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African women theological educators call for 'a community of equals' in the church

Posted on: March 3, 1998 2:47 PM
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African Anglican women theological educators appealed for a series of actions by both the church and its theological education programmes that would demonstrate greater concern for justice for women during meetings held in Zimbabwe this month.

Delegates from Ghana, Kenya Lesotho, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe attended the ANITEPAM-sponsored consultation, 'Nurturing Our Calling_Strengthening Our Ministry,' in Harare.

The women called for a review of the traditional theological curricula in Africa; the inclusion of women's studies programmes; greater emphasis on lay training, which is where most women find themselves at present; expanded opportunities for women educators to write and publish; and broadened representation of women on theological education boards and commissions.

Participants also looked beyond the boundaries of traditional theological education to embrace a broad role for women theological educators in African society. 'Women in theological education must be in solidarity with women in other areas of society to make claims and work for justice for women' their final communiqu‚ declared. Further, women 'must take courage to challenge aspects of traditional African culture and Church practices that are used to oppress them, and to risk making changes for equal opportunities for women and men.'

The Revd Mabel Katahwaire, member of ANITEPAM's Governing Council who coordinated the gathering, told the Council that 'the women took the consultation very seriously. They went back determined to support one another.'

While delegates spoke of causing 'discomfort' in the church to encourage transformation on women's issues, they also observed that 'we must remember that we too are part of the Church, the Body of Christ Jesus! Thus the work we have set out for ourselves is and will be part of our ministries for the love of the Church and in faithfulness to Jesus Christ.

'We commit ourselves,' they concluded, 'to a transformational church, a community of equals in the church of women and men and one which models God's peace, love and justice for the whole world.'