by Hye Ran Kim-Cragg
WSCF AP Senior friend
November 24-28, 2008
Thirty-five women who are theological educators around the world gathered in Bossey Institute, near Geneva, during November 24-28, 2008. We worshipped, studied and discussed the role of mission as women educators, and celebrated the work of women in teaching ministry.
This group had a common goal, which was to share our (women’s) concerns and hopes for the Edinburgh 2010, the centennial celebration of Mission that is being prepared for the WCC. In order to achieve this goal, we paid attention to the following issues: To consider the change in terms of the role of women in mission and theological education since 1910; To identify key learnings which need to be affirmed and summarised again in reviewing the past century of Christian mission and women; To address urgent priority concerning the situation of women in church, mission, and theological education today.
There were excitements and thoughtful engagements among us. There were chaotic moments and frustrations as well. Overall, this group made an effort to bear a fruit from this event and I think we did: to produce a statement as a summary for our event and the future direction towards the Edinburgh 2010. The other fruit, I think, so valuable, was to have a network of women who are highly committed to feminist and theological education.
I want to note two more points as my final part of this report:
I believe that WSCF participants made a special effort to be fully present in this event. We were representing the organization and worked together with youthful spirit. Our worship was such a great example how women can work together as a team and how youth can play such an important role as leading a worship service. I was particularly pleased with our diversity in terms of our racial, linguistic and religious differences. And yet we were one united representing the WSCF. Indeed, our presence there was a vivid sign of what it means to be “Unity in Diversity.”
I also felt a strong presence of the participants from Asia. We as Asian are very much aware of the reality that the voices from Asia are often unheard or undermined in the international English dominant conference. To be honest, this conference was not an exception. However, I made a point that each one of us in the consultation needed to learn about “active listening,” while providing an equal opportunity to everyone in the group. Participants, since then, were able to attend to what women from Asia or Asian diasporas in North America had to say. Of course, our Asian sisters, including Hisako Kinukawa and Elizabeth Tapia, shared their wonderful and wise theological perspectives emerged from Asian and North American Asian particular contexts. Without these Asian women’s contribution, such critical issues as migration and poverty would not be explicitly discussed as a part of mission and theological education in the 21st century.
I want to thank the WSCF AP who recommended me to participate in this event, and all the IRO staffs, who worked so hard to make the voices of the WSCF heard in this important event.