A three day conference of international theologians has taken place – with the organisers in Jerusalem but the participants taking part via the internet.The intercontinental webinar of theologians from the global south was hosted from St George’s College and funded by the Saint Augustine's Foundation.
It was led by Bishop Graham Kings, Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion and Dr Muthuraj Swamy, Associate Professor in Theology & Religion in Pune, India.
Theologians from the Middle East, Nigeria, Myanmar, South Sudan, Egypt, Brazil and Tokyo were among those joining the link up. They had all prepared papers on reconciliation and mission which will go towards a book on that theme ahead of the next Lambeth Conference in 2020.
Bishop Graham said he was delighted with the way technology had facilitated the theological discussions: “I was impressed with the vitality of the webinar. The format worked very well indeed; we had a lot of fun and fellowship as well as banter –combined with serious discussion.“
Nine papers had been circulated by the theologians for reading in advance so the webinar was a chance to discuss the contents and then offer suggestions for improvements. Each presenter had 10 minutes to talk about their paper and there then ensued a 35 minute inclusive discussion. The theologians will now have a chance to finesse their papers before submitting them for publication.
The Co-Chair, Dr Muthuraj Swamy said the webinar was extremely effective: “I wasn’t sure what to expect but it felt like it was the Anglican Communion connected on one screen! The discussions were very good and there were lots of constructive suggestions.”
One participant, the Bishop of Nzara in South Sudan, the Rt. Revd. Samuel Enosa Peni Tari, had gone to extra lengths to take part; to avoid connectivity problems he had travelled to Uganda in order to link up. The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, the Most Revd Suheil Dawani, was also impressed with the webinar and it gave him the idea of using the format to connect with his clergy in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
The conference was organised by the Mission Theology Project, a partnership founded by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Durham University and Church Mission Society two years ago. USPG joined the partnership in 2017. Its purpose is to raise up new 'Doctors of the Church' in the global South to write, network, publish and engage with theologians in the global North, to renew the worldwide Church and influence society. Bishop Graham: “Through the webinar the raising up of new doctors of the church was happening before my eyes. It was a chance for them to network and to get their work read in the global north. There was huge peer group learning going on with a combination of emerging theologians as well as esteemed Professors of theology."
Here is the full list of participants: