GETI’17: Making the Good News Relevant in the Public Space

August 11th, 2017 9:33 am

Hadje Cresencio Sadje is an associate member in the Center for Palestine Studies – SOAS University of London, UK. He is currently a Master student at the Evangelical Theological Faculty – Leuven and has been working with various professional and faith-based organisations, including Christian Peacemaker Team, Caritas Brussels, Peace Builders Community Philippines, and the Foundation University – Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

 

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Loving-kindness and truth go before You.

Psalm 89:14

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) hosted the Global Ecumenical Institute (GETI’17) in Berlin from May 19th to June 1st, 2017 in co-operation with various theological faculties in Europe. Through unique and innovative program, GETI’17 hoped to create a unique global platform for theological students and young theologians from all over the world. To celebrate the 500 years of the Reformation, GETI’17 takes ecumenical-theological response to three urgent challenges for Europe at the moment: Reforming Theology, Migrating Church, and Transforming Society. GETI’17 recognizes these theological challenges are certainly vital. The GETI program allows me to have a unique opportunity to exchange ideas, knowledge, practices, and experiences. On top of that, GETI program is not simply a process of transferring knowledge, but a process of critical theological reflection and transformative, to make the good news relevant today. On a personal level, my experience with the GETI’17 program echoes my experience working as a part-time volunteer in the Christian Peacemaker Team Greece and Caritas Brussels, where I have specifically asked the question, what is the role of “Christian churches” in the global refugee crisis?

My question brings me back into the commemoration of the 500 years of Reformation. I realized that the GETI 2017 turned out to be a test of commitment to the popularized slogan of the Reformation tradition, “reformanda semper reformata.” Although the exact meaning is unclear, this slogan simply means that the reformed church should always be reformed. For GETI’17, as the world is changing, our Christian faith always be in a proper response in a new context and new challenges that have something to do with real life.

In view of the above, GETI’17 refused to be silent in the public square. At the same time, it defies the dominant view of privatization of religion. GETI refutes the false division between “public” and “private” spheres in Christian life. GETI suggests that European Christian communities should influence the formation of public morality and public order in different social strata. For instance, the role of Christian churches on public policy making process, particularly in immigrant or refugee integration. It is part of our biblical mandate. Doris Peschke, a general secretary of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) argues that “The Christian mandate is based on the Bible, from which through a meticulous process of theological interpretation Christian elaborate their code of conduct.” She further argues, “A careful hermeneutical analysis of biblical references related to migrants can offer valuable ethical insights and directives which Churches and Christians should respect when dealing with migrant populations.”

In the last G20 Hamburg Summit, several interreligious groups/institutions, such World Faith Development Dialogue, Jacob Soetendrop Institute for Human Values, Islamic Relief Worldwide, International Catholic Migration Commission, UNFPRA, and PaRD with inputs from Berkley Center, World Council of Churches, and CRRP-University of Winchester, appeals to G20 policy makers to support wider religious roles in refugee resettlement. The often misunderstood, and commonly underappreciated religious dimension of forced migration, these religious groups argue, “Religious roles in humanitarian agendas have received considerable recent attention, including action proposals featured during the May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.” They further argue, “However, more systematic engagement with religious actors and cooperation with religious organizations and actors (including the large body of faith-inspired organizations), which are doing important work on the ground, is needed. The G20 can play a crucial role by devoting explicit attention to the topic.” The policy suggestion paper implies that there is a strong recognition and impact of religious roles in the global refugee crisis. It is about time, for global policy makers, to recognize the valuable contributions of religious sectors in nation building. If religion has often been seen as part of the global problem, therefore, we also have to consider that religion as part of the global solution. Rabbi David Rosen argues, “If you don’t want religion to be part of the problem, then you have to make it part of the solution.”

In this regard, GETI’17 program/course takes such timely opportunities to develop future public theologians. Only by creating an intensive short-term ecumenical training where future public theologians can respond properly that many of the global issues will not go unaddressed. As highlighted in the program, theological education plays a vital role in preparing the current and future generation of theologians, Christian activists, and churches, with theological skills needed to respond to the rising religious intolerance, extremism, and the resurgence of racism. True enough, I personally felt empowered and inspired by GETI’17 program, to continue my passion in working with refugees. This ecumenical program taught me to be more critical than ever to churches, social issues, and social order. In short, GETI’17 program making the Good News relevant in the contemporary public space.

 

References

Doris Peschke, The Role of Religion for the Integration of Migrants in Europe, Reforming Theology, Migrating Church, Transforming Society: A Compendium for Ecumenical Education, eds. Uta Andrée, Benjamin Simon, & Lars Röser-Israel, (Hamburg, Missionshilfe, 2017), 198-216.

“Religion, Identity, and Violence”, The World Religions: A Contemporary Reader, ed. Arvind Sharma, (USA: Fortress Press, 2011), 17.

Leave A Response

You may use the <a>, <em>, and <strong> tags. Your email address will not be published.

World Student Christian Federation – Europe
Piazza di Centa 9
38122, Trento, Italy
+39 329 2099274 IBAN: IT85T0503401801000000000417 BIC: BAPPIT21179
Subscribe using RSS

Disclaimer

The work of WSCF-Europe is financially supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

This website reflects the views only of the author, and the donors cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.