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Sam Kobia’s Lecture in SCMI

“Youth Envisioning Ecumenism – Youth Revitalizing
the Ecumenical Movement in the Indian context”

February 2007

Workshop on Re-Reading the Bible
Workshop on Re-Reading the Bible

Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of World Council of Churches gave an input to the SCMI on “Youth Envisioning Ecumenism – Youth Revitalizing the Ecumenical Movement in the Indian context” in early February 2007.

Dr. Kobia challenged the young people of India today to reflect on the meaning of church and young people in the ‘post-colonial’ era. Young people’s role in the society and church today is critical as they need to critically analyse the current trends of globalisation that might hinder gains made from any de-colonising process in the global South. In this ‘post-colonial’ era, there should not be a complacency that the relations of domination are behind us and both church and society are facing trends similar to those of colonisation with the influences of neo-liberal globalisation, and India has witnessed the real threats to life caused by water privatisation, big dam projects, domination from corporate business and new agricultural technologies. In addition to economic globalization, cultural globalization continues to affect the identities and agency of young people around the world.

The ‘post-colonial’ era hence has tremendous effects of identity, and the pride and empowerment on young people from the global South is eminent. Dr. Kobia thus challenged the church and the society that young people need to be regarded as (and indeed claim space as) main stakeholders and assets NOT as liabilities in the church and society. Young people represent potential and hope for change and revitalization. It is the role of each young generation to pose the challenging questions and bring change for the better. This is not only true for the society and political institutions but also for the churches.

Student Christian Movement of India organised a Bible Study Workshop on “Re-Reading the Bible” at SCMI Programme Centre, Bangalore on 1-4 March 2007. 45 students and senior friends from all over the country attended this workshop, with Rev. Dr. Dhyanchand Carr, Rev. Stephen Sundersingh and Rev. Dr. C.I. David Joy as the resource persons.

The programme was designed to help the students to take one-step ahead from the existing traditional understanding and interpretation of the Bible and interpret it from the socio-economic, political and cultural realities of our society, making it more relevant and significant for the people. In the process, we had few input sessions on: Introduction of the Bible, Underlying Principles of Re-Reading the Bible, Tools for Re-Reading the Bible and The Bible and the Society Today. There were also two exposures to reflect the two extreme realities of the urban setting; the slums and the big malls to enable the students to see the vast contrast of wealth. The students also learned to contextualise the Bible through Bible Studies, so that they may be able to develop Bible Studies on their own with the above perspective in mind. Three intensive Bible Studies focusing on the issues of Domestic Violence, Untouchability and Poverty and Wealth.