate the direction in which we must go.”¹¹ When you purchase electronic devices or machines, you will find a sheet of instructions on how to use it. If the purchased product does not work properly, as a non-manufacturer you are advised to take some self-care measures. And if it does not work, the instruction warns you not to open the product, but contact the place of purchase or manufacturer for advice. When creatures in the crisis of a break down such as the one we face today in relation to ecological catastrophe, we need to turn to God, the Creator, who created the cosmos in God’s eco logos(ecology) to ask for advice for fixing the human-made disorder. Partial repair could be done by human beings, but for the whole restoration we may return to the Creator. Here comes the role of spirituality. Spirituality is an holistic intelligence of human beings to understand the organic connectivity of cosmos. 43


“Is Globalisation about ‘the

eradication of world poverTy,’ or is it a mutant variety of colonialism, remote controlled and digitally operated?

- Arundhati roy

17 October | International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 44 INSiGHT OCTOBER 2021

1 September to 4 October Season of Creation

We have inherited a garden: we must not leave a desert to our children. ~ Joint appeal from religious leaders who gathered in the Vatican on 4 October, ahead of the COP climate summit 45


I raise up my voice - not so that i can shout, but so that those withouT a voice can be heard... we cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. ~ Malala Yousafzai 47


8 Minutes and 46 Seconds: The Killing of George Floyd

Born into Brothels The documentary was intended to be about the women who sell themselves to eke out a living but as the photographer befriended the children born to them, she offered to teach them the skill at photography in exchange of seeing the lives and experiences of these children through their own lenses and images captured within their environments. Many of these children were able to get educated at institutions rather than falling into the poverty trap.

In less than 10 minutes, a life of a man was abruptly and unjustly taken away due to the brutality shown my enforcement officers towards a racial minority in America. The appalling and unjustifiable manner of how another man’s life is taken so lightly with disregard and dominance by the police, erupted in movements calling for change, action, and justice for George Floyd, and thus resulting in the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan The blatant exploitation of young boys trapped in the unending predicament of war, poverty, disease and oppressive traditions - where children at the tender age from 11 and above are lured by the promise of a better life, only to be plunged into a dark abyss of sexual objectification and abuse, all in the name of entertainment. . A journalist made it a mission to uncover the truths, only to find out that the very people who are supposed to prevent this are also partaking in it.

The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire From an imperial master that has colonised civilisations from the farthest reaches from Britain’s shores, to a global financial powerhouse today, it’s apparent that even as a failing empire, Britain found an applicable formula which turned the tide and allowed it to thrive economically as a world leader.

Dominion Humankind’s need for continual sustenance and unbroken food source results in the exertion of brutality and complete dominance over creatures that we’ve domesticated for food. Through mass farming and other unethical, inhumane and outrightly cruel practices, we disregard the living conditions of these animals which caters to our insatiable hunger for animal proteins, and further exploiting them for sport, entertainment and fashion.


God Grew Tired of Us

Food Choices

The documentary follows 3 Southern Sudanese young men who are trying to escape their war-torn country by walking thousands of miles in search for safety. While countless have fallen to the adversities faced in the arduous journey for salvation, the boys never looked back in hope that they could find a safe place where they can finally call home and at the same time, reach out and help those who have been left behind.

Have we ever considered if what we put on our plates everyday are really the best options for us? Is the food pyramid that we are inculcated with accurate and necessary as a guideline for humans to adhere with? What if we found out that our food consumption behaviours are skewed and such misconceptions would do us more harm than good towards our overall health and well-being? Are we prepared and ready to take the truth? Would we choose to change?

India’s Daughter Gender inequality in India’s patriarchal society places women inferior to their male counterparts as they are expected to behave, dress and abide to the rules, spoken and unspoken, by the male dominated views in society. A young woman’s life was lost due to that, as she was ruthlessly beaten, abused, raped and left for dead on the side of a busy road – simply because it was deemed audacious of her to be outside during hours considered late for womenfolk.

Is Britain Racist?

Death by China

Are Britons in the denial of how they treat the minority races in their communities? Well over three quarters of those interviewed had claimed that they do not hold racially prejudiced views but does that really speak the truth of the actual situation? To find out, three reporters went on the streets of Britain to uncover the uncomfortable and ugly truths of racial prejudice the is rife in the English society, whether they choose to identify it or not.

With the world’s largest population teeming behind its production lines, China’s soaring economy is fuelled and propelled beyond control as the world is flooded with the plethora of product offerings at unimaginable rates that are much faster and way cheaper than the rest of the world – disrupting industries, and the very existence and livelihoods of those who are dependent on those very jobs robbed off them. 49



Losing Ground Reading Ruth in the Pacific

Losing Ground: Reading Ruth in the Pacific by Jione Havea The Ruth narrative opens with a climate crisis – a famine pushed a family to migrate – and addresses some of the critical concerns for refugees: food, security, home, land, inheritance. Around those concerns, Losing Ground: Reading Ruth in the Pacific offers a collection of bible studies from the Pacific that interweave the climate pandemic with the interests and wisdoms of Pasifika natives. Weaving Ruth's story together with the stories of those who, as Pacific islanders on the frontline of a climate catastrophe, are forced to leave their homes because of rising sea levels, Pasifika bible scholar Jione Havea offers a powerful and potent contribution which refuses to pretend scripture can be read separately from the every day realities of a climate emergency. Author’s bio Jione Havea is a Methodist pastor from Tonga and research fellow with Trinity Methodist Theological College (Aotearoa / New Zealand) and with the Public and Contextual Theology research centre of Charles Sturt University (Australia). He is the author of numerous books, most recently Scripture and Resistance (Theology in the Age of Empire). Visit for more information.


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