INSiGHT - February 2022

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February 2022

June 2019 | 8

February 2022

CONTENTS FOREWORD Journey Ahead 02 ATheLong Mission of God in the

World of Prolonged Pandemic

AT A GLANCE General Secretary’s 04 CWM Message of Solidarity to


building Life Flourishing Communities

the Tongan People

An Urgent Call for Prayers and Solidarity for the People in Myanmar

for Partners 36 Prayer in Mission “Connected”

of Mission Today”

Congregational Union 09 Guyana renovates and dedicates Quamina House Complex CWM Welcomes the New Year with Staff Holy Communion Service

12 Member Church News Church Feature on 16 Member The Hong Kong Council of the

Church of Christ in China (HKCCCC)


20 Dementia-embracing Churches without Understanding? 22 Veneration A Reflection on the Death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu

TIM40 VOICES in Mission 24 Training Twenty-five years On 26 Out of the Belly of the Whale 28 In the Image of God 31 Taste of Heaven


from the Moderator 33 Greetings to Partners-in-Mission to Life 34 Rise Partnering with God in our Newest 34 Introducing Partner in Mission -

Speech on 08 Keynote “Ecumenical Perspective



Rev Nigel Lindsay


38 Empire 2.0 42 SEEN & HEARD



A LONG JOURNEY AHEAD The Mission of God in the World of Prolonged Pandemic


he COVID-19 has spread rapidly across the globe. As it spread, it also carried the suffering and despair, endangering the vulnerable populations and destroying the economies. As it spread, it also has created a thick wall of separation between rich and poor, strong and vulnerable, haves and have-nots, and fit and unfit. While lockdowns have become a luxury for some, they have created prisons for others. While some countries have way too many extra vaccines to vaccinate their populations with multiple booster doses, the other countries have no vaccines to vaccinate their populations with even a single dose. The pandemic has undoubtedly exposed two worlds: Rich and Poor.

In the midst of this ‘COVID Decade,’ it is fitting that we, the CWM Community, have set our vision to “Rise to Life.” As the pandemic continues to threaten our lives, we will continue to rise to life, transforming our communities, threatened by the forces of death, into life-flourishing communities that embody justice, love, and peace.

Despite there being a glimmering hope due to the gradual end of lockdowns, availability of vaccines in some countries, and easing of travel restrictions, there is a long way for society to come back to normalcy. The COVID-19 is not merely a health crisis in the world. It is a social, political, economic, and cultural crisis that will last longer than expected. A recent report published by the British Academy rightly acknowledged, “We are in a COVID decade: the social, economic and cultural effects of the pandemic will cast a long shadow into the future – perhaps longer than a decade – and the sooner we begin to understand, the better placed we will be to address them.”

Participation in the mission of God in this world of the pandemic requires us to break down the walls of separation that make people vulnerable, resist the oppressive structures that exploit and enslave, and destroy the life-threatening forces that obstruct the flourishing of life. The TTL states, “It, therefore, requires a commitment to struggle against and resist the powers that obstruct the fullness of life that God wills for all, and a willingness to work with all people involved in movements and initiatives committed to the causes of justice, dignity, and life.”

Therefore, as a faith-driven community, we must prepare for such a long journey of prolonged pandemic impacts with resilience resisting the new forms of life-threatening forces driven by greed and self-centeredness like vaccine discriminations, digital divide, and rapid spread of misinformation. These forces of evil that are spreading in the guise of the pandemic, together with already existing social, political and religious inequalities, are not only dividing the communities but also dehumanising large sections of people.

We believe that God stands with the poor and oppressed. God requires us to administer true justice and show mercy and compassion (Zech. 7:9). We are called to embody the mission of God to proclaim good news to the poor and freedom for the oppressed (Luke 4:18-19).

Such a mission is costly and calls us to follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, who resisted the life-threatening forces and gave his life. It calls us out from the centre and places us at the margins. It demands us to give up our worldly privileges and face hostility. However, the Cross of Christ continues to give us hope as the Holy Spirit accompanies us and gives us courage in our journey towards life. As we continue to strive and wait for the end of this prolonged Covid-19 pandemic, may the Lord bless us with hope and strength to break the walls of separation to reach out to the vulnerable and foster communities of life. Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum General Secretary Council for World Mission


CWM 2022 World Day of Prayer In Solidarity with Myanmar on 4th March 2022 (Friday) @18:00pm (SGT) To all Member Churches of CWM, Warm greetings to you from the Council for World Mission. The CWM East Asia Region has been tasked to extend this invitation to all Member Churches of CWM to join us at CWM 2022 World Day of Prayer: In Solidarity with Myanmar which is scheduled to be held on 4th of March 2022 (Friday) at 18:00pm (Singapore time) over Zoom. It is our hope that through this global prayer meeting, churches are called to pray and stand in solidarity with the people in Myanmar, particularly our siblings in the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar during this painful and difficult time of military coup and COVID-19 pandemic.

Zoom link Meeting ID: 880 5583 1175 Passcode: CWMEAR

The global day of prayer will have the CWM General Secretary, Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum deliver Words of Welcome, and CWM Moderator Rev. Lydia Neshangwe conclude the prayer service with Benediction. We welcome participants to pray in their own native language, mutually affirming the gift of diversity as siblings in the CWM family. This invitation is open to all local congregations and your network of friends and ecumenical partners. May the words of the Apostle Paul be our guide: "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." (Romans 12:15) Thank you for your support and leadership.


CWM General Secretary’s Message of Solidarity to the Tongan People Council for World Mission (CWM) General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum delivered a message of solidarity to the people of Tonga during an online prayer vigil organised by CWM Pacific Region on 28 January.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, I bring you greetings of peace in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! It is with great concern we received the news, through our CWM Pacific regional desk and various news outlets, about the Tonga volcano eruption. The damage that the eruption has caused is enormous, and I am deeply troubled to see such destruction. Even though we live very far away from the pacific region, we feel the pain and agony you have been going through based on the news we receive from our Pacific member churches. However, the creation, too, has been groaning because of its destruction. It is not only the volcanic eruption, but the Pacific region has been facing a huge threat from the rising of sea levels, causing great damage to the ecological integrity. It is time to take the issue seriously. Creation is at the heart of Mission. Humanity is responsible to care for the integrity of creation. Excessive greed and unlimited consumption, which lead to the continuous destruction of nature, must end. Therefore, ecological justice is the most urgent mission today. That’s why, the new CWM strategy framework calls upon the CWM member churches to participate in mission of life-flourishing creation. The ecological integrity and climate justice are a matter of our “Faith in God.” Humanity cannot be saved alone while the rest of the created world perishes. Eco-justice cannot be separated from salvation, and salvation cannot come without a new humility that respects the needs of all life on earth. The destruction caused by the volcanic eruption can be a huge challenge for the Tongan churches and people to restore to normal conditions. While I heartfully appreciate you for your resilience and hope, I also would like to assure you that the CWM will stand in solidarity with all the people affected and be an active partner assisting you in the process of restoration.

Psalm 46:1-3 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”


May the God of refuge and strength be with you as an ever-present help in this time of grief and sorrow. May God comfort and healing be with you, comfort your hearts, and heal your souls. May God restoration and life be with you and give you strength in your works of rebuilding the destroyed places. As I close, I would like to thank our Pacific office team, Rev. Niko, Mrs Fuata, and the CWM Comms team for their hard work and coordination in organising this prayer meeting. Thank you all for joining us as we pray to God for help. I would also like to thank all those joining their hands and efforts to supply basic essentials and aid, especially our member churches like the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ). It is my prayer and hope that in the midst of despair and grief, you will be able to find peace and joy. GOD BLESS YOU! 05

An Urgent Call for Prayers and Solidarity

for the People in Myanmar

The General Secretary of the CWM, Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, expressed his grave concern about the ongoing military coup in Myanmar and called out the member churches of the CWM to pray for the people in Myanmar as they suffer from both military coup and COVID-19 pandemic.

The ongoing peaceful protests are often resulting in bloodshed as the military continues to lay its iron fist on the protestors and resort to extreme actions to suppress the resistance. The crackdowns are turning to be more violent, involving open firing and bombing on the peaceful protestors for democracy. In one of such recent incidents of bombing on the civilians in the Tahan region where our member Church, the Presbyterian Church in Myanmar (PCM), is located, many people were killed, many people are fleeing to neighbouring countries, and others hiding themselves being displaced from their homes and villages in their own country. Many displaced people are seeking shelter, and as a result, the PCM is tasked with providing food, shelter, and protection to those people in the midst of the humanitarian crisis they are facing. The situation is deteriorating day by day as more people are fleeing and hiding in unsafe places, being displaced from their homes and villages in their own country, fearing a ruthless military crackdown. The Covid-19 pandemic further worsens this already devastating situation. People’s lives are threatened. They are being deprived of safety, vaccines, medical supplies, oxygen cylinders, and other basic essentials under the coup and Covid-19 Pandemic. It is in this time of Crisis again, that the CWM calls upon all our member churches to come forward to help our brothers and sisters in Myanmar. The CWM is making arrangements to send another Solidarity and Action Grant despite the difficulties in sending support. The member churches can contact the CWM East Asia Region office for more details on how they can send their support. While we carry on our efforts to help, let us continue to uphold them in our prayers that the God of salvation may deliver all the people of Myanmar from the ongoing military coup and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.” – Psalm 107:6 06 INSiGHT FEBRUARY 2022

Anti-coup protesters take cover at a barricade as they clash with security forces on Bayint Naung Bridge in Mayangone, Yangon, Myanmar March 16, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer

PRAYER God of life, we plead you to grant your grace and protection for the people of Myanmar. Hear the appeals of those who strive for democracy and remember the efforts of those seeking peace in Myanmar, even at the expense of their lives. God of justice, we plead you to reveal that no one can suppress justice by might or power. Hear the appeals of those who cry out for justice and peace, and remember the plight of the persecuted, the broken, and those who become displaced and imprisoned in their own land. God of hope, we plead you to restore true nationhood and security in the land of Myanmar. Hear the appeals of those desperately trying to help the country survive in a hostile situation and that there will be a speedy and peaceful resolution to this impasse. God of peace, we plead you to remember the well-being of every individual in Myanmar. Hear the appeals of those who are unwell and sick during this painful moment and grant your healing grace through uninterrupted medical services and restrain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in this land. God of PCM, we plead to you to watch over our sisters and brothers as they meet at each regional synod gathering and at the upcoming General Assembly in February. Grant them stable and effective internet connection and safety for those who need to travel for meetings in the midst of civil unrest and armed conflict. May PCM be your channel of blessing to assist and support the displaced people across the country. In Jesus’s Name… AMEN 07

Keynote speech on “Ecumenical Perspective of Mission Today” a highlight at CWM’s First All-Staff Meeting of the Year M

etropolitan Dr Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, the Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church, Moderator of Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) of the World Council of Churches and president of the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) and a global leader in the ecumenical movement in various capacities, gave a keynote speech on “Ecumenical Perspective of Mission Today” during Council for World Mission (CWM)’s first All-Staff Meeting of the year on 13 January 4:00 P.M Singapore Time. As part of CWM staff development plan, the General Secretary, Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum introduced a bi-monthly All-Staff meeting to equip the staff with various elements including providing them missional reflections by prominent global missiologists and professional training sessions on various skills. In this meeting the global staff of CWM were edified in his lecture by Metropolitan Dr Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, a renowned missiologist. The Bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India underscored two main points – subverting the colonial, imperialistic model of mission, and reimagining mission of God as missio agape (Mission as love).

“Mission is to turn to God, and to turn to God is to turn to the world.” -David Bosch

Firstly, the essence of transforming discipleship is to turn to God. In that process, we turn to the world, to which God has turned in Christ, with the intention of transforming the world by “turning it upside down”. In Acts 17:8-9, Paul and Silas were disciples who were branded as subversive, or rebels. Being a disciple during that time meant to be revolutionary, and their announcing a king of different dispensations was blasphemous to ‘empire’ during that time. Raising contemporary forms of ‘empire’ – capitalism, xenophobia, militarism, and technological absolutism, Metropolitan Dr Geevarghese Mor Coorilos equated transforming


Image courtesy of Dr Geevarghese Mor Coorilos Facebook Page.

discipleship to confronting and resisting modern empire and its logic and practice. In suggesting a radical paradigm shift in doing mission, he highlighted how “mission from the margins” meant the margins – the oppressed, the Global South and so on – leading mission, rather than “leading mission from the centre”. Mission from the margins is about the ones and zeroes of the world – the last, least and lostcoming together in solidarity, affirming the world of its value, and leading the discipleship journey from the front, he explained.

“Missio dei must be understood as missio agape” In today’s context where the ideology of fear of and hatred towards the ‘other’ is manifested in racism, sexism, exclusivism, fascism, and stigmatisation of people, mission as transforming discipleship has to be understood as “mission of love”, or missio agape. When Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment in John 13:34-35, he said that everyone will know that they are his disciples if they love one another. The Bishop closed his impactful sermon by sharing about how Mary, a daily wage labourer in India, gave half of all the money she had in response to the appeal for food supplies in the wake of the Kerala floods. She gave not out of abundance, but out of poverty, half of all she had, and this was an example of “spirituality of the poor”, mission from the margins, missio agape, and transforming discipleship. Following the lecture, it was announced that Mr. Charlie Yee, who has served as Accountant in CWM’s U.K Office for 20 years, has been promoted to the position of Finance Manager. The meeting officially came to a close after Rev Nikotemo Sopepa, Mission Secretary to Pacific prayed for all to “seek blessing and guidance as we prepare for wonderful possibilities of service and total surrender to God”.

Guyana Congregational Union (GCU) renovates and dedicates Quamina House Complex as GCU’s mission outreach centre By Rev. Keith Haley, GCU General Secretary


oming out of mission consultations regarding the need for Guyana Congregational Union (GCU) to transition from engaging ministry in maintenance mode to ‘missional congregations,’ it was clear that the condition of the building (Quamina House) which was home to the church’s headquarters was unsuitable for supporting the mission work of the church. It was recommended that an upper floor should be constructed on the Clarkson Congregational Church building – which is on the same property as Quamina House – and the secretariat be relocated there. Through the CWM Mission Support Programmme (MSP 2) grant, the construction of the upper floor, renovation and repair of the church building and renovation to Quamina House commenced on March 04, 2021. The Clarkson Congregational Church building is now transformed into the GCU secretariat on the upper floor and the sanctuary on the ground floor. Quamina House will now be utilised as the GCU’s mission outreach centre.

The newly refurbished Quamina House Complex was dedicated for use to the Glory of God, in a Worship Service held on Tuesday, December 07, 2021. Mrs. Jennifer Martin, Education In Mission Secretary, represented the Caribbean and North America Council for Mission (CANACOM); the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI) was represented by Rev. Norbert Stephens, General Secretary. Rev. Dr. Jooseop Keum, General Secretary, brought Greetings on behalf of the Council for World Mission (CWM) – pre-recorded. The pre-recorded Sermon was delivered by Rev. Dr. Michael Jagessar, Mission Secretary (Europe and Caribbean Regions). Guyana Congregational Union gives God thanks for all His gracious mercies, as we express sincere gratitude to everyone who played a role in the execution of the project and to the Council for World Mission for providing the funding to make it a reality. GCU commits to using these facilities to advance God’s work of satisfying the needs of the people He brings into our daily path, through faithful and committed service in mission.

“In as much as you have cared for the least of these My brethren, you have cared for Me,” St. Matthew 25:40. 09

CWM Welcomes the New Year with Staff Holy Communion Service “The Holy Seed of Remnants” C

ouncil for World Mission (CWM) held its New Year Worship Service with Holy Communion during the staff devotion on 10 January 2022 at 5:00 PM Singapore Time, attended virtually by CWM global staff from various regions. The General Secretary, Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, delivered the sermon, followed by the Holy communion service led by Rev. Julie Sim, Mission Secretary to East and South Asia. The staff members brought their own communion elements signifying cultural diversity and participated in the communion remembering Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection as a sign of hope in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. During his sermon titled “The Holy Seed of Remnants”, the General Secretary spoke about three theological terms: “remnant”, “revival”, and “renewal”. The term “remnants” echoes the biblical reference to Israelites who remained faithful to their covenant with God in Babylon, during a time when Israel and Judah remained divided kingdoms enslaved by foreign powers. Speaking from Isaiah 6:8-13, he said, “Even when the world is like a “cut-down tree” and there seems to be no hope, God still preserves “the remnants” as “the stump” and “the holy seed” in order to work through them. The second term, “Revival”, refers to Isaiah’s promise that the remnants would return to Jerusalem for a God-given purpose after their Babylonian exile, where they will truly rely on the Lord, and not on secular power – a promise made concrete in the restoration of the Temple.


While the temple’s reconstruction symbolised the “revival” of faith in Yahweh, the remnant community of Israel had to undergo “Renewal”, or social transformation, to establish a fair and just society. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, mission works are like the ‘cut-down trees,’ with their activities curtailed. Dr Keum emphasised Isaiah’s promise that God still preserves “The Holy Seed of the Remnants” for the renewal and revival of the inhabited earth and asked, “Who shall be the remnants for God’s mission?” In a world where accumulation of power and wealth and survival of the fittest is the norm, God chooses the poor, foolish and powerless (1 Corinthians 1:18-31) to further His mission of justice and peace so that life may flourish. Believing that God has chosen CWM as the holy seed of remnants, Dr Keum called the staff members to be the ‘transforming disciples’ who constantly open to being transformed, individually and communally, into people who reflect the Lord Jesus in their words, actions, and attitudes. He highlighted that in our discipleship journey, “we are privileged to join in the mission of the Triune God, working together towards life, living out the values of the Kingdom of God, and engaging in mission from the margins.” Dr Keum had also emphasized vulnerability in mission, a concept which requires us to confront with every theology and mission strategy that glorifies money, power, success and greed, and to find practical ways to live as one Body of Christ, knowing that God opposes the proud, welcomes and empowers the poor and afflicted, through the power of the Holy Spirit manifested in our vulnerabilities. Finally, Rev. Dr Keum exhorted the staff, as transforming disciples, to proclaim the hope and joy that God is creating from the margins. As he closed, he reminded, “In the midst of agonies, despair, and cries of life in this pandemic-stricken world, it is our mission to seek alternative values, ways of life, and communities to reveal the shalom in God’s kingdom on earth by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The sermon was followed by intercessions and the Holy Communion before the worship service was closed by General Secretary’s benediction. 11

AT A GLANCE | MEMBER CHURCH NEWS AFRICA Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) Moderator’s letter on the passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu The Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) Moderator Right Rev. Sipho J Mtetwa, was among those who paid tribute to the late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Prize Laureate for his anti-apartheid work in South Africa. In the UPCSA Moderator’s statement, he saluted Archbishop Tutu as a “courageous and fearless leader of the laos (people) in South Africa and the globe, who fought fiercely and relentlessly against apartheid as though each day was his last on earth”.

Image by Peter Williams, WCC.

An epitome of what it meant to “act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8), Rt Rev. Mtetwa said that the late Archbishop stood for justice, peace and reconciliation for the “rainbow nation” of South Africa and the world. “We celebrate his life of integrity and ethical leadership within the Anglican Church, within 12 INSiGHT FEBRUARY 2022

the ecumenical movement in South Africa and beyond, and within the international community of Christian leaders the world over,” he added.

effectively”, said Rev. Bishop Sydney Sichilima.

Investment policy and tree-planting initiative covered in United Church of Zambia (UCZ) Synod Bishop’s Message Image by UCZ

Rev Sydney Sichilima, United Church Of Zambia Synod Bishop Image by UCZ

The United Church of Zambia (UCZ) has “adopted the missional approach by placing emphasis on congregations where mission takes place and the higher courts be merely coordinating bodies”, said the UCZ Synod Bishop in his Advent Message last December. Rev. Bishop Sydney Sichilima was updating the church about an investment policy crafted to avoid the situation of the Church being fully dependent on church members’ financial offerings. With the COVID-19 pandemic upending traditional ways of doing church and mission, “the idea is that at every court of the Church, different fundraising activities should take place in order to make the church financially sound to carry out mission

Having witnessed floods and droughts that adversely affected food security in Zambia, the church leaders had also agreed to a prior plan to plant trees in mission stations to do their part in mitigating the effects of climate change and deforestation. He called on church members to “exercise prudent stewardship by caring for nature”, and to avoid activities damaging to the environment.

SOUTH ASIA Identify people and concerns that have been overlooked, says Church of South India (CSI) General Secretary in Christmas Message Church of South India (CSI)’s General Secretary, Rev. C. Fernandas Rathina Raja has encouraged church members to identify people and genuine concerns that have been overlooked, so as to take steps to find out or

redeem what has been lost, during the Christmas season.

Image by CSI Life.

Citing the example of the Shepherd in the parable of the lost sheep who took risks and strenuous efforts to make his flock whole, the CSI General Secretary urged church members to identify themselves with the lost, suffering, oppressed, abandoned and neglected just like Jesus did. When Christians surrender to God and are willing to be used by Him to reach out to those who are socially, economically and spiritually left alone even if this results in criticism or our suffering, the church can then remain whole, he said.

Medical camps in Rayalaseema Diocese, Coimbatore Diocese, and Trichy-Tanjore Diocese CSI Christ Church, Tarigonda, Gurramgonda Mission organised a Community Medical Camp, assisted by Mary Lott Lyles Hospital (MLLH), Madanapalle in CSI Rayalaseema Diocese last

August. This was based on their new missional engagement as part of active accompaniment through grassroots outreach efforts. Similarly, medical checkups, diagnoses, awareness education were provided by CSI Trichy-Tanjore Diocese at Karatupathi Village near Amaravathy Dam, Udumalaipettai and by CSI Coimbatore Diocese for the village people in Kolli Hills last September.

PACIFIC Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) collaborates with partner churches to offer support after Tonga’s volcanic eruption

Rev Sydney Sichilima, United Church Of Zambia Synod Bishop Image by UCZ

Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) has expressed “deep concern” and “its heartfelt prayers” for the people of Tonga following the eruption of a massive underwater volcano on Saturday, which triggered tsunami waves around the Pacific. In a statement released on 18 January, PCANZ said that it is working collaboratively with Christian World Service and partner churches in New

Zealand to assist Tongans in practical ways by providing food, water, and other necessities. Further information about an appeal will soon be available.

Pacific Islands Churches continue to voice prayers of support and care for Tongans Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) General Secretary Rev. James Bhagwan has called for prayer for Tonga and “our Pacific household of God in these challenging times of activity in the Pacific Ring of Fire, cyclone season, COVID-19, all continuing to be exacerbated by climate change”. This came as the situation in Tonga after the volcanic eruption was initially unclear since “most outside communication was disrupted and only satellite phone is accessible to a few”. Fiji and many other Pacific islands and Pacific Rim countries were affected by the tsunami and tidal surges that followed the eruption.

See Jesus’ coming in this unsettled, COVID-riven Christmas time as a divine signpost, says PCANZ Moderator In the PCANZ Moderator Rt Rev. Hamish Galloway’s Christmas Message, he 13

wrote about what Bible scholar NT Wright identified as “signposts” to life such as justice, love, beauty and freedom, which are broken by our personal, collective and global failures. This contributes to the sense we have of life not being as we know it should be. Wright goes on to show that the coming of Jesus depicts “how God is putting things right again, and how we can be part of this restoration”.

Image by Peter Williams, WCC.

The PCANZ Moderator concluded with the encouraging question: “Could we see the coming of Jesus in this unsettled, COVID-riven Christmas time as a huge signpost in divine lettering? A majestic sign that … God has arrived on planet earth Fixing broken signposts

EUROPE Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN)’s initiatives for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Image by PKN

On the eve of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from 18-25 January, the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) organised a national prayer programme to gather pastors of churches around Netherlands to pray for issues arising from the pandemic and the polarisation it is causing in families, faith communities and society. Having received prayer pointers from partner organisations and churches which offer help to those suffering from violence, injustice and oppression, PKN will publish a new prayer written by pastors each day.

Pointing the way


PKN’s Easter outreach campaign to those imprisoned Every year, prisoners in the Netherlands and Dutch people imprisoned abroad are sent an encouraging Easter greeting card, as part of PKN’s Easter greetings campaign. During Lent, PKN and Kerk in Actie organise for tens of thousands of Easter cards to be bought, written, and sent to prisons by municipalities. This year’s theme is “Your light heals what is broken”.

Image by PKN

Calling us to join in”. Read Rt Rev. Hamish Galloway’s full letter at wp-content/uploads/2021/1 2/PCANZ-Moderators-2021Christmas-message.pdf

joy in Matthew 2:2 “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him. The Magi have sometimes been seen as a symbol of the world’s diversity – different religions and cultures – that comes to pay homage to the Christ-child, and the resources affirm “a light to lead the way to the Saviour who is the light that overcomes darkness”.

Image by PKN

This year’s materials are prepared by the MECC - The Middle East Council of Churches, on the hope and

Gerry van Wijngaarden, who coordinates the campaign, shared a prisoner’s perspective of it being “a little compassion, a handful of love”, especially since it’s one of the few connections they have with the outside world. With the Easter greeting card, inmates

receive an extra card with a stamp that they can use to send mail to their family.

Easter greetings for prisoners. Image by PKN

For more information, please visit ieuws/paasgroetenactie-stu ur-gedetineerden-een-bemo edigende-groet-met-pasen/?

Union of Welsh Independents (UWI) General Secretary’s New Year’s Message

UWI General Secretary Rev Dyfrig Rees. Image by UWI

The last two years was the first time in the Union of Welsh Independents (UWI)’s history with chapels closed for extended periods of time, breaking the link between buildings and their congregations, said the UWI General Secretary Rev. Dyfrig Rees in his New Year’s Message. However, the way ministers and congregations rose to the challenge to use virtual means to hold services

“created a new dynamic and re-energised churches”. For example, a pre-recorded Welsh language church service attracted higher viewership, even after pandemic restrictions eased. In Rev. Rees’ message, he also repeated the invitation to tap into the Innovation and Investment Fund, reminding them that the church is a body of believers, not merely a building. While developing a stronger online presence, it enables congregations to explore innovative ways to extend the use of their buildings in the community. He expressed his belief that for some churches, 2022 heralds the start of a new era of embracing a new, exciting approach to practising Christian faith amongst the congregation and in the community. Read the full message at eneral-secretarys-new-years -message/

United Reformed Church (URC) shares government resource on safety guidance for religious buildings

Infrastructure. The resource focuses on two main areas of security-minded communications – ensuring those with malicious intent are not unintentionally given useful information, and showing how to use communications to deter these individuals.

A photograph of Conservative British lawmaker David Amess, who was fatally stabbed, is pictured prior to a service at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, a district of Southend-on-Sea, in southeast England on October 15, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

It contains practical advice such as using community bulletin boards to display posters promoting community vigilance, being ambiguous about when the venue is being occupied, and avoiding posting images that the extent of your security features. Download the resource at: wp-content/uploads/2021/1 2/Security-guidance-for-chur ch-buildings.pdf

After the fatal stabbing of MP Sir David Amess in a Methodist Church building, the United Reformed Church (URC) has shared a resource on safety guidance for religious buildings from the government’s Centre for the Protection of National 15


Hong Kong Council of The Church of Christ in China (HKCCCC) The Hong Kong Council of The Church of Christ in China (HKCCCC) is one of the founding members of CWM in 1977 as well as presently the only member church of CWM in Hong Kong. A Centennial Movement of Church Unity Background In the 19th and early 20th Century, China was suffering from Imperialism and Colonialism, particularly that from the West. Christianity was accused of being an instrument of this Imperialism and Colonialism. Church leaders in China jointly advocated the movements of unity, indigenisation, and Three-Self: Self-Governing, Self-Supporting and Self-Propagating. In 1918 in Nanjing, China, The Presbyterian Church in China invited representatives from The Congregational Church and London Missionary Society (LMS) to discuss the agenda of unity. In 10-14 January 1919, delegates from The Presbyterian Church, The Congregational Church and LMS with the representatives from the British Baptist Church and the Quakers met in Nanjing to discuss the draft of a United Christian Church in China. In 1927, the First Assembly of The Church of Christ in China was officially convened. Structure of The Church of Christ in China National Assembly, Provincial Synods, District Councils, Local Churches. Founding Churches of The Church of Christ in China (CCC) The Presbyterians, The Congregationalists, LMS, The British Baptist, The United Brethren, The Swedish Missions, The Berliner Missions. Establishment of the HKCCCC 1949 The People’s Republic of China was founded. 1950 Missionaries were forced to leave China. 1954 CCC local churches in Hong Kong had to separate from the Guongdong Synod. Hence the Hong Kong Council of The Church of Christ in China (HKCCCC) registered as an independent Church body in Hong Kong. Since Hong Kong is a city, the churches of CCC in Hong Kong and Macau comprised as the church body known as Hong Kong Council. Confession of Faith and Principles of Union of HKCCCC The Doctrinal Basis 1) In our faith in Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and Lord whom the Christian Church is founded, and an earnest desire for the establishment of His Kingdom throughout the whole earth; 2) In our acceptance of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the divinely inspired word of God and the supreme authority in matters of faith and duty; 3) In our acknowledgement of the Apostles’ Creed as expressing the fundamental doctrines of our common evangelical faith, which faith has been the heritage and strength of the Christian Church through all its history.


Principles of Union of HKCCCC 1) Support the Unity Movement 2) Emphasize on Democratic Participation 3) Advance Three Self Principles 4) Believe in Equal Rights of Genders 5) Practice the Principles of “Mutual Respect, Trust and Sharing”. Membership of HKCCCC In 2016 HKCCCC has a total baptised membership of 36,000, 74 local churches, over 38,000 students enrolled in 80 schools and 10 several service units serving around 100,000 people per year. Principles of Mission Strategy 1) Following the mission statement of Jesus Christ: Preach the good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, recover of sight to the blind, set at liberty those who are oppressed and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord 2) Serving God and serving the people: sharing God’s love to the communities in Hong Kong and Mainland China 3) Doing God’s mission in partnership with others 4) Equipping every local church to be a missional congregation. New Initiatives in Capacity Development and Mission Programme Capacity Development Building Life-Affirming Communities (since 2014) As of 2017, there are 80 schools under HKCCCC with over 38,000 students enrolled. Under the education vision:「Together we nurture fullness of life, hand in hand we witness the love of Christ」, HKCCCC has been given the task of addressing these community issues by serving through their schools at least 40,000 families. Through the ministry for Building Life-Affirming Communities, people could receive the promise of the fullness of life from God. There are 22 HKCCCC churches which have been carrying out the project on the campuses of 12 secondary schools and 10 primary schools respectively. In order to implement the ministry of the project, ministers and members of the churches have to be trained by taking courses and attending seminars. Up to 2016, there have been 61 pastors trained and 22 teams are now serving on the campuses. Ministers and church members involved in the project are the trained persons and being equipped to be facilitators. 17

The knowledge and skills they attained enabled them to serve the students, parents and teachers. The experiences they gained on the campus broaden their scope of ministries and nurture other members into joining the project. The reflections they consolidated in the project implementation facilitate the whole Church to address the needs of the community. The testimony of a high school student “She accompanied me through a time of challenge” “Five years ago I joined this school as a secondary 1 student, and the day came where my public examination results would determine whether I could continue my senior secondary study in this school. I hoped I could because I loved this school. I remember that the class was silent waiting for the announcement of results. “This year, we have 30 students who are qualified to continue their senior secondary study.” The vice-principal announces, “And the names are….” Ms Chou, my class teacher who has been my teacher for the last 5 years, was sitting with me. When names were called out except for mine, I became anxious and worried. Finally I was disappointed because I was not one of the 30. Tears were coming out from my eyes. I was lost. Ms Chou was with me holding my hands to comfort me. “Why don’t you try to apply for a waiting list place and request for an interview?” Ms Chou encouraged me. With this encouragement I submitted an application for an interview. Ms Chou accompanied me while I am waiting for a chance of an interview. During the time of waiting, I recalled my memories of the last 5 years of school time. Ms Chou had been taking care of my studies, my family problems and my personal growth. She is my spiritual mother in nurturing me to become a good Christian. Thank God for giving me such a good guardian.” (Finally this female student was admitted to continue her senior secondary study.)


MSP4 A Compassionate Church for Others (2017-2020) The Programme for MSP4 is an initiative which in the long-term will be a permanent strategy to enable all HKCCCC churches to become missional congregations. The Programme is to facilitate 18 churches to acknowledge this vision and mission to engage with the unreached communities and be inclusive to receive those who are marginalised. The following four groups are as targeted communities: 1) People with partial disabilities: deaf and dumb, physically or mentally disabled 2) Fisher families 3) Youth from the grassroots 4) Children from the underprivileged communities: new arrivals and single parent families. After this successive way of promoting A Compassionate Church for Others for three years, it is expected that the programme will have facilitated at least eighteen HKCCCC local churches and/or with schools to recognize their core mandate of mission as A Compassionate Church for Others. These eighteen churches will bring good news to the marginalised groups in their communities by proclamation and caring. It is expected that at least 500 families and 1,500 individuals will benefit in three years. The churches involved will continue to mobilise other HKCCCC churches to acknowledge the same vision on out-reach and be compassionate for others in order to facilitate the sustainability of this initiative. 19


Dementia-embracing Churches By Beti-Wyn James, Union of Welsh Independents (UWI)

Beti-Wyn James is a full time Minister in two UWI churches and one PCW church in Carmarthen town and Bancyfelin village, west Wales. She has served in these churches for 20 years, and previously in Tabernacl, UWI Church at Barry, south Wales. Beti-Wyn is currently the President of the UWI.


or all who believe, the fellowship and community of the Church is central. It is here that we are called to worship and to build a relationship with God and His people. The Bible uses many figures to describe this relationship. Israel is God’s son, his spouse, his vine, his flock, and many images in the New Testament e.g. Christ’s flock and branches of the true vine. Each member is introduced into a special relationship within the church family and as a result are blessed with love, friendship and support. But, sadly, most people with dementia seem to stop going to church. They feel easily feel uncomfortable, because their ability to process information is impaired. It’s just as sad when some people withdraw from visiting or spending time with dementia sufferers. I understand from experience in the ministry how difficult it can be to engage in conversation with dementia sufferers. Connecting with them can be quite a challenge. Does the church have something ‘extra’ to give in terms of communication? Believers are the most powerful means of communication imaginable, because we carry within us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate communicator. Visiting people with dementia and their families provides opportunities for nourishing love and relationship, and although dementia may have caused an inability to communicate, simply being alongside them, knowing that we are carrying the Holy Spirit within us. When we do this, we are connecting at an eternal level.


The ‘whole’ person There is a great need to encourage church communities to gain confidence to adapt to cater for dementia sufferers and their families. Churches have a specific and unique role to play i.e. encouraging identity of the ‘whole’ person which includes the spiritual and not only the physical. A positive attitude towards the condition needs to be adopted rather than being tentative and raising barriers. In a society where dementia awareness is on the forefront of conversation, churches need to be at the heart of dementia-friendly communities, where the voices of those living with dementia, and those who care for them, are clearly heard. I believe that “Dementia Friendly” is rather a weak description – Dementia-embracing Churches is a better description. Amongst the Church Bodies raising awareness of dementia are the Union of Welsh Independents who passed a proposal unanimously in its General Assembly in 2019 to

‘Encourage churches and associations to stimulate debate on the issue within the Union of Welsh Independent Churches and all other denominations’.

Amongst the practical issues under discussion is the importance of networking within a wider network of people, learning from others, organising a Memory Café, reaching out to dementia units in local Care Homes and providing opportunities to support carers. Although important, Dementia-embracing churches means far more than only taking practical steps. It also means encouraging identity of the ‘whole’ person which includes the spiritual and not only the physical. This is the “extra” that a church can provide compared with other organisations. It is our calling to provide a sense of purpose to the sufferer and to assure them, even though they might have forgotten, God will never forget them. Reassuring them of this truth though the act of worship – be it congregational worship, in a care home, dementia unit or in their own home.

Worship Developing dementia friendly worship is a current topic of conversation and many authors have shared their views e.g. the use of objects whilst leading worship in a dementia unit is appropriate as in a children’s service, but we are reminded that ‘the persons present are not children. Treating them as such would further diminish their sense of dignity.’ Taking from my own experience of leading worship with dementia sufferers I choose to keep the service simple, using familiar hymns and readings, short and meaningful prayers praying the Lord’s Prayer and using visual aids in a creative but respectful manner as a focus to the worship. Music is always a good option which often has a calming effect and sets the atmosphere for worship. Contributions by the younger generation (Sunday school or local school) are always acceptable. One thing that I’ve learnt is to always expect the unexpected! God’s voice is often heard through at the most unexpected of times and heard through the weakest and most fragile of vessels. Being a fluent Welsh speaker, a number of us felt the desire to campaign to ensure that worship is provided in Care Homes in the resident’s mother tongue. Many elderly sufferers will not have worshiped in any other language ever, and any hymns, readings and Lord’s Prayer etched on their memory will be in their mother tongue. Leading a service in a dementia unit or care home is different from incorporating dementia worship in to the normal Sunday services, but is not impossible with a little creativity and preparation beforehand. If we ignore their needs, worship relegates them to observers of entertainment or excludes them completely from the worshipping community. Worshipping with a dementia sufferer, requires much understanding, empathy, compassion and attentiveness on the part of the leaders – a challenge which we as churches are honoured to embrace. 21

Veneration without Understanding? A Reflection on the Death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu

By Hadje Cresencio Sadje, SOAS University of London Hadje Cresencio Sadje is an associate member of the SOAS Center for Palestine Studies, University of London, UK. Mr. Sadje obtained his MA in Crosscultural Theology at the Protestant Theological University, The Netherlands, and MA in Ecumenical Studies (specializing in Sociology of Religion) at the University of Bonn. He is a visiting Ph.D. research fellow at the University of Vienna, Austria, a student ambassador at the Paris Institute of Critical Thinking, and a visiting lecturer at the Divinity School Silliman University Philippines. Currently, he is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hamburg Germany and teaches at Barcelona Applied Social Sciences Spain and the Foundation Academy in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Mr. Sadje’s research interests include pentecostalism, decoloniality, sociology of religion, and political/public theologies.


his last year 2021, I have seen the world with great sadness on the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Archbishop Tutu is one of the great religious activists who devoted his entire life to dismantling the South African apartheid system. Many people believe that Archbishop Tutu’s public ministry is a moral compass, above all, a testament to the importance of convergence between the religious institution and the protest movement against white supremacy and settler colonialism in South Africa. They have admired Archbishop Tutu’s resolute and uncompromising commitment to non-violent protests and reconciliation as the way to eradicate the South African apartheid system (Battle, 2021; Tutu, 2000). As a global religious icon, his ideas and pastoral works are an ongoing source of guidance and inspiration to the young generation. If many people venerated Archbishop Tutu, some people had made serious criticisms, for instance, on his Nobel Peace Prize award and his method of non-violence struggle (Lester and Osborne, 2021). For them, Archbishop Tutu’s political and social vision did not work out so well, particularly his South African post-apartheid paradigm of forgiveness and reconciliation. For example, many South Africans viewed Archbishop Tutu’s post-apartheid paradigm of the ‘Truth and President Barack Obama greets Archbishop Desmond Tutu as he arrives at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, June 30, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) Reconciliation Commission’ as a massive failure because survival perpetrators of the South Africa apartheid system had never been faced the court of justice in the immediate post-apartheid period. Aside from this, accordingly, Archbishop Tutu’s political ideas and actions based on the post-apartheid paradigm of the Truth and Reconciliation alienated the progressive South African groups. Despite these troubling legacies, many people are convinced that Archbishop Tutu’s ideas and accomplishments to challenge and dismantle white settler colonialism remain politically and socially important (Lester and Osborne, 2021). But what are my personal takeaways from the death of Archbishop Tutu? First of all, to a great degree, I have observed the bandwagon effect in the death of Archbishop Tutu. The bandwagon effect, according to social psychologists, refers to people’s behaviour, attitude, and opinions simply because everyone else is doing it or due to its popularity (Kastanakis and Balabanis, 2012). As usual, this bandwagon effect is evident in the passing of Archbishop Tutu, most especially, among the highest world leaders (Ojelu, 2021). Social media shows that condolences pour in from the highest world leaders, and even, pay homage and described Archbishop Tutu as ‘one of the great leaders’. For me, I find that as a smack of hypocrisy. Perhaps, this might sound like an utterly inappropriate statement to many people. However, the reason why I called them ‘hypocritical’ is because one of the legacies of Archbishop Tutu is challenging traditional power structures that continue to produce various injustices across the world and are neglected by these world leaders, especially by Western powers (Bramble, 2021). Aside from the bandwagon effect, I have noticed that these Western political leaders ignore and never supported Archbishop Tutu’s condemnation of human rights violations of the Zionist State of Israel against Palestinian people. Archbishop Tutu is one of the outspoken critics of the Zionist State of Israel apartheid system, the Zionist Jewish supremacist ideology, and its brutal colonialist project in the Palestinian territory (Aharoni 2021). In fact, his popular and widely quoted statement, ‘When I see Palestinians at a checkpoint, it reminds me of South Africans at checkpoints during apartheid,’ garnered international attention to atrocities of the Zionist State of Israel against Palestinian people (Polya 2022).


Therefore, according to Chris McGreal, Archbishop Tutu’s anti-apartheid against the Zionist State of Israel could not be ignored (The Guardian 2021). Despite being harassed, according to McGreal, Archbishop Tutu refused to apologise, back down, and continue to denounce the Zionist State of Israel’s apartheid system (The Guardian 2021). In 2007, for example, UN appointed Archbishop Tutu as one of the members of the High-Level Fact Finding Mission to Beit Hanoun. After he managed to meet the victims of the Israeli attack on the Beit Hanoun district of the Gaza Strip, Archbishop Tutu submitted a report for the Human Rights Council (UN 2008). According to him, “I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces”, he wrote. “Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government (2008).” Despite the fact, these leaders who recognised, praised, and venerated Archbishop Tutu’s human rights advocacy failed to condemn the Zionist State of Israel’s colonial project of the Palestinian territory. Lastly, I have observed the depoliticisation of the public ministry of Archbishop Tutu. Like many other religious activists, I have observed that the prophetic ministry of Archbishop Tutu has the tendency to be reduced to a pious abstraction/individual model. For instance, some social

media depicted Archbishop Tutu as a saint, however, they failed to give emphasis on his commitment to political-social emancipation, especially his stand against racism and injustices. As a final remark, I have borrowed the title of this essay from a Filipino historian Renato Constantino. Constantino used this phrase to question and critique Rizal as a national hero of the Philippines. For Constantino, to consider Rizal as a national hero is a mistake because he opposed the revolutionary movement during the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines (Quibuyen, 1997). In that context, Constantino used the phrase ‘veneration without understanding’ to describe how many people easily venerated the person, even without a hint and understanding the person. Sadly, most of the time, many people seem to ‘go with the flow’ and they don’t bother at all. We are convinced that the person deserves to be venerated and admired, however, we are not at all sure why we pay homage to someone or something we venerate and admire, or to a person in authority. As a Christ follower, I believe such social behaviour not only offends the faith and good conscience, more importantly, it insults the intelligence. As we continue to pay homage, cherish and celebrate the legacies of Archbishop Tutu, allow me to offer you his prayer of blessing:

Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of South Africa gestures during the session 'Believing in the Dignity of All' at the Annual Meeting 2009 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, February 1, 2009. Copyright by World Economic Forum, by Remy Steinegger

“Dear Child of God, you are loved with a love that nothing can shake, a love that loved you long before you were created, a love that will be there long after everything has disappeared. You are precious, with a preciousness that is totally quite immeasurable. And God wants you to be like God. Filled with life and goodness and laughter—and joy. “God, who is forever pouring out God’s whole being from all eternity, wants you to flourish. God wants you to be filled with joy and excitement and ever longing to be able to find what is so beautiful in God’s creation: the compassion of so many, the caring, the sharing. And God says, Please, my child, help me. Help me to spread love and laughter and joy and compassion. And you know what, my child? As you do this—hey, presto— you discover joy. Joy, which you had not sought, comes as the gift, as almost the reward for this non-self-regarding caring for others (Abrams, 2016).” 23


Training In Mission

Twenty-five years On By Rev. Andrew T. C. Chang, Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) Rev. CHANG Te-Chien (Andrew T. C. Chang) is a former General Secretary of Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT). He was a former TIM Participant (1983-84) which took him to the locations of Selly Oak, Birmingham, UK and Jamaica, WI.


hen I joined the TIM group in 1983 the people of Taiwan and PCT were still living under the tense and uncertain conditions of Martial Law, our then General Secretary Rev. Dr. C. M. Kao was still in prison. In some respects, it was not easy to leave my young family and pastorate at that time yet the hand of God was in it all and I trusted Him. Interestingly that same summer I returned to Taiwan after TIM Rev. Kao was released from his prison cell! Looking back to that year away I would say the TIM experiences helped to open my mind to see, experience and experiment with new and creative ideas as a Christian and a pastor. It also nurtured and strengthened my conviction that Christian mission with no vision will be very limited and short-lived. As well as Training in Mission the other phrase that came to hold great importance for me was “Education in Mission” - I saw the need to teach Biblical values and concepts to all ages and to challenge our church families to be outward-looking, faithful stewards and partners hand in hand with Christ. The partnership in mission concept of CWM was at that time still very new to many and possibly hard to grasp, I think it is true to say CWM was a pioneer and in some ways was ahead of its time and it took a while for the member churches even to catch up! Coming from Taiwan as I do, the image of the round table partnership was very real and vital. Yet I sometimes wonder, had I not had the TIM experience, how long would it have taken me to grasp fully what CWM was talking and writing about? The CWM model of partnership where people, experiences, cultures, material resources etc. etc. are shared in a common pool took root as I lived it out first hand along with my TIM family both in the UK and in Jamaica. Those seeds sown that year I believe impacted the direction of my future ministry and mission. After TIM I returned to the same parish for a few years and as one of God’s mysteries would have it, I later found myself on the staff or our General Assembly responsible for Christian Education. There I had the awesome responsibility and privilege to put to the test on a national level these concepts of partnership and education in mission that helped shape me.


Rev Te-Chien (Andrew) Chang. Photo by PCT.

While society has changed quite dramatically in my country the last two decades, I continue to believe the model of partnership I had come to embrace during TIM is still valid and has much to offer today. One example of this was during the well-known earthquake that shook our nation towards the end of the last century. PCT had the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between church and society and we established 18 mission care centres that had a holistic dimension to them. The church members were visible in their partnership with other religions and secular organisations alike - our mission has to be contextual and walls were pulled down. We have to be the visible hands and feet of Christ and offer our gifts, skills and experiences. Recently in our annual General Assembly, PCT made youth our focus - and we try to challenge our churches to move away from the old concept that the “youth are the church of tomorrow” - the reality is, our youth and children and indeed our women are the church of TODAY.

The concept of partnership in mission also impacted my understanding of economic justice, world peace and global disarmament. We have a responsibility to challenge our governments and international organisations on their unjust policies - the list goes on.

Mary Beth Maclean, the Rev Dr Paul McLean, Rev Te-Chien (Andrew) Chang and Ron Wallace celebrate the publication of the Hakka Bible. Photo by PCT.

The church family is of course a global family and TIM gave us unique opportunities to learn from each other and see things from different cultural and economic perspectives. One of the obvious changing trends under CWM has been the exchanging of personnel in all directions. PCT, like other members churches, have concrete examples of this in our current situation - from the old model of receiving primarily from the “parent” church, we have turned around and are learning to give as well as receive as sisters and brothers living out the agape of global mission and upholding ecumenical koinonia. We have for example personnel serving with us from two partners, PCI and PCW which a few decades ago were seen as “mother and daughter churches” but now with PCT are serving as partners in a common triangle. Then more recently, PCT has begun a partnership with one of our founding “parents” the URC. Our Seminaries and churches have also been enriched the recent years by opening their doors to international students and faculty. The concept of partnership in mission also impacted my understanding of economic justice, world peace and global disarmament. We have a responsibility to challenge our governments and international organisations on their unjust policies - the list goes on. Of course, it is difficult to evaluate fully the impact that TIM has had on each individual and member church long term. All I can say for me personally, my spiritual journey and commitment to Christ’s mission was challenged, enriched, widened and deepened during my TIM year. A recent guest to our church was reflecting with us about the use of the words “for” and “through” in terms of mission. If I were to follow that concept further, perhaps it is true to say that in seminary I was Training FOR Mission, later during 1983-84 I was Training IN Mission, and now I continue Training THROUGH Mission by God’s grace and mercy. 25

Attended Worship service at Kingstone, Jamaica, Photo courtesy of Lal Chung Lura

Out of the Belly of the Whale Lal Chung Lura (Lala) is a former Training in Mission participant and passed away from COVID-19 last August.


espite his calling, Lal Chung Lura says, he “fled from God like Jonah did”. In the latter half of the 1980s, Myanmar was going through a turbulent phase and there was despair all around. Like many others in his country, he left for Mizoram in India for better education and a means of livelihood, intending never to come back. But God had plans to get him out of the belly of the whale. Just as he finished his pre-university examinations, Lura got an invite to apply for a Training in Mission (TIM) programme of Council for World Mission. That was 27 years ago. A long-entrenched military-led government since 1962 had left Myanmar (then Burma) one of the poorest countries in the world. Politically, the generals who ran the country tightened their grip on power and repressed fundamental rights such as freedom of expression of thought and movement, freedom to hold property, and freedom of religion. As with nearly all authoritarian regimes, ad-hoc decisions were common. The economy was in the doldrums. It plunged further following a demonetisation in 1987, the third one in three decades since the junta took over. In March 1988, the whole country erupted in protests, with students leading them. Consequently, the government dismantled academic establishments, pushing the country into the ground. “We had no confidence, our world view was very narrow, and our understanding of life and ministry was limited. It was very difficult to dream big of the future or express the faith and witness. Travelling abroad was unimaginable,” says Lura. “I was really surprised when I received a letter from CWM that I was selected to participate in TIM 1991-92.”


Training in Mission (TIM) is a Diploma in Mission Studies programme instituted by the CWM since 1981 to equip young people for the ministry and mission of its member churches. A group of 10-12 young people from churches and ecumenical partners of CWM are brought together for seven months of intensive mission training. It is open to individuals aged between 18 and 30 and who are not ordained. The aim is to explore mission issues in an international and multicultural context. CWM takes care of the entire cost of travel, accommodation, food and training during the programme. For Lura’s batch, the TIM programme was held in two places, England and Jamaica. “The training in two different worlds made me understand the meaning of life and enriched my experiences,” he says. “Meeting, learning, sharing, eating, and experiencing different challenges together as a team was a fantastic experience. As we were from different backgrounds, cultures and traditions, there were many things to learn from one another. Our programme included theological insights, practical placements, meeting with different people, and learning the mission and ministry of CWM. Apart from the given programme, experiencing the lifestyle of a developed country itself was a great lesson for me.” But most of all TIM was a life-transforming occurrence for him. “Prior to my exposure to TIM my understanding of mission was just ‘saving of souls’, and I perceived people of other faith as sinners who were sure to go to hell.

But my perspective of mission and my attitude towards people of other faith changed. I got a wider understanding of mission as an affirmation of the fullness of life through the course study on contextualisation, cross-cultural mission, gender issues, Third World theology, and CWM mission and policy.” The most significant event during the TIM programme, he says, was the theme chosen for his team, “Here I am, send me” (Is.6:8). “It revived my passion to do God’s mission. I was empowered and enriched through TIM to be involved in God’s mission throughout my life which I dared not dream of before.” CWM Leaders of TIM in 1991-92. Photo courtesy of Lal Chung Lura

Prior to my exposure to TIM my understanding of mission was just ‘saving of souls’, and I perceived people of other faith as sinners who were sure to go to hell. After returning, Lura enrolled himself in a theological seminary to prepare for full-time ministry. Through his pastoral ministry, “I had a chance to empower people to engage in mission, evangelism, and to reach out to more people with the Good News.” In 2005, he joined as a lecturer at Tahan Theological College, managed by the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar. With a CWM scholarship, Lura completed his M.Th at the Theological University in Kampen, the Netherlands. In 2015, he was elected Principal of TTC. Says Lura: “TIM is a wonderful event that moulded me and transformed me to become a servant of God. It enabled and strengthened me to work faithfully in the ministry even in the midst of many struggles and challenges. My experiences with my teammates in the TIM programme is unforgettable; three decades later, they are still vibrant in my memory. It strengthened and enriched my faith and commitment to engage in God’s mission. To date, the training continues to have an impact on my life and ministry.”

Home visiting at Giddyhall village at Long placement, Jamaica. Photo courtesy of Lal Chung Lura

27 23

In the Image of God By Rt Rev Dr E. Pushpalalitha, TIM 1984-1985 participant

When she was graduating in economics from Andhra University, E. Pushpalalitha faced a choice. She Photo courtesy of Rt Rev Dr E. Pushpalalitha

had always wanted to be a lecturer, but she says she heard the voice of the Lord. Born in Diguvappad village in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh in south India, she had seen “missionaries like Ms Betty Robinson, Sister Butterfield, Ms Hawkins, Sister Mary Kurby, Deaconess Lamb and Rev. & Mrs. Massidon serving the poor and the needy in our villages, praying for and healing the sick, uplifting the downtrodden through education and the proclamation of the gospel. Their commitment, kind and compassionate heart and dedication to serve God and people inspired me for God’s mission.” Thus, she chose the clerical robe over the professor’s gown. After her degree in divinity from the Andhra Christian Theological College, Pushpalalitha was ordained a deacon on 17 July 1983 and a presbyter on 8 April 1984. On 30 September 2013, the Church of South India (CSI) ordained Pushpalalitha as a bishop, blazing a trail in a mainstream church in India. The denomination, which has nearly 4.3 million members in India and Sri Lanka, is not new to having women as priests, but this was the first time ever that a woman was consecrated to the office of the bishop. Currently serving as the Bishop of Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh, Pushpalalitha acknowledges the Training in Mission (TIM) programme of Council for World Mission (CWM) for moulding her. Since its inception in 1981, the TIM programme has brought together a group of 10-12 young people from the churches and ecumenical partners of CWM for 10 months of intensive mission training.

“Though I was born and brought up in a rural atmosphere, God gave me many opportunities to have a wider ecumenical exposure, experiences that enlighten me to understand the deep concern and need for the mission and ministry of God to serve the community at large. I remain ever grateful to CWM for this,” she says.


Pushpalalitha attended the TIM programme in 1984-85 at Birmingham, England, and in Jamaica. Among the 16 who attended the programme from 12 different countries, she represented India. “We were divided into two groups consisting of eight each, and when one group was in England the other was in Jamaica,” says Pushpalalitha.

Photo courtesy of Rt Rev Dr E. Pushpalalitha

She says it gave her an opportunity to listen to the pre-independence stories of the participants and also to learn about the liberating power of the gospel that enabled people to recapture life. “TIM gave me an exposure to new cultures, traditions, languages, patterns of life, and values that are distinct from one another,” she says. Her avenues to understanding holistic mission were many and varied: A Home for the Senior Citizens in England; and a School for the Hearing and Speech Impaired and an orphanage in St.Marys, both in Jamaica. As part of the ministry, she was also associated with the United Reformed Church in South Austin, England, and the Hope United Church in Kingston, Jamaica, “where it was a privilege to see even the Prime Minister of Jamaica attend the services.”

Photo courtesy of Rt Rev Dr E. Pushpalalitha

“The programme challenged my worldviews and I learnt to love and serve all, irrespective of caste, colour, creed and gender. TIM exposed me to racial discrimination, gender discrimination, apartheid, and gap between the haves and have-nots,” says Pushpalalitha. All this would help her serve the humble congregations back home in Rayalaseema and Nandyal dioceses, which mostly constitute illiterate and poor people. “Though people were illiterate their faith in God has enriched me. I still believe that strong faith and rich traditions can be found among the grassroots rather than in urban centres. There were no proper roads, electricity or modern amenities. However, I used to take care of 12 village congregations, meeting their spiritual, social and emotional needs. There are many instances where God’s mighty deeds were experienced. God has used me as an instrument to proclaim the gospel, to build families and communities, resolve issues in the church, buy and develop church properties.”

Photo courtesy of Rt Rev Dr E. Pushpalalitha

From 2000 to 2005, Pushpalalitha served as the director of Visranthi Nilayam, the headquarters of the CSI Women’s Fellowship and mother house of the CSI Order of Sisters. At present, while continuing the existing projects and programmes in the diocese, her focus is on women’s empowerment and skill training programmes for rural girls. They are imparted training in tailoring, computers and spoken English apart from Bible courses. Other programmes in the diocese under her watch include the girl child campaign and awareness programmes on gender equality, child rights, and youth against addiction and abuse.

Photo courtesy of Rt Rev Dr E. Pushpalalitha 29

Bishop Pushpalalitha’s priority now is health and educational institutions of Nandyal diocese, a vast area that is spread over five revenue districts. There are 20 schools, one multi-purpose hospital and a school for the blind in the diocese. Some of the schools are as old as 135 years. The new educational policies of the government that support the interests of the rich pose a great challenge to run the institutions, she says. Maintaining and establishing partnerships with the CSI dioceses and the overseas partners is another area of involvement. “Nandi-Kanya” is the new partnership initiated between Nandyal and Kanyakumari dioceses. Pushpalalitha is also on the boards of CSI-SEVA, the diaconal wing of CSI, the Andhra Christian Theological College (ACTC), Hyderabad, and the Andhra Pradesh Christian Council (APCC). She is also on the board of the Annual General Body meeting of the United Theological College, Bangalore.

“I am recognised in many forums as the first woman bishop of the Church of South India and given privilege of expressing my views on gender equity, and also holistic mission and ministry,” she says.

Photos courtesy of Rt Rev Dr E. Pushpalalitha

At a time when theological debates rage over the role of women in the church, the consecration of Pushpalalitha is momentous. “I didn’t find any gender discrimination in CWM; it gave us a good opportunity and privilege to express and share our ideas freely, and though we were from different nations and different cultures it brought us to be the oneness in Christ and to become the family of God.” Pushpalalitha’s experience serves as one more reminder of how women, made in the image of God, are on equal terms with men when it comes to not just ministry but all facets of life. In this she appreciates the good efforts of CWM in making her and her TIM partners “the channel of God’s love and grace in the world and to build the kingdom of God on this earth.”


Taste of Heaven Training in Mission By Lim Sok Yee, Former TIM participant


ifferent people have different ideas of heaven. Lim Sok Yee visualises it as a place where people of different tribes and tongue stand before the King at the throne and worship Him. “The 10-month experience in Training In Mission (TIM) gave me a taste of that,” she says. “Ten different people representing 10 different nations, with different cultures and languages, bound together with the love of Christ. I have seen and experienced how difficult it is sometimes for churches or denominations to work together, but after the TIM experience, I truly believe that it can be done.”

Since the beginning of its existence in 1977, CWM has been characterised by its service in the transformation of individuals, communities and the society at large. Its Theological Statement calls for a deeper involvement in social issues—to take a stand on the side of the poor, the powerless and the oppressed. But the commitment is not merely to bring immediate relief to the suffering but also to work towards the creation of global structures that will ensure basic dignity and humane existence for all people. This also means taking a stand against the present structures of society.

Through the TIM programme, a group of 10-12 young people from the churches and ecumenical partners of Council for World Mission (CWM) are brought together for seven months of intensive mission training.

According to the CWM’s Common Resources Handbook 2017, “TIM is an enabling experience of participants for an adventure of faith, rooted in God and enacted in the world. It is a journey of transformation, a dialectic of self and society.” As the Handbook states further, TIM is not just another youth training programme. “It seeks to offer a radical alternative to the mission formation of young adults.” Participants are expected to: Be the visible expression of God’s calling of every Christian to be ‘sent-out’ as witnesses to the risen Christ in the world; Witness to the new humanity in Christ by taking action to break down cultural, racial, linguistic and other barriers. They are called to a lifestyle that is shaped by more than one culture and tradition; 31

Be living examples of partnership in mission, the principle upon which CWM is founded, by challenging and enriching the lives and mission of other partners in mission and being responsible for and accountable to one another; and Engage in community activities such as worship, shared meals and other common responsibilities, which contribute to creating a harmonious group experience. Lim Sok Yee, a member of the Presbyterian church in Malaysia, or the Gereja Presbyterian Malaysia (GPM), spent 10 months in 2007 in South Africa and India for TIM. “We had devotion together every night without fail, singing praises to God, sharing the Word of God and praying together. We learnt to sing praises to God in many different languages. Though we had our disagreements and disappointments we were always reminded that we were one body, we served the same God. We spent time to pray about

Lim Sok Yee served children in villages. “The journey as a missionary is not easy, but TIM has trained me well. Living in difficult situations, facing language problems, working together with people of different characters, all these are part and parcel of TIM,” she says.

She has ended her service as a missionary and is back home in the church kindergarten, after being away for seven years. She sees the kindergarten and her town as her mission field now. Ten years after her training, Lim Sok Yee says the relationship with her batchmates of the TIM 2007 batch is still going strong. “We learnt how to deal with conflict, we learnt how to complement each other,” she says. “God placed them in my life to mould me into who I am today. I really thank God for each of my team members.” In 2010, the batchmates had a reunion. Three of the participants are today missionaries, three are pastors, two are involved in social work and two others are serving their respective churches. Says She says her understanding of mission broadened Lim Sok Yee: “We all agree that TIM has changed our during her time in TIM. “I had first-hand experience of life so much.” how a missionary would feel and the many problems they would face. All these prepared me for my service now,” says Lim Sok Yee. difficult situations and cry together when someone was sad,” she says about her experience.

Returning from the TIM programme, Lim Sok Yee worked for five years in the church kindergarten before she decided to go full time in missions. “The TIM experiences of working with children who are sick, underprivileged and victimised really lit up the fire in me. I wanted to be a voice for the poor and oppressed, to help children know that they are special in God’s eyes, that God has a special plan for each one of them,” she says acknowledging the opportunities she got to work with children in different parts of the world. “The lessons learnt in TIM are always very useful.”



Greetings from the Moderator to Partners-in-Mission Dear co-labourers, It gives me great pleasure to bring greetings to you from the CWM family and the Board of Directors who are residing and serving in various parts of the world. Immediately, I want to congratulate all our Partners in Mission, both current and incoming, for either staying the race or joining the race of God’s service through PIM at such a time as this when world conditions appear at their least favourable. Travel has been difficult, relocating has been impossible for some, COVID-19 is continuing to be a force to reckon with, conspiracy theories are in abundance, and personal safety is at the bare minimum. Yet – a big yet - our Partners in Mission choose to continue to serve under these conditions that have been described by some as V.U.C.A. conditions – the Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous environment that we live and work in. Thank you, Partners-in-Mission, for serving in these “volatile” times of unexpected and sudden changes in all aspects of life, from volatile politics, climate crises, plummeting economies, and fast changing technologies. Yet mission partners have buckled up to continue to work towards the CWM strategic goal of developing life-affirming communities in the middle of the volatility. Thank you, Partners-in-Mission, for persevering through the “uncertainties” that have rendered the lives of people unpredictable, fluid and full of grey areas. Many, in various fields of work, have thrown in the towel and given up because the uncertainties bring with them significant levels of emotional and mental health pressures. But our PIMs are pressing on and serving with commitment and excellence through the uncertainties. Thank you, Partners-in-Mission, for standing strong in the “complex” conditions of your places of origin and your places of service. The complications and interconnectedness of one’s personal life and one’s working life have made it such that we are operating at multiple levels at all times. It is now not just complex in business and religion – it is now ‘multiplex’ and to serve and survive in such conditions is applaudable. Even the technological complexities our PIMs have to work under are not easy because the people they serve are not necessarily at those same levels. Thank you, Partners-in-Mission, for ploughing on through the “ambiguities” that have become the order of the day even in theology and culture. Life is having to be lived in contexts where information is abundant but the meaning of the information is unclear. Mixed meanings and double meanings are the order of the day. And the potential of misreading the times and misinterpreting the information is high. Yet – a big yet – our Partners in Mission are prepared to serve in these Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous conditions through their amazing resilience, adaptability and resourcefulness. CWM is proud to be associated with these humble yet outstanding servants of God’s mission. May the Lord abundantly bless them as they continue to serve where God has placed them. Rev. Lydia C. Neshangwe Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) Minister Council for World Mission (CWM) Moderator 33

Rise to life

Partnering with God in building life flourishing communities By Sindiso Jele, CWM Africa Mission Secretary

The CWM statement 2020-2029 argues ‘…. Beneath the

surface of Babylon, (there are) alternative hopes, dreams and visions of life … Thus, life anew breaks out from beneath Babylon….’ Therefore, we locate Rise to life in communities (Revelations 21:1ff). Rise to life is the affirmation of human effort in partnering with God in saving the groaning world. It is an affirmation that God is located in the lives, the told and untold stories of the communities. As such in the sending and receiving the PIM communities join GOD nurturing the young mind (lecturers and teachers), they join God healing the wounded (in nurses and doctors), we join God in confronting the Empire through prophetic ministry (in Ministers/Pastors and preachers). Rise to life is equally about learning new things in the pilgrimage of our faith. Is about accepting that we do not own the monopoly of wisdom. It accepts that other civilisation has something to offer in making this earth a better place. As such, Rise to Life is about ideological tolerance, it negates racial supremacy.


I pray, God, the mother of love and peace, that you take care of the PIM and enrich their minds as the join your mission in the communities (Missio Dei). I pray for ideological, cultural and theological tolerance. In you your hands, I commit them Image by Rev Dileep Kandula

Introducing our Newest Partner in Mission Rev Nigel Lindsay Greetings to you all from sunny, hot and hilly Grenada I am Nigel Lindsay, a social worker and Primary Mental Health Worker who has sometimes worked in schools since my ordination as a Congregational Minister in the UK in Oct 2009. The time had come for me to move on from my two Churches in East Ham London and as I have done some work in other countries, I felt God encouraging me to apply to CWM’s Partner-in-Mission Programme. The Presbyterian Church of Grenada was in need of someone to support their one Presbyterian minister and the role was to be Pastor to Samaritans Church and be Chaplain to the primary and secondary school, all in the north of the Island.


What a match, God had it all planned. I have been in Grenada for several weeks now, at a time when COVID19 cases are on the rise in Grenada. We have had Zoom services during weekends when we are not permitted to leave our homes, which is fine for those who can connect, except that there are people who don’t have a device or access to the internet. Despite this, I am excited about working with the schools and the Churches here. I am keen to learn and hope that some of the experience I bring will be useful. Whilst working in Nigeria and Kenya I have tried to work alongside local people so they felt more empowered. Finding the right people to take on different roles can be a challenge as I have discovered in UK Churches, but it does lead to development and sustainability. I come with lots of ideas, but I need to listen and spend some time trying to understand the culture, relationships and desire of the people I am here to serve. At this time, it is difficult to meet with people, but I have started to meet with the young and the old. The house is slightly isolated in the Secondary school grounds and when the schools were closed for at least an extra 2 weeks, I have been using the time to get out and walk. The Church is a 55 minute walk for me up and down many hills and winding roads. I have met and had conversations with people on the way and then explored local streets in the Samaritan area. People in the town are getting to know me and as they see me more, understand I am not a tourist passing though. I have been provided with a car and I am getting used to the hills and the bends. Grenada is a very beautiful country and the people are friendly and welcoming. It is a great privilege to be here. Travelling in COVID-19 times is confusing and anxiety-provoking. The rules are changing all the time and some changes do not keep up with the systems. Getting the PCR test before travel, checking that it is the right one when different terms are used, and being aware it has to be within 72 hours before my flight, even though the test results may take 48 hours to come through. I transited through Barbados and so had to fill in forms online, but could not do them until a few days before. Then after trying many times, I did not succeed and had to do it at the airport. I think I made five attempts to fill in the Grenadian Government safe travel form, which could not be filled in too far in advance. The form did not allow you to see all the questions until you had completed a page and I had to keep finding different information at each stage. As I slowly got near the end, it said I had to quarantine for up to 14 days. As I had a house to go to, my host and I expected that I could be quarantined at the house. Then I found out that as someone new to the country, that was not allowed, and I had to have a hotel booked for 7 days. I ended up at the quarantine hotel for just 3 nights and then was free to be out and about.

Walk and talk. Photo courtesy of Rev Nigel Lindsay 35

The Samaritan Presbyterian Church in Grenada. Photo courtesy of Rev Nigel Lindsay

Whilst travelling you are never quite sure what to expect at the airports and some of the processes do not seem to fit. Others are very efficient and work well. I look forward to working on the Partners in Mission (PIM) programme and find out about others in different areas. It would be great to meet up with you all in person or on Zoom sometime soon.

Prayer for Partners in Mission By Faithlyn Stephens , Partner In Mission, United Church in Jamaica & the Cayman Islands (UCJCI)


oly Father God, we give You thanks for calling and choosing us to serve in the contexts where You have positioned us. We thank You for the skills and talents with which You have blessed us, and for the human and material resources which You provide for us to undertake the various tasks. Lord, as we all traverse our respective mission courses, I pray especially for the Partners who entered/will be entering this ministry during this season of a devastating pandemic. Father, may we not be consumed by the many life changes, disruptions and uncertainties which the pandemic deposits on us moment by moment, day by day. Rather, Holy God, may we trust in the knowledge that you are the God of the universe and, hence, You have full control over the ravages of any pandemic. In the same manner that so long as Peter kept his focus on Jesus he walked solidly on the water, if we keep our focus on You we shall walk boldly through this COVID pandemic. May we seek Your divine discernment, guidance and direction as we manoeuvre making the relevant adjustments and modifications to our programmes and plans, so that the outcomes which You desire will be successfully achieved. Dear God, help us to also exercise Your wisdom and patience to deal with and overcome all the other types of 36 INSiGHT FEBRUARY 2022

challenges which beset us in our daily work. Almighty Father, grant us the grace and humility to remain in fervent prayer at Your throne of healing and transformation. Bless our biological families, church families, friends, colleagues and associates who intercede in prayer for us and support us in diverse ways. Strengthen the family members who serve on the mission field with us. Remove the discomfort of loneliness from the psyche of Partners whose family members are not in mission with them. Merciful God, may we feel Your Presence with us always; may the Blood of Jesus protect us on this journey; may Your Holy Spirit accomplish Your purpose through us and sustain us; may we recognize and acknowledge the Guardian Angels whom You lovingly send to care for us O Lord, with hearts full of gratitude, we release all our anxieties to You, being confident that the mission and those to whom we minister are not ours, but Yours. In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Call for Papers for International Reformed Theological Institute (IRTI) 14th Biennial International Conference

Academic theologians from all disciplines interested in the theme of ‘Theology Facing Climate Change’ are invited to submit their proposals for presentation at the International Reformed Theological Institute (IRTI) 14th Biennial International Conference by April 1, 2022. Theme The adverse and disproportionate effects of the climate crisis urge theologians to address the question of environmental justice in search of the fullness of life for all, which the gospel proclaims. As the rise of ‘green theology’ and ‘ecotheology’ indicates, there exists a need to develop forms of constructive theology that focus on the interrelationships of religion, nature, and justice in the light of environmental crisis. Complex relationships exist between religious and non-religious worldviews and the degradation and/or restoration of the more-than-human nature. Understood in this way, theology has the double task of self-criticism of its own tradition and theological concepts, together with retrieval from tradition to develop new constructive understandings and proposals. On the one hand, it should be recognised that Christian anthropocentrism and the emphasis on human dominion over nature has played a part in environmental devastation. On the other hand, voices from Scripture and tradition may point to another account of the relationships between God, human being and the more-than-human nature. The paradoxical situation that the human being is more than ever responsible for what is at stake on the planet and, at the same time, is faced with the unmanageability of environmental crisis could be illuminated from the perspective of sin, salvation, and restoration. In short, the urgent challenges of climate change and environmental crisis may be addressed from the broad variety of all the classical dogmatic loci. The 14th biennial IRTI online conference will take the various loci as starting point for theological and (inter)contextual reflection on the urgent theme of climate change. You can send your abstract of no more than 250 words to the secretary Albert Nijboer: Presentations should be no longer than 15 minutes. Online registration will open after 1 April on Click here for details.


This article first appeared in the August 2019 issue of INSiGHT.

Empire 2.0

Separating Adam from Adamah has kept Empire in place: Land as locus of liberation By Garnett Roper JP PhD


articipating in the DARE forum under the panel, People Land and Empire has helped to clarify for me something I had known intuitively, the empire means doing the same thing to people all over the world in different ways. It is ironic that Caribbean adopted by the independent territories in the region to describe themselves as Caribbean economic community (CARICOM) is intentionally post-colonial. It however leaves it as an open question, whether or not the region has moved away from the clutches of empire. This paper contends that in relation to empire, at its most fundamental level when it comes to land ownership and use, there is both a residue and a resurgence of empire in the Caribbean region if not also elsewhere. The forces of empire dispossessed indigenous peoples of their land in the name of conquest. Those forces distorted the uses of the land in the name of economic domination, grew crops that were for the benefit of the tables of the North Atlantic rather than to serve the needs of the nation state and its people. Land was distributed in ways that were for the advantage and benefit of the economically dominant ethnic minority and perpetuated their advantage to the disadvantage of the people of the land. This remains the open question, as to whether or not political priorities and programmes ought to include the repossession of land and the redistribution of land for the purposes of causing the people of the land to flourish and prosper. Is there a narrative that can rescue such policies in the name of the people from the risk of distortion and demonisation? It also raises a question about theology deployed in the interest of human flourishing by seeking to bring grace and power of God in Jesus Christ to bear upon the lived reality of the people in spaces of domination and oppression. Is this a legitimate concern of theology and does theology offer a response to both the residue of empire and the resurgence of empire? The small island states of the Caribbean do not have enough land to ensure a quality of life comparable to European farmers. The problems of the Caribbean that does not have enough land to benefit from economies of scale are made worse because of the legacy of the unequal distribution of land. This paper explores the land question as historical legacy and challenge for public policy. In what ways has the particular history of the Jamaica and the Caribbean bequeathed a land situation to the people of the Caribbean that has perpetuated the agendas of Empire rather than facilitated human flourishing in the Region? The land situation is one in which places like Jamaica find itself with between 20 and 30% of its population landless and living in unplanned and unorganised communities called squatter settlements. On the one hand, this landlessness has exacerbated the identity crisis, the situation of inequality and has intensified the lack of economic and social mobility for the majority of the people at the base of the population for whom their lived reality is marked privation, poverty and misery.


Most recent estimates given by public officials, including Jamaica’s Leader of Opposition at his debut political conference, indicate that 700,000 Jamaicans live in squatter settlements. This is approximately 25% of the population.


This situation of landlessness is not unrelated to the high incidents of crime and violence and social dysfunction generally that have come to characterise parts of Jamaica and Caribbean. On the other hand, the forces and powers that colonised the Caribbean and imposed the plantation economy and chattel slavery with its attendant sense of uprootedness and loss of identity for the people of African ancestry are still in positions that allow them to benefit disproportionately from the economic and social circumstances of the Caribbean. These forces and powers remain in positions that allow them to be in control of the narrative and to determine the public transcript as far as priorities of public policy and national development are concerned. Have emancipation, nationalism and political independence gone far enough to secure an advantage in economic, political and social terms in so far as the people of the Caribbean region are concerned? Have they merely tinkered at the edges? Have the powers that were the erstwhile masters and owners of the region merely reconfigured themselves in order to continue benefit to the same or similar extent as they have in the past. Put differently, has empire been materially marginalised in the Caribbean or does the Caribbean remain in the periphery or clutches of empire? Is the Caribbean a basin, playground or stomping ground for the forces of empire, imperialism and hegemony? How much of what constitutes Caribbean reality is self-inflicted, the result of mis-governance or misrule since political independence and how much of is it the result of the technologies of power?

Is this discussion about the entrenched structures that operate within the region and among the Caribbean people as their lived reality? Or is the discussion framed in the manner that it is because of imbibing a concocted narrative that lionises the erstwhile masters of the Caribbean in the eyes of the Caribbean and demonises the progress of the people of the region? It is therefore important that this analysis does not minimise the progress of the people of the Caribbean as modest as that progress may have been as a way of perpetuating self-doubt that bedevils Caribbean thinking. This discussion cannot afford to believe about the Caribbean, that the more things change, the more they remain the same for the people of the region. In this way, one is not seeking to “bad-mouth” the progress of the Caribbean people. Despite remarkable inherited disadvantages, the people of the Caribbean have punched above their weight class as global players and actors and in some respects, the Caribbean has achieved a quality of life (rates of infant mortality, life expectancy, telecommunications infrastructure, rates of literacy and numeracy, extent of press freedom) that rivals places in the metropoles of the North Atlantic. On the other hand, there are matters arising from the legacy of misrule by its own and by the emissaries of the North Atlantic, from chattel slavery, colonialism and by the since hurriedly abandoned (by the North Atlantic anyway) globalisation. Careful analysis without aiming to be exhaustive needs to take account of all of the above. 39

Empire 2.0 invites us to consider the residue and resurgence of empire, the ways in which the technology and infrastructure of power have reconfigured themselves to do the people of the Two-Thirds world what they have done before. In this regard we consider the nature of the intersection between people, land and empire. All factors are at play in the Caribbean. In this regard, land is an important flashpoint. Land is the site through which, in many respect, European hegemony has been asserted in the region. It must be borne in mind that the Caribbean has been the arena in which various European powers have sought to assert their hegemony and dominance in relation to each other. Some Caribbean territories changed hands among European Countries (England, France, Spain and Holland) in the period of colonisation and some of the territories in the region were sold from one member of the North Atlantic community, to another. Land that is owned publicly (Government land) is still referred to as Crown Lands, which is a relic of the colonial past. ² When slavery was abolished in Jamaica, there was no attempt to enfranchise the landless African population, who left the hobbles and plantation grounds of the plantation and fled to the marginal lands in the hillsides. Very little has happened since then to systematically enfranchise the African base of the population where land ownership is concerned. The Biblical narratives concerning land The creation account in Genesis 2 indicates the inseparable relationship between human beings and land. There is an inter-dependence and co-relationship between human beings and the land. According to the Genesis account, “Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth[a] and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground”(Genesis 2. 4-7). On the other hand, the creation accounts indicate that man was formed from the dust of the ground, Adam from Adamah. When Adam was formed “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” The separation of Adam from Adamah has created all forms of crises for human society: the ecological crisis is one such crisis, but also the separation of Adam from Adamah has precipitated the economic social and political crises that bedevil modern human society. It is the separation of Adam from Adamah that is the greatest impediment to human flourishing. In Paradise past, there was a unity between Adam and Adamah such that resulted in the flourishing of creation and harmony within the human community. When the Fall is depicted in Genesis 3, it is in terms of a recalcitrance of the land in which its yield becomes less assured or predictable and the land requiring more from human beings in order to produce sustainably. ³ 40 INSiGHT FEBRUARY 2022


Genesis 3.17-19 “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.


It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.


By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

The hostility between Adam and Adamah is the consequence of the Fall and so also is the rivalry and competitiveness rather than complementarity between the partners in the human family. This remains the case and to find remedies for it is the task and project of salvation, redemption and liberation. It is useful to consider how land was regarded and treated in the rest of the Pentateuch or Hexateuch. The provisions made and injunctions given in the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua are instructive in terms the value placed on land. Land was critical to the self-identity of the fledgling people of Israel. How land was handled and how land issues were settled became pivotal to the progress of social justice in Israel. The Promise Land was the gift from Yahweh to Israel in quest of a nationalist agenda. Joshua was a significant figure for the land project in which Israel was made to settle on the allotment of land in the broad spacious and fertile plain given to the tribes of Yahweh. The suggestion is whether or not the historicity of the text is established, it is clear that the perspective of the Deuteronomist is that land was critical to the agency and viability of the nation state. Having left Egypt, Israel entered the land of the Hittites in order to find space to become a people. The drama of the passing out parade of Empires and their relationship to the fledgling Israelite nation state was also about land. The Assyrian absorbed the northern Ten Tribes and over time the identity of Israel as a separate and distinct people vanished. Babylon expatriated the best of Judah, laid waste both their agricultural development and their civic, religious commercial and political infrastructure. Jeremiah who looked beyond the exile for a new beginning bought a parcel of land as a token of hope in the future of the people of the land, the ‘am ha ‘aretz. The Persian Emperor Cyrus returned Israel to their land and in that sense reconstructed and restored the prospect of a viable Israelite nation state. Yahweh was the ultimate landowner and the land was leased to clans and families in perpetuity, it could not be sold. This was structured into the Israelite economy by the so-called jubilee principle in which every 50 years land reverted to the ownership by families to which it was first allotted. The Jubilee principle preserved liberty and equality within Israel among its people and was a critical to social justice legislation.

Dr Garnett Roper is the former President of the Jamaica Theological Seminary (JTS). He earned his Phd in Theology at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and his subject of research is the Development of a Caribbean Public Theology. Dr Roper was also one of the presenters at the Council for World Mission (CWM) Dare conference in 2017 and 2018.

The biblical concept of land as Promised Land, land as divine possession and the indigenous concept of land as sacred are related. The project of social justice and the ecological crisis (Climate Change) will require for their remedy that the issue of land, made worse for the people by the machinations of empire, be addressed.

39 41

SEEN & HEARD 1 - 27 February | Black History Month

Claudette Calvin

I knew then and I know now when it comes to justice there’s no easy way to get it

7 to 12 February Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2022

There remains what seems like and impenetrable wall of silence around violence and we must all play a role in breaking this silence. ~ Reese Witherspoon ~

You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know. William Wilberforce


In the Same Breath

My Octopus Teacher

When the Coronavirus outbreak first ripped across nations throughout the globe, people on the ground were mostly caught unprepared and relied heavily with the plethora of different narratives painted by the Governments as reliable sources of information. Film maker Nanfu Wang, being a Chinese native who had immigrated to the United States of America, witnessed first-hand, how the delay in deliverance of important information and worst, misinformation, could spiral a powerful country out of control and into an incomprehensible state of disarray and confusion.

The documentary tells a story of what mankind could learn from other living creatures that shares the same Earth as us, when we allow ourselves to observe intently with an open heart and mind. Craig Foster spent a yearlong journey trailing and revisiting the kelp forest in a part of the South African sea, to repeatedly rekindle with an Octopus. In this case, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, as both species were more frequently exposed with each other, familiarity instead bred curiosity and then friendship.

Forever Prisoner The aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, thrusted America into an overdrive of finding not only the culprits, but also pre-empting potential events such as this which could happen again in the near future. The application of torture techniques on prisoners in isolation, became justifiable and necessary. The lives of those held in captive, regardless if they are innocent or guilty, are unjustly tried and tested in remand, and would be forgotten and conveniently wiped out from existence if they were to die from the ordeal.


6 men faces the uncomfortable truth by confronting the Catholic Church head-on, on the sexual abuse and trauma resulted, which haunts them into adulthood, through the actions they’ve received from the priests when they were serving under the altar. Rather than going on a witch hunt for the perpetrators, the men are seeking to forgive and along the way, hopefully heal to recover mentally and emotionally and find the closure they require to leave the insidious past behind them.

Welcome to Earth Welcome to Earth opens our eyes to what you have already assumed about how much we know about the planet we call home. This docu-adventure takes viewers across expansive lands and continents to the depths of the oceans, exploring wonders that are hidden from us and out-of-sight. Will Smith conquers not only perceivable fears but also of the unknown, trudging down precarious land formations or standing in close proximity of an active volcano, while uncovering the perspectives of beauty so readily available of this planet we live in.


The Ivory Game

Strong Island

The Ivory Trade has been a thorn in the sides of environmental preservationalists for decades, as governments are doing not enough to protect the elephants from poachers or diminishing on the demands for elephant tusks. In China, where ivory is perceived to be a symbol of wealth and status, the black market thrives on its demand which drives up poaching activities for those seeking a fortune through hunting these already critically endangered animals.

The murder of William Ford, an African American school teacher in 1992 by a 19-year-old white mechanic in front of an all-white jury, resulted in the latter’s acquittal with no charge, due to the claim of self-defence. Two decades later, his brother and film maker Yance Ford, took it to himself to unravel the truths that were swept under the rug and conveniently forgotten, but not by those who are subjected to the realities of such injustices – and in desperate need of answers and accountability to bring about rightful closure.

No Burqas Behind Bars This prison holds the untold stories of tragedies, where women are made faceless and unidentifiable by an oppressive society of post-Taliban Afghanistan. They are all rendered powerless in a patriarchal and religious society which controls women by charging them with crimes of morality, most of which had taken the routes they’ve chosen due to the abuse and mistreatment in their home environments or at the hands of their husbands. However, being held in captivity does not diminish the hope in these women, for they are constantly looking ahead to change their lives upon release.

Rotten Do we ever think about where on earth does our food come from and how does it end up eventually on our plates? And have we also considered, especially after being exposed and hit in the faces with the relentless throngs of marketing messages from these powerful food corporations, that they are plying the absolute truth and nothing but the truth about the products they are selling to their customers? Rotten investigates no holds barred, to uncover the impossibly corrupt and fraudulent practices of the food industries all over the world which would send one hurling up the contents of their previous meal.

2040 A film that looks at a father’s hope for a future in which his daughter could live in without the repercussions of climate change. We see him exploring existing and new solutions that are scalable, practical and viable for implementation in the prevention of a not-so-distant possibility which already appears so bleak and dire for those who are to inherit the earth. Gameau is adamant and is out to demonstrate to the world that the required change can still be achieved, with current consequences reversed, if everyone does their part. 39 47


“Vulnerability is not a weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous... Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive.” - Brené Brown -

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