Six members of the INFEMIT Networking Team and one member of the newly created INFEMIT Board gathered this past June in St. Paul, Minnesota at the American Society of Missiology (ASM) Conference. This year’s conference was a time for missionaries, professors, theologians, ethnodoxologists, filmmakers, and others to join together to discuss the contextualization of the Gospel in the contemporary world.
The INFEMIT team members were not only able to enjoy the innovative sessions and vibrant dialogues alongside fellow conference attendees, but were also invited to host a panel on the work that INFEMIT does around the world. INFEMIT’s claim that “all theologies are contextual theologies” has gained a hearing among scholars, and the work that INFEMIT is doing has proved to be, not just exotic theologies relevant to specific contexts, but ideas and practices that are essential to the health, authenticity, and effectiveness of the church’s global mission.
Ruth Padilla DeBorst began the panel with stories from El Salvador about how a theological curriculum created by the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies (CETI) is changing the lives of local pastors, church leaders and professionals from several walks of life. Through focusing on the aspects of family, society, church and work, CETI participants are able to develop a “theology for life,” that doesn’t simply leave theology at the door of the church, but is interwoven into all parts of daily living.
Benhardt Quarshie spoke about how his own school of higher learning, the Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture (ACI), is contributing to the formation of African Christian theology. Ben taught about the ways that African Christians are engaging their cultures in the light of the Gospel, and drew lessons that the church in the Global North can learn from sisters and brothers in the South.
Las Newman joined the conversation remotely from his office in Kingston, Jamaica. Las’ presentation focused on the transmission of Christianity, from a religion of the wealthy class of slaveowners to the poor working class in Jamaica today. Accompanying that transfer, Las detailed the creative ownership that Jamaican Christians have taken with old expressions of faith, and discussed the application of these new forms in the social and political spheres.
The panel concluded with Paul Joshua, who urged listeners toward a mutuality among Christians from all parts of the world. With the shift in the majority of Christians from Europe and North America to the Majority World, Paul argues that there must be a recognition that all Christians equally share in the shaping and articulation of their faith. Paul calls on diverse bodies of believers to listen and teach each other what it means to follow Christ.
After the panel, several conference attendees stayed for questions and to connect with the INFEMIT Networking Team members. The INFEMIT Networking Team is grateful to the ASM conference coordinators for putting on such an encouraging event and for graciously hosting us for the weekend.
Please follow INFEMIT on Facebook or Twitter to receive updates regarding the release of the full papers that Ruth, Ben, Las, and Paul presented at the ASM conference.