Emergent Anglican women scholars from the majority world and indigenous women studying theology gathered on March 26 at the International Study Centre at Canterbury Cathedral for a week-long program of mentoring and strategising with the leaders of the Global Anglican Theological Academy (GATA)
GATA was one of the outcomes of the meeting of Anglican women theological educators organized by the office of Theological Education in the Anglican Communion (TEAC) in Canterbury, England, in 2009. Supported by TEAC, the GATA initiative takes seriously the fourth mark of mission endorsed by the Anglican Consultative Council - the transformation of unjust structures, and in particular, those that function within our own Church household.
The unacceptably low numbers of women of any age in leadership roles in theological education and in representative roles across the Commissions and official bodies of the Anglican Communion has long been of concern to the founders of GATA.
GATA seeks to nurture an increasing pool of highly qualified younger women from the majority world who are capable of taking their places as leaders of educational institutions and in representative bodies in the Anglican Communion by developing an intentional and focused program of professional mentoring and forming a new community of intellectual theological discourse among the participants.
The eight emergent women leaders gathered were from New Zealand, Tonga, Malaysia, Philippines, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and South India. Five are ordained and three are laywomen. Two have received their doctoral degrees recently, five were doctoral students, and one was on a pathway toward post-graduate studies. They have expertise in Biblical studies, liturgics, education for indigenous peoples, public policy, and social activism against gender-based violence, discrimination, and injustice against God’s people.
The week-long gathering began with daily contextual Bible Study and participants experienced the rich worship services at the historic and magnificent Canterbury Cathedral. They were able to discuss in depth and to strategise ways of transforming the structural and attitudinal barriers to their roles as well qualified scholars and leaders able and very willing to serve as leaders for their Provincial churches and in the wider Communion.
Participants met with Archbishop Rowan Williams whose ongoing support of the GATA initiative has always been of profound importance. They were able to meet with senior staff of the Anglican Communion Office thereby gaining deeper insight into the expansive mission and work of that office. They were also treated to a rare glimpse inside the hallways of the House of Commons courtesy of the hospitality of Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. As an exemplary priestly role model, she offered wise words of encouragement and inspiration to the GATA group.
Participants agreed on an action plan to keep alive the extraordinary momentum established during the gathering.
Plans are in place to:
- establish a Facebook page to continue conversation and dialogue among the participants and with other Anglican women in theological education.
- produce a small volume on “Gender Based Violence”
- develop a proposal for a book intended to celebrate and affirm the lifelong teaching, researching, and publishing ministries of the GATA founders and other pioneers. GATA participants will be the authors.
The Revd Irene Ayallo (Kenya)
Ms Judy Berinai (Malaysia)
Ms Indileni Hilukiluah (Namibia)
Rev Lalitha Jayachitra (South India)
The Revd Gloria Mapangdol (Philippines)
The Revd Vongai Mkaronda (Zimbabwe)
Mrs Alaimaluloa Toetu’u-Tamihere (Tonga)
The Revd Mary Tororeiy (Kenya)
Prof. Kwok Pui Lan
Prof Esther Mombo
Dr Jenny Plane Te Paa (Chair)