Professor Bonnie MILLER-MCLEMORE
Practical Theology as
an International Theological Movement
Past, Present, and Future
Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore is E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor Emerita of Religion, Psychology, and Culture at the Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion of Vanderbilt University. A Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology and an author, co-author, and editor of over sixteen books as well as over a hundred chapters and articles, including “‘A Tale of Two Cities’: The Evolution of the International Academy of Practical Theology.” HTS Teologiese Studies/ Theological Studies 73, no. 4 (2017). Her recent publications include The Wiley Blackwell Reader in Practical Theology (Wiley-Blackwell 2019); Conundrums in Practical Theology (Brill 2016); Christian Practical Wisdom: What It Is, Why It Matters (Eerdmans 2016); Christian Theology in Practice: Discovering a Discipline (Eerdmans 2012); and The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology (Wiley-Blackwell 2012). Her writing has been translated into several languages, including Korean, Portuguese, and Swedish. She is currently working on a book for a wide audience on vocation, The Underside of Living Out Our Callings (Oxford University Press).
A nationally and internationally recognized leader in pastoral and practical theologies and in women and childhood studies, she has served as president of the International Academy of Practical Theology, president of the Association of Practical Theology, and co-founder and co-chair of two programme units of the American Academy of Religion, Practical Theology and Childhood Studies in Religion. In addition to her Luce Fellowship, she has also received grants from the Louisville Institute, the Collegeville Institute, the Lilly Endowment Foundation, the Association of Theological Schools, the Wabash Center on Teaching and Learning in Religion and Theology, and Vanderbilt University for the study of families, children, and religion; research on practical theology; research on public theology; and exploration of teaching and vocation. Ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), she served as an associate pastor, chaplain, and pastoral counselor while completing her M.A. and Ph.D. at University of Chicago in 1986.
Professor Simon Shui-Man KWAN
Doing Practical Theology with Asian Resources
Simon Shui-Man KWAN is one of the founders of the Asia Academy of Practical Theology (Hong Kong) and its current president. He is professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and associate director of the Divinity School of Chung Chi College CUHK, as well as head of Graduate Division of Theology CUHK. He has authored over 80 articles and book chapters, and authored, co-authored, and edited 7 books. His recent works include Postcolonial Resistance and Asian Theology (Routledge 2014), Negotiating a Presence-Centred Christian Counselling: Towards a Theologically Informed and Culturally Sensitive Approach (CSP 2016), Asian Spiritualities and Social Transformation (Springer, Forthcoming).
Most recently, he wrote a number of papers that are pertinent to the subject he will present at the conference: “Negotiating the Meaning of Spirituality in Holistic Health Care from a Chinese Perspective.” Practical Theology 11, no. 1 (January 2018); “Practical Theologies in Chinese Speaking Societies—A Cross-Cultural Consideration.” International Journal of Practical Theology 24, no. 2 (2020); “Decolonizing ‘Protestant’ Death Rituals for the Chinese Bereaved: Negotiating a Resistance that is Contextually Relevant.” International Journal of Practical Theology 25, no. 2 (2021); and, “Is Hospitality Enough for Interfaith Spiritual Care by Christians?” Practical Theology 15, no. 3 (2022).
An Asian and local leader in contextual theologies and practical theologies, Professor KWAN is former programme coordinator and chair of the Programme For Theology and Cultures in Asia, former co-dean of the Institute for Advanced Study in Asian Cultures and Theologies, local preacher of the Methodist Church, registered social worker, counselor in private practice. With a dissertation in the area of Asia Theologies, he earned his Ph.D. from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1999.
Rethinking Liberation through a Micro-Political Theology for Asians
Rev. Yin-An CHEN
Lecturer in Theology and Anglicanism,
Trinity School for Christian Mission in the Episcopal Diocese of Taiwan
What is the limitation of the theological concept of liberation? Following Latin American Liberation Theology, the trend in developing political theologies in Asia has been toward fighting against structural oppressions and striving for political and economic liberation. However, the journey toward democracy and freedom in Taiwan has shown that narrowly focusing on structural changes is not ‘enough’—it is important that there is understanding that the dynamic of power and dominance is deployed flexibly to create new power relationships.
In this article, I will bring Michel Foucault’s theory of power relationships into the conversation with the concept of liberation (which is strongly connected with the Marxist idea of revolution and widely applied in Asian theology, against the political oppression of dictatorship). I will then argue how liberation-orientated theologies fail to recognise the bond between social structures and individuals in the way that they construct sexuality, desire and the body of the self. Based on this, I will explain why political change may bring about temporary liberation but cannot maintain it.
Finally, I will present my proposal for a Micro-Political Theology that will acknowledge that structural oppression cannot function by itself or in itself without power deployments working on an individual’s sexuality, desire and body. In this light, the agenda of political ‘liberation’ must be re-examined in such a way that the construction of the self in sexuality, desire and the body is considered. This new movement of political resistance—embraced and enacted by the Church—should pay more attention to the strategies of transgressing social order and discontinuing social structures. The Church should become a hub for vigilant discernment of the ways in which individuals are constructed by power relationships and for creative orientation of the ways of political resistance.
Rev’d Yin-An Chen
Taiwanese. He is ordained in the Church of England. He is also a lecturer in Theology and Anglicanism at the Trinity School for Christian Mission in the Episcopal Diocese of Taiwan. His academic background is in cultural studies and anthropology and he has a MA in theology from Durham and MPhil from Kent. His MPhil dissertation is published as Toward a Micro-Political Theology: A Dialogue between Michel Foucault and Liberation Theologies (Pickwick, 2022).
Practical Theology and Christian Education in the Thai Context
Dr. Chananporn Oan JAISAODEE
Assistant to the Dean, Academic Affairs,
McGilvary College of Divinity (MCD), Payap University
Faculty Member, McGilvary College of Divinity (MCD), Payap University
While Practical theology has been defined in various ways, the author argues that practical theology is not merely the study of theology for the purpose of being useful or applicable. Practical theology is a form of theological reflection and interpretation that is grounded in the life of the church in exploring and shaping theories and practices that aim for social transformation. Without a doubt, practical theology is inherently interdisciplinary, bringing theology into conversation with other fields. It is an area or discipline of theology whose subject matter is Christian practice and whose purpose is to bring which theological criteria to bear on contemporary situations and realms of individual and social action.
Practical theological approach takes place when people in the faith community are involved in social issues, reflect on the specific issues to discern what God wants them to do in their particular context, and then demonstrate concrete responses to the situations. As a Thai woman, a Christian, and an educator who grew up in Thai society, which is still deeply-rooted in patriarchal culture, the writer has a passion to advocate for Thai women and to strengthen Thai Christian women in their spiritual formation.
The term “spiritual formation,” used in this paper refers to Christian spiritual formation. The author claims that spiritual formation is always connected to the lives of people and the community they are a part. Therefore, the church must provide relevant teachings that make sense and connect with real life situations as well as provide the opportunity for learners to explore openly and freely their questions and discuss the teaching of the church and the meaning of Christian faith for their personal lives and their participation in the society.
Viewing Christian Education as a form of spiritual formation encourages the church to provide teaching or curriculum that helps people become sensitive to and cooperative with the Holy Spirit at work in their lives and to discern the good news they are called to share, as followers of Christ, in their own time and place. Transforming spiritual formation for Thai Christian women, therefore, involves not only empowering women in their struggles, enabling them to share their life stories, and assisting them to deepen their relationship with God, but also discovering some possible ways to help transform gender practices in Thai society and church community.
Dr. Chananporn or Oan Jaisaodee is the assistant to the Dean for Academic Affairs and a full-time faculty member at McGilvary College of Divinity (MCD), Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She teaches courses in the area of Christian Education and its related subjects. She received her theological education from both Thailand and the U.S. In 1997, she got Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Bachelor of Theology (B.A. B.Th.) and in 2006, she got Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from the McGilvary College of Divinity from Payap University. She also received Master of Arts in Christian Education (M.A.C.E.) from Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education (Union-PSCE) in Richmond, Virginia in 2001 and Master of Arts in Theological Studies (M.A.T.S.) from Princeton Seminary in 2008. Oan earned her Ph.D. in Practical Theology with an emphasis on Christian Education from Princeton Theological Seminary (U.S.A.) in 2013.
Besides teaching at MCD, Oan is an ordained minister, serving at a local church in Chiang Mai, called Nongbuasam church. She also serves as a member of Christian Education Committee of the first district of the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT) and a member of Board of Trustees of the Association for Theological Education in Southeast Asia (ATESEA).
Engaging the Creator's Concern on Global Climate Change and the Humanitarian Action of Local Missionaries for the Vietnamese Floating Communities, Climate Refugees
Rev. Hanna HYUN
Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary, Seoul
In the twenty-first century, religious action workers connect with local communities to rebuild their lives and means of livelihood. Vietnam's Mekong Delta is one of the world's most agriculturally productive regions, and its 18 million inhabitants are among the most vulnerable to climate change. The consequences of climate change and the aftermath of natural disasters have wreaked havoc on the lives and livelihoods of local residents over the past decade, driving around 1.7 million people to abandon its vast fields. From God's perspective, the world is suffering and in peril due to the disruption of equilibrium, which could lead to the destruction of Vietnamese communities. Hence, fostering sustainability and resilience among climate refugees in Vietnam is a significant local mission objective. According to research conducted in Vietnam, sea level rise has already had significant effects, including an increase in the unpredictability and severity of coastal problems such as land loss, flooding of low-lying coastal areas, and accelerated coastal erosion, all of which have direct effects on the coastal population. Moreover, the inhabitants of the province bordering Cambodia and Vietnam, Mekong basen, are especially vulnerable due to the region's high poverty rate and agriculturally dependent population. Hence, this research analyzes local-level responses and investigates the implications of climate change from the perspective of ecological theology, which provides a humane response to climate change-related issues. In conclusion, the author offers ways for local missionaries in Vietnam to interact with climate refugees, eliminate inequity resulting from sex/human trafficking and climate-related migration, and improve the social environment from an environmental justice standpoint.
Faith and Spirituality among Hong Kong’s Young Adult Christians
Miss Alison Kar-Yan HUI
Bethel Ray Bakke Centre for Urban Transformation, Bethel Bible Seminary
Understanding the state of faith and spirituality of believers give us crucial reflection on how Christians experience faith and understand the barriers and facilitators to their spiritual growth. This study began with an online quantitative survey done in October 2021 among Hong Kong Christians, which found that believers of age 18-29 had generally lower self-reported scores in faith items and spirituality scales. In order to better understand Christians of this age group, this study adopted a semi-structured interview approach and interviewed 15 Christians who are aged 18-29 and regular church attendees. These in-depth interviews covered questions of their faith journey including how they came to Christ, experience and factors that enabled their spiritual growth and also barriers that they face in faith. All interviews were recorded, transcribed, coded and themes emerged from the results and analysis. Most of the interviewees came to know God through their families or in school. The key factors that enabled their spiritual growth are those that help them remember God in their everyday life, which include remembering past significantly events that they have experienced God’s work and faithfulness, their personal reflection and dialogue with other people on faith, Christian social media posts, bible and sermon teaching, and Christian activities outside of church setting that allowed them to see different manifestations of faith. Barriers to their spiritual growth include laziness, being busy in life, entertainment, sin, mainstream culture, lack of spiritual support, burn out from serving, doubts towards church and God, which these factors make them gradually forget about God or did not put God in the first place. These results point to the reflective nature of young Christians as they are longing for answers and meanings in their exploration in life. With the results gathered, focus groups were conducted among youth pastors, counsellors and young Christians to triangulate, reflect and discuss on the findings. Participants noted the importance of renewing ways of ministering to youth after the social movement and pandemic in Hong Kong. One on one spiritual mentoring and organically formed peer faith groups are suggested to provide trusted walks with young Christians as they experience God and grow in faith. Focus group participants also reckoned that churches should drop their focus on attendance but truly empower young Christians by building and reimagining church with them.
Miss Hui Kar Yan Alison is the Research Co-ordinator of the Ray Bakke Centre for Urban Transformation at Bethel Bible Seminary. She has led several faith-based research projects at the Centre, including studies that look into “Churched and Dechurched in Hong Kong”.
An Intercultural Interpretation of Integral Human Development in a Chinese Cultural Context: Implications to Spirituality of Ageing
Dr. Christine Tin-Chi LAI
Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge
Ageing is always being perceived as despair, lost and frailty in our culture. However, ageing can also be seen as wisdom and growth when tapping into our rich cultural resources and spirituality. By focusing on the intercultural perspectives on spirituality and integral ageing, one could view ageing as a journey progressing towards the pursuit of ultimate meaning of life and transcendence. The present paper adopts the concept of “integral human development” advocated by Pope Francis and Catholic social teaching to study these issues in an intercultural context of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is moving to an ageing population as the population has undergone an ageing trend since the early 2000s, and the proportion of people aged 65 and above is projected to rise to 32 percent by 2041 and consequently the median age of the population will increase to 51.8 percent as reported in the Legislative Council of 2015. That is to say, one-third of the population will become older people by 2041. At the same time, Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city in China with both strong Chinese and international mixing of culture. This offers a unique context for practical theology in which the western Christian faith interacts with Chinese cultural wisdom traditions.
Many Christians living in a dynamic and international context of Hong Kong are under the influence of Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism. The traditional Confucian and Buddhist values of individual and familial support to the aged are still dominant and important. They have different understanding of ageing accompanied by challenges of sickness and death. The Christian communities have been trying to address the needs of elderly. The gap of developing a deeper level of spiritual understanding of the needs of this ageing population with a more integral human development for the communities becomes more obvious.
Pope Francis advocates a new approach to look at life, placing humanity in relationship to society, nature and God. Through the intercultural lens of Chinese wisdom cultural tradition, the understanding of Pope Francis’s teaching of “integral human development” could be broadened and deepened which, in turn, helps provide a conceptual framework of exploring the spirituality of ageing in the Chinese context. Under this intercultural interpretative framework, the paper will also demonstrate how interculturality may present a new perspective into the study of spirituality of ageing.
Dr Christine Lai is a scholar-in-practice and practical theologian integrating theology, work-life experience and spirituality. She is concurrently a Research Associate at Cambridge Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology (MBIT) and HK Bioethics Resource Centre, Guest Professor on Spirituality at Hong Kong Holy Spirit Seminary College of Theology and Philosophy, Co-supervisor of Professional Doctorate of practical theology students at Anglia Ruskin University and Wesley house, Spiritual advisor and Integral care and wellness consultant at Caritas HK and founder of Management of Heart & Associates Consultancy.
Dr Lai’s first Doctorate of Business Administration at HK Polytechnic University was on “Social Capital, Interpersonal and Organizational Trust” and her second Professional Doctorate of Practical Theology at Anglia Ruskin University under Cambridge Theology Federation was “Midlife transformation of Christian professionals in HK, evolving a spiritual practice model.” Her current research is on “Spirituality of Ageing and Integral Human Development: an intercultural approach” adopting the Papal teaching of “Integral Human Development” and had been applied at the 8th Bioethics Conference on “Spiritual care for ageing well and dying well: a Catholic spiritual response” in June 2022.
Her key publications include: “Towards a Model of Spiritual Practice for the Spiritual Transformation of Midlife Christian professionals in Hong Kong” in Theology Annual Journal 41 (2021); “Spirituality of Ageing for Human Flourishing: Towards a New Paradigm of Economics” in Macau Ricci Institute Journal, MRIJ 7 (2021). Her key conference presentations include: “Elderly Care from the Chinese “Yuan Rong” 圓融 (Integral) perspective” organized by Beijing Yale Center; “Daoism and Integral human development” at 8th UNESCO Forum on Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion; “Spiritual Practice Model: Transformation of midlife Christian professionals in Hong Kong” organized by Religion and Culture Department, HK Chinese University and AAPT and “Spirituality of Integral Human Development for Ageing: an intercultural dimension” at Oxford McDonald Center of Theology Ageing Conference.
Dr Lai is the Vice President of HK Yuan Dao study society and partner with MBIT organizing webinars on the theme: “Living out traditions in contemporary world: an intercultural and interreligious approach”. She is also the International Vice President of Asia Academy of Practical Theology as well as board member of Lifeinhering NGO advocating Satir model on end-of-life.
Decolonizing Seminary Curriculum: Implication for Philippine Practical Theology
Dr. Victor R. AGUILAN
Silliman University Divinity School
One factor that contributed to acceptance and conversion of the indigenous population to Christianity was there recruitment and development of native pastors and religious teachers. However these native clergy and religious educators became instrument of Westernization. Missionaries established Bible Schools and Seminaries. These institutions were replicas of what they have in the West. These seminaries shaped and formed pastors and theologians in the image of white missionaries. The legacy of empire continues to shape how knowledge is produced, circulated and reproduced by the theological institutions.
With the rise of nationalism and liberation theology, Philippine Seminaries and Filipino theologians have attempted to critically evaluate Western theology. Silliman Divinity School has made such attempt. We recognize our captivity to Western theological methods, sources and assumptions. SUDS continues to face the challenge of revising and designing a theological curriculum that criticizes the colonial legacy embedded in current curriculum. It is not enough just to include academic publications from Filipino and Asian thinkers on course reading lists. It also calls for us to go beyond that, however, to examine all our teaching practices and our syllabi and ask questions how the learning could be useful to the life and ministry of the churches.
The research will attempt to present a critical reflection on the theological curricula. This involves reflecting on the content and delivery of our modules, identifying how they are shaped by that problematic legacy of colonialism, and finding ways forward that move beyond it. This paper will explore the importance of decolonizing theological education in the Philippines, especially in the Seminary that was established during American colonialism, by engaging in an expressly postcolonial and decolonial approach. After examining the coloniality in curriculum, the paper will argue for new methods and sources for developing a postcolonial seminary curiculla. This will include: (1) reappropriation traditional and indigenous religious practices (2) critical appreciation of “folk” Christian practices and (3) appropriation of the experiences of the people’s struggles against colonialism and neocolonialism
A full-time faculty member of the Silliman University Divinity School and the Department of Philosophy since 1993, Victor Aguilan teaches courses in Christian Ethics, Philippine Church History, and Philosophy of Religion. He is also the Coordinator of the Graduate Studies Program of the Divinity School. He has a Master of Divinity from the Silliman University, a Master of Theology in Church History and a doctor of theology in Social Ethics from the Southeast Asia Graduate School of Theology (SEAGST), a consortium of Protestant Seminaries in Asia. He is the external-officer of the Silliman University Faculty Association (SUFA). Dr. Aguilan and his wife, Evangeline, have a son and a daughter.
The Impossibility of Doing Theology from the Margins
Dr. Levi CHECKETTS
Hong Kong Baptist University
As theology has developed its own Asian tradition, the perspectives of different cultural mores and ideas have emerged as challenges to the legacy of Euro-centrism. Korean theology, to take one example, has had marked impacts, both introducing the notion of minjung, the people, and the sense of han, “suffering,” as major elements of theological discourse even among western theologians.
As Kwok Pui Lan warns, however, Asian theology must itself remain open to non-dominant perspectives. Just as minjung theology often ignored the voices of Korean women, Korean feminist theology must also ask where its own blind spots are. We must continue to ask what it means to attend to the voices of the worst off. Gayatri Spivak’s provocative question, “Can the subaltern speak?” remains poignant for contextual liberation theologies. Much recent Asian theological scholarship is promising in this vein: Mary Yuen Mee-Yin’s study of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong, Nancy Tan Nam Hoon’s study of Hong Kong sex workers, and Sharon Bong’s study of same-sex couples in Malaysia and Singapore offer important voices from the margins which challenge readers to engage theology from the margins.
These are highly promising avenues, but they reveal a further complication: to what extent do such studies articulate the perspective of the persons studied? Each articulation of the voices of the marginalized is carried out by advocates, theologians who must interpret and present the voices they are trying to lift up. But the process of “translation,” as Jacques Derrida points out, is inherently violent, claiming one reading as authentic against others. Such violence is well-known in Asian theology—Korean feminist theology (to return to the example) appears because male theologians spoke too strongly of the Korean perspective, which they articulated as corrective to the universalisms of European theology.
My conclusion is that while the violence of interpretation is necessary, the praxis entailed in liberation theology requires us to continually reassess our perspectives, to be unsatisfied with our conclusions and to seek out the voices of the margins. As Nancy Tan asks Hong Kong sex workers to offer their own understandings of Biblical texts, we should continually ask those on the margins to provide their own readings which challenge our views. But as praxis, this must be repeated, knowing we never fully achieve the conversion we seek, but hoping that we get closer to understanding.
Levi Checketts is an Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Hong Kong Baptist University and Associate Director of the Centre for Applied Ethics. He works on the intersection of economics and new technologies from a critical theoretical perspective. He recently republished Carl Mitcham and Jim Grote’s 1984 Theology and Technology and is finishing a book on Artificial Intelligence and the Option for the Poor.
New Expressions of Churches in Hong Kong
Prof. Natalie CHAN
Bethel Bible Seminary
According to the Hong Kong Church Survey 2019 by the Hong Kong Church Renewal Movement, only 18 new Chinese churches were established during the year 2014-2019. Other than church planting by denominations and local churches, new expressions of churches have emerged in the past 5 years. In order to better understand these churches, Ray Bakke Centre conducted a qualitative study in February and March 2021 and interviewed 11 churches that were newly set up in the past 5 years (not church plants from denomination or local churches). We have also interviewed two networks for new churches, to understand how they train and connect new churches and their leaders. Results of the study illustrate the common characteristics of these new forms of churches. These new forms of churches stress on reflecting on the true essence of church including the concept of church without walls. This can be seen through the flexibility in place of gatherings and being intentional in maintaining small and simple structure. Three of the churches we interviewed demonstrated some unique background for reflection and learning. Aspire Church illustrated the model of a traditional church planting a new church by sending leaders out to entirely start anew to serve and outreach specifically to young adults. The birth and growth of Aspire Church captures the walks of new and traditional forms of churches. Secondly, the new marketplace church Simplychurch is the fruit of many years of marketplace ministry, finally established in a new church form in 2021. They meet everyday during lunch time or after work to form different relationships and groups, equip disciple leaders and also send out teams to serve the community, multiply in groups, extend their faith influence and break through the traditional ways of ministries. Lastly, Roundtable Church demonstrates the model of missional communities. Some of their leaders moved into the same building or in the same districts (including Sham Shui Po, Shatin, Fortress Hill etc.), where they live, worship and serve in the neighborhood and communities together. These new expressions of churches give us crucial spiritual reflection and inspiration on the development of churches in our city today. Their works are very encouraging and a great reference to more possibilities and imagination and help us understand God’s heart for the city.
Prof. Natalie Chan is a Professor at Bethel Bible Seminary and mentors a number of doctoral students. Her research and teaching revolves around transformational leadership and city movements. She is also the director of the Ray Bakke Centre for Urban Transformation.
Barriers and Gateways to the Development of Practical Theology in Taiwanese Theological Education: Taiwan Graduate School of Theology as a Case Study
Prof. Jonathan A. SEITZ
Practical Associate Professor
Taiwan Graduate School of Theology
Dr. Jui-Chi HU
Taiwan Graduate School of Theology
This essay begins by offering several definitions of practical theology, with the aim of articulating the history and development of the field as it relates to Taiwan. It uses Taiwan Graduate School of Theology (historically known as Taiwan Theological College and Seminary or 台神) as a case study. Like many schools, TGST historically had four general fields of study—history, theology, Bible and ministry. In the modern period, while core fields have developed healthily, practical theology has always struggled. As a cognate field, practical theology at TGST has cycled through several emphases: education, social work, and counseling. There have also been a mix of faculty in fields like homiletics or mission, or from sympathetic faculty in other fields.
This essay identifies several “barriers” to the growth of practical theology in theological education. In the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) candidates are likely to come to seminary older and then to spend year as evangelists 傳道, leaving them less time to study. A second barrier is the lack of specialized ministry development, with few ministerial placements with a focus on youth, education, or pastoral care. A third barrier is the challenge of prior academic study. In many fields of practical theology there is a related university-level curriculum that has prepared candidates (psychology or counseling; education; communication, speech, or theater). In Taiwan, students more often come from unrelated fields. Another barrier is the nature of international theological education programs, which are often culturally rooted in ethnocentric North American or European models of ministry. These schools often prize popular culture or their own contextual models of ministry and may not understand or be able to equip students from other cultures. Another barrier is that there are simply far fewer programs in practical theology than there are other fields. Finally, the type of candidates who are attracted to practical theology are often more mature and experienced and thus the most likely to be recruited by congregations, non-profits, agencies, and denominational leadership, translating to fewer years on the faculty. After an in-depth discussion of these issues, the paper concludes with a set of suggestions for ways to expand practical theology. It draws on the conference theme, hoping to locate “Asian resources” that could equip seminaries to prepare practical theologians for the church and theological education.
Jonathan A. Seitz is Practical Associate Professor at Taiwan Graduate School of Theology and a PCUSA Mission Co-Worker
Narratives and Peacebuilding in Hong Kong: The Cultivating Peace Project
Dr. Wai-Luen KWOK
Head and Associate Professor
Hong Kong Baptist University
*Dr. Martin C.K. CHUNG
Hong Kong Baptist University
*Dr. King-Lai WONG
Hong Kong Baptist University
*Mr. Shun-Shing WONG
Minister in Charge
C&MA Grace & Joy Church
Mr. Ka-Chun LAI
MA in Peace & Conflict Studies
University of Kent & the Philipps-Universität Marburg
Mr. Chun-Lam KONG
Hong Kong Baptist University
Mr. Tim-Lung PAU
Rachel Club, St. James’ Settlement
Dr. Veggy CHOI
Senior Co-Ordinator of Student and Alumni Ministry
Hong Kong Baptist University
After the social unrest of 2019, Hong Kong society is deeply divided and traumatized. The pandemic from 2020 to 2022 made the division between people not only in political sense but also division of persons in terms of physical isolation and emotional loneliness. In the difficulties, an ethos of losing hope and distress spreads across communities. Cultivating Peace is a theologically informed interdisciplinary project initiated by members of Hong Kong Baptist University, local church pastors and Christian NGO workers for rebuilding peace and hope in the post social movement and post pandemic Hong Kong.
Recognizing narrative is the major genre of evangelical message, the Cultivating Peace project explores a narrative practice of peacebuilding in Hong Kong. The narrative practice guides the project in the following ways:
1. Narratives in the Bible can be articulated as foundational metaphors for peacebuilding work. With the metaphor of Babel, the project team narrates the problem of losing hope and fear as saturation of narrative. Division, hopelessness, or power-cohesion becomes dominated grand narrative of the people. It saturates the lifeworld of the people. The metaphor deconstructs power narratives and false perception of peacebuilding as pacification. With the metaphor of Pentecost, it explains that a constructive and creative life relationship of the people is achieved by different, diverse, but mutual understandable and inclusive narratives. With the metaphors of the Ark and the Eschaton, they inform the importance of agency and the nature of hope in peace work.
2. Narrative practice enables people to express and acknowledge their inner suffering and anger. It also helps them to learn to be active listeners for building inner peace. More importantly, narrative practice helps people to gain capacity to discern and reflect on conflicts.
3. Narrative practice emphasizes the importance of the voices of marginalized groups and the primacy of their choices. Narratives in communal level peace work can empower groups, and position peace work as ministry of “being with” rather than a top-down “help”.
4. In a period that justice cannot be fully achieved, narrative practice records voices and stories of the suffered and the oppressed. With these stories, the intercession of Christians serves as witnesses and laments to mediate the painful memories with God’s salvation and justice. Besides the theological significance, the narratives are important for achieving restorative justice and reconciliation in the divided society.
Dr. Kwok Wai Luen, Head and Associate Professor, Department of Religion and Philosophy, Hong Kong Baptist University
* Dr. Martin C.K. Chung, Assistant Professor, Department of Government and International Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University
* Dr. Wong King Lai, Lecturer, Department of Social Work, Hong Kong Baptist University
* Mr. Wong Shun Shing, Minister in Charge, C&MA Grace & Joy Church
Mr. Lai Ka Chun, MA in Peace & Conflict Studies, University of Kent & the Philipps-Universität Marburg
Mr. Kong Chun Lam, Project Assistant, Department of Religion and Philosophy, Hong Kong Baptist University
Mr. Pau Tim Lung, Manager, Rachel Club, St. James’ Settlement
Dr. Veggy Choi, Senior Co-Ordinator of Student and Alumni Ministry, Chaplain’s Office, Hong Kong Baptist University
Building Bridges by Intercultural Communication: Promoting Intercultural Harmony for Peaceful Coexistence in Malaysia
Dr. Siaw-Fung CHONG
Seminari Theoloji Malaysia
Malaysia is a multiethnic and multireligious nation, where the Malays form the largest ethnic group (above 60 percent). As the Malays embrace Islam as their religion, the Malay-Muslims are the prominent ethnoreligious group who had significant social and political influence over the country. In recent years, intercultural tension in the Malaysian society intensified due to political rhetoric of some Malay-Muslim ethnoreligious proponents, who had advocated active efforts of Islamization—such as proselytization campaigns and assimilation of Islamic values into systems of public administration and education—implemented by public-funded agencies. The non-Muslim communities, including the Christians of various ethnic backgrounds, are having trouble engaging with the Malay-Muslim ethnoreligious proponents due to differences in opinions and expectations about socioeconomic development and nation-building.
In this paper, the intercultural challenges faced by the Malaysian Christians due to various Malay-Muslim ethnoreligious initiatives is discussed, bringing to light the need for engagement with the Malay-Muslims to seek empathy and establish understanding. It is proposed that God is the divine communicator who endorses communication between cultures, and that Christians are meant to be communicator of God’s goodness with people of all cultures. Thus, Malaysian Christians should play the role of peacemakers to promote and uphold intercultural harmony for peaceful coexistence in their efforts to engage the Malay-Muslim ethnoreligious proponents.
This paper presents intercultural communication as the vehicle to enable effective intercultural engagement between Malaysian Christians and the Malay-Muslims. The ideas of Samovar et al (2013) and Moreau et al (2014) on the subject of intercultural communication are examined in interaction with concepts of interreligious relations in intercultural theology (Wrogemann, 2019). It is suggested that Malaysian Christians should develop various aspects of intercultural competence to achieve success in intercultural communication through open and honest dialogues with the Malay-Muslims. In conclusion, this paper acknowledges that effective engagement is a multi-layer process, and proposes a multiple plenary intercultural engagement model to conduct effective intercultural dialogue and engagement with the Malay-Muslims to promote and uphold intercultural harmony for peaceful coexistence.
CHONG Siaw Fung is the current Principal of Seminari Theoloji Malaysia which is located in Seremban of the state of Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. He completed his undergraduate study in University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur in 1990 and later earned a Master of Education degree from the same university in 1998. From 1996 to 2014, he was working in the corporate sector in the industry of training and education, and human resource management before responding to God’s calling to go into theological education. While he was working, he completed his doctoral study and was conferred the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Human Resource Development by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia in 2008. In theological study, he received his Master of Divinity from Sabah Theological Seminary (2014) and pursue Master of Theology (Old Testament) in Princeton Theological Seminary, USA (2016). He is currently working on his doctorate in theology with AGST Alliance, Malaysia.
Toward Decolonizing Practical Theology in Asia: Finding the Right Methodological Fit to Explore the Faith Lives of Minority Christian Young Adults in Bali
Mrs. Kathryn GRAY
PhD Candidate of the Faculty of Religion and Theology
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
As a practical theologian and PhD candidate, my research project explores how minority Christian young adults in Bali construct their identities and form their faith amidst tensions between their traditional religious and family values and contemporary globalised culture. Despite efforts to contextualise Balinese Christianity following its western import in the 1930s, there are growing concerns that the present generation of Christian young adults are becoming increasingly disinterested in traditional liturgy and distancing themselves from aspects of Balinese contextual Christian elements (e.g., language, dress, music, architecture and art) of previous generations. Yet given the salience of religion as an identity marker in Indonesia, these young adults continue Christian rituals regardless of the extent to which they hold meaning or influence their faith formation.
The process of decolonizing Euro-Western research requires centring the concerns of the those who have suffered European colonisation and conducting ethical research that enables colonised Others to understand themselves and express their realities, value systems and ways of knowing from their own frames of reference (Chilisa 2020). As a work (in process) of practical theology which contextualises minority Christian young adult faith in Bali, a methodological framework that both enables the critical examination of Bali’s colonial and missiological histories whilst embodying Balinese relationality is essential (Smith, 2021; Wilson, 2008).
Going forward, I will briefly describe the current research project, including the influence of colonial and missiological histories on Bali’s contemporary socio-religious context. I will then situate the decolonizing process within a wider indigenous research paradigm before engaging with some of the key elements of and strategies for decolonizing research practices in the contemporary Balinese minority Christian context.
Kathryn Gray is a practical theologian and PhD Candidate of the Faculty of Religion and Theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. As an emerging scholar her research interests include practical and contextual theologies, young adult identity construction and faith formation in the majority two-thirds world and decolonizing processes. Kathryn received her MA in Transformational Leadership from York St. John University in 2018. She is a dual Irish/American national with nearly 20 years of inter-cultural life and ministry experience in Indonesia.
"Why is it Hard to form a Habit of Bible Reading?” : A Practical Theological Reflection on Daily Bible Reading
Dr. Sarah SHEA
Assistant Professor of Christian Education
Hong Kong Baptist Theological Seminary
Contemporary Christian practice of daily Bible reading expose a palpable discrepancy between belief and practice. While most Chinese Christians acknowledge the importance of Bible reading to their religious life, they rarely sustain a habit of daily Bible reading. Throughout the years, the majority of evangelical congregations in Hong Kong have been promoting the importance of daily Bible reading but have met with limited success. In this paper, the author attempts a practical theological reflection guided by the question, "Why is it hard to sustain a habit of daily Bible reading?” Starting with the author’s observation of Bible reading practices among Chinese evangelical communities, the reflection will be undertaken from two angles: firstly, with the insights of a survey study of Bible reading behavior in the United States of America, and secondly, in the light of the tradition of patristic interpretations of lectio divina. The aim of these critical conversations is to complexify our understanding of the practice of daily Bible reading to the extent that would allow us to differentiate patterns of forces and dynamics that shape it. This study intends to offer a reasoned dissent, showing that simply increasing contact with the biblical text is not sufficient to form a habit of Bible reading. The “diligence” required in daily Bible reading comes from a desire to encounter God who speaks to us in the sacred text.
Dr. Sarah Shea
Assistant Professor of Christian Education, Hong Kong Baptist Theological Seminary
Vice President, Asia Academy of Practical Theology (Hong Kong)
Practical Theology as Balanced Theology: Looking at the Method through the Concept of Balance behind Tai-Chi (太極)
Mr. Steven Shih-Hsien CHEN
Wycliffe Hall, the University of Oxford
This presentation aims to contribute to area number 2 (“Epistemologies”) and 4 (“Models/Paradigms”) of the conference. It argues that by looking through the lens of the concept of balance, a Chinese cultural characteristic, we can easier comprehend the nature of practical theology as well as the pros and cons of the pastoral cycle.
The presentation begins with a discussion of the epistemology of modern practical theology. It shows that the trend of "turn to practice" happened as a balancing voice to the previous over-emphasis on the context-free approach to building/using theories. However, this focus on practice was later tweaked back by some other practical theologians. This historical phenomenon makes the author perceive that at the core of practical theology lies a balance between theory and practice. This balance is necessary to avoid both contextual determinism/radical pragmatism and the dualism of the Enlightenment.
Next, the presentation demonstrates how the Chinese culture values the spirit of balance by drawing philosophical, political, and cultural evidence. A special focus will be given to the concept of Tai-Chi, an ancient Taoism image. With the help of this concept of balance, the presentation then proceeds to see how practical theology seeks a balance between different tensions (e.g., theory/practice, traditional belief/contemporary experience, description/prescription, working alone/cooperation, and theology/other disciplines).
Finally, the presentation uses the lens of balance to examine the pastoral cycle. The reason this method is chosen is for its population among Chinese Christians due to translated (Green, Ballard) and indigenous (董家驊) works which introduce this method. The presentation explains the criticism the pastoral cycle receives, such as the difficulty of having the second cycle, the suspicion of becoming applied theology thus underestimating the value of social science, and the falling into methodological atheism, etc. Arguably, these are also due to the imbalance between different voices within this method. Then, a typology of five approaches is presented to demonstrate how scholars address these critiques with their various versions of the pastoral cycle. The approaches are (1) intentional dialogue (Lau Branson, Lartey, Groome); (2) flexible sequence (Swinton, Mowat, Killen, de Beer); (3) frugal discernment (Green, Mckitterick); (4) enrichment of context (Leach, Mckitterick); (5) theologizing the method (Osmer, Lau Branson). The author argues that each approach is a force to promote balance for using the method. In the end, the presentation provides some suggestions for those who wish to use this method for future research.
Steven Chen (陳世賢, Chen Shih-Hsien). He has a social work background, finishing his MDiv at China Evangelical Seminary (Taipei) and ThM in practical theology at Princeton Theological Seminary (USA). Before he came to the University of Oxford as an MTh student, he served as a full-time minister at KangHua church in Taipei, Taiwan.
Decolonizing the Sea and the Peoples of the Sea in the Hebrew Bible
Dr. Arvin GOUW
PhD of Theology and Science
The University of Cambridge Faculty of Divinity
Coloniality is embedded in the Hebrew Bible narratives, including the narratives of the formation of Israel as a united monarchy and ethnic identity. There are several narratives that are blended into the metanarrative of the united monarchy of David which has been challenged by contemporary archaeological findings. As part of the creation of the identity of Israel, peoples of the sea, the Philistines and the Phoenicians, have been demonized. Unfortunately, this conflict myth is transferred from the peoples of the sea to the sea itself, leading to a demonization of the sea. This negative perspective of the sea is found in over half of references of the sea in the Hebrew Bible. As a person from Indonesia, the largest archipelago country in the world with over 16.000 islands, I sought to decolonize the sea and peoples of the sea, by introducing a postcolonial hermeneutics of the sea. The focus of this hermeneutical task is to highlight the various overlapping colonizing struggles between various city states, imperial powers of the ancient near east, and migrating peoples, which lead to the demonization of the sea. Philistines, Phoenicians, Israelites, and other peoples have been demonized by the label of the “people of the sea” in various contexts. Though the peoples signified by the label “people of the sea” changes over time, the negative stigma that is attached to the sea persists through the Hebrew Bible. By decolonizing, de-demonizing, and liberating the sea, I wish to provide Indonesians and other communities of the sea a better narrative by which we can have a more positive view of ourselves and the sea as we face critical problems of the sea ranging from piracy, pollution, to increasing sea levels due to climate change.
Arvin Gouw PhD is currently working in the field of theology and science at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Divinity. Prior to Cambridge, Arvin served as instructor at Stanford University and did his research fellowships on science and religion at Harvard’s Center for Science Religion and Culture, and Princeton Theological Seminary. Arvin received his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University, master’s degrees in philosophy from University of Pennsylvania, in theology from St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute of Theology, in endocrinology and neuroscience from UC Berkeley. His upcoming book is CRISPR Revolution in Science, Religion, and Ethics, co-edited with Ted Peters (Bloomsbury: ABC-CLIO 2023). His recent publications include Religious Transhumanism and Its Critics, edited with Brian Green and Ted Peters (Lexington 2022). His research has been published in academic journals including Zygon, Theology and Science.
From reflection to Action: Practical Theology in Interfaith and Intercultural Settings in Asia
Sr. Anne Antenita LAMBERT
KU Leuven Belgium
Many people regard religion as a source of peace. It is generally acknowledged that religion plays a significant role in promoting both peace and the pursuit of justice and human rights for all (Peyton and Jalongo 2008, Soni 2010, Kalin 2012, Longchar 2012, Sharma 2014, Bhutto & Munir 2016, Keskin 2016, Pilario 2019). However, in the modern world, religion is frequently viewed as the primary cause of war, violence, and terrorism. Various religious disputes exist in Asia’s multi-religious cultures, either between religions or within religious communities (Scheepers and Sterkens 2020, Neo 2021). In 2023, many countries or regions are experiencing war or facing post-war contexts (Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka). Hundreds of people die or are injured due to war and violence under the cover of religion. People are divided in the name of ethnicity, religion, and culture. Sri Lanka has various conflicts within its multi-ethnic and multi-religious backgrounds (Bopage 2010, Jayaseelan 2020). People from many religious beliefs have sanctioned violence. Besides, extremism has been invoked in the name of religion. People have become extremists in the name of religion, resulting in ethnic conflicts. Their religious intolerance includes pressure, harassment, imprisonment, and religious rigidity. However, there is inadequate literature to examine the ongoing struggle against religious extremism and how interfaith and intercultural dimensions of religion could work together to promote peace. In particular, there is nearly no ( or less) academic literature regarding peaceful living in multi-religious and ethnic. The interfaith and intercultural approach through the Justice, Peace, and Reconciliation project is necessary for promoting mutuality among cultures and religions in the context of Sri Lanka. Through the framework of Pope Francis’ emphasis on ‘no more war!’ in Fratelli Tutti, this paper examines interfaith and intercultural approaches towards a religious witnessing to the world for peaceful living in a specific way in the post-war context of Sri Lanka. The essay argues that a practical theological engagement of post-war cultures sheds light on the interconnected experiences and collaborative participation of people in the light of multi-religious religious faith practices.
Keywords: Practical theology, religion, peace, interfaith and intercultural settings, Asia, Sri Lanka
I am Sr. Anne Antenita Lambert SDS and I belong to Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine Saviour, also known as Salvatorian Sisters, from Sri Lanka. I did my professional studies in Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies (Theology) at Aquinas University College, Colombo, Sri Lanka (2011-2014). I recently finished the Research Master: Master of Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion at KU Leuven (2017-2019). I am currently a final year doctoral researcher at KU Leuven Belgium and working on the theme “CHILDREN’S SPIRITUALITY AND PEACE: A PRACTICAL THEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS IN THE POST-WAR CONTEXT OF SRI LANKA.
A Missiological Reconsideration of the Chinese Translation for ha'J'x; (translated as “sin” in English), Especially in Evangelism
Rev. Dr. Tsung-I HWANG
Adjunct PhD Supervisor
Oxford Centre for Mission Studies
All the Chinese versions of the Bible adopt the Chinese character (or word) 罪 (zuì) as the translation for the Hebrew noun, ha'J'x; (translated into ‘sin’ in English). However, Chinese nonbelievers without any Christian background or knowledge usually resist being called a sinner and so refuse to be converted. Therefore, this issue of translation has been criticized for decades of years in terms of this impediment of conversion in evangelism and missionary works among Chinese people.
In this paper, the author first reviews different opinions on the appropriateness of zuì for translating “sin” and its possible alternatives suggested by scholars and missionaries. And then the author evaluates four other possible alternatives to Chinese characters 過 (guò), 錯 (cuò), 愆 (qiān), 惡 (è), with zuì through an ongoing survey of Chinese Christians’ and non-Christians’ preferred translation for “sin” among these five Chinese terms.
The author argues: 1. The meanings of 罪 (zuì) in Chinese classics contains not only criminal aspects but also political, religious, and ethical aspects. 2. Due to the historical evolution of word meaning, the meaning of zuì has become even more closely associated with crime in contemporary Chinese. 3. Due to the contextual flexibility of word meaning, the Christian interpreted meaning of zuì can be adapted to by both contemporary Chinese Christians and non-Christians with the help of more relevant explanations and examples. 4. Since the core of the gospel in mission and the essence of conversion is the atonement offered by Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection, zuì turns out to be the best translation for the word “sin” because only zuì is a state “deserving of death penalty” among the five alternatives.
At last, the author concludes that the suggestion of the alternatives for zuì appear to be conducive to the conversion of Chinese people is essentially an obstacle to it from a missiological perspective.
Hwang Tsung-I, Rev., PhD, M.Div., D.D.S., M.H.A.: Expertise in systemic theology, apologetics, ethics, intercultural and inter-religious studies. A former faculty member at Central Taiwan Theological Seminary, a current adjunct PhD supervisor at OCMS, and the director of T. I. Hwang’s Cross Theology Classroom.
Where Do We Worship?
Reimagining Japanese Church Architecture with Respect to Sacred Space
Rev. Aaron PELOT
University of St. Andrews
The Church has been contextualized in many ways and in many times and places, including in its worship and the spaces which it occupies for worship. This contextualization is an attempt to meet people in their lived, everyday experiences, and special attention ought to be given to contextualization’s effect on how we think about and design worship spaces in non-Western contexts.
This paper reflects on Japanese church architecture by considering how the perception of classical Buddhist sacred spaces can help us think about ways to design and contextualize Christian sacred spaces, both the church and the surrounding grounds. By keeping both theological and practical considerations in mind and seeing the Church as the Body of Christ gathered, traditional Japanese Buddhist concepts like the tea room and temples show the values embodied in Japanese sacred spaces and allow us to reimagine how the typical church in Japan, a Western-influenced structural import, might be better expressed.
Edward A. Sövik offers a concrete architectural proposal to contextualize these traditional Japanese values within Japanese church architecture via tea room ideals and exposed natural construction materials. Sövik’s basic ideas need some adjustment to better capture the nuance of Japanese architecture and cultural concerns, but he identifies important elements which ought to be considered nonetheless. These ideals are viewed through cases of modern Anglican churches in Japan, and suggestions are given on how to adapt current Western-styled liturgical spaces from these and other examples.
Finally, some suggestions on design and layout of Japanese churches are offered regarding how to best achieve this proposed contextualization by carrying Sövik’s ideals beyond the confines of Western architecture and proposing the incorporation of more Japanese temple and shrine elements. The paper concludes with a suggested way forward that seeks to embrace each of these concerns and potential expressions to better contextualize Christian worship spaces in Japan.
Aaron Pelot is a current PhD student at the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics in St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews. His current research is focused on the inculturation of the Japanese Anglican prayer book and liturgy as broadly expressed in the Nippon Seikōkai (NSKK, the Anglican Church in Japan), with particular interest to the postwar period and how these affect modern Japanese approaches to liturgy and mission. He is an ordained deacon in the Reformed Episcopal Church (USA) and is a published contributor on reconciliation within North American Anglican divisions.
The Weapons of the Hong Kongese Aftermath: Experience and Appreciation of Humour is to Retrospect Memory of the Past Trauma and Jesus’s Crucifixion, to Grow and Become Resilient
Ms. Lacey Yee-Lam HO
Master Student of Research in Psychology
The University of Edinburgh
Objectives: This study sought to investigate what type of humour fits into the Hong Kong context and what Hong Kongese adapted to; to explore the role of humour in Hong Kong as a weapon of the weak to resist power, improve well-being, such as regain hope and humanity by collecting and analysing political satire comics; to reflect on the relationship between humour and theology, specifically to Hong Kong Christian community.
Design: Visual-grounded theory and grounded theory methodology were adopted.
Method: Twenty-five comics published in social media and newspapers were analysed; sixteen 18 to 65 years old Hong Kongese participated in the questionnaire.
Results: This study found that the humour manifested from the satirical comics in Hong Kong retrospect the traumatic memories of Hong Kongese. This sense of humour inspires people to grow and illustrates the resilience of Hong Kong style, which depends on how people process the humour. By theological reflection, it is to suggest that Jesus’s crucifixion is humour from God; God and Jesus as an artist represent a real satirical comic in front of all the humans, the world and devils as the audiences.
Conclusion: It proposes and encourages Hong Kongese to face and retrospect past traumatic events; the weapon of the weak is to learn to recognise and appreciate the humour of their vulnerability; this creates a turning point for growth, resilience, and seeing the always-existing God’s out-of-expectation plan.
Ho Yee Lam, Lacey is a master's student studying Master by Research in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh. Beforehand, she had studied Master of Art in Christian Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Lacey believes academic honesty means being loyal, sincere and passionate about her personal life story and academic career. She is fascinated by integrating positive psychology and theology to seek practical ways to improve the vulnerable lives of the Hong Kongese.
Reinventing Missional Space of the Church
Dr. Benjamin Wai-Bun WONG
As one of most densely populated cities in the world, Hong Kong has always faced an overwhelming demand of space. This research commences with the observation that space, being one of the greatest assets of the Protestant Church, has been considerably under-utilized particularly during weekdays in the city. This research examines the missional purpose of the church, and explores why and how certain local churches have reinvented their spaces, having shifted from a former inward-looking institutionalization toward a more outward-orientation in the spirit of the missional church.
Through qualitative research, ten churches / missional communities were selected for in-depth semi-structured interviews. The researcher employed the methodology of Constructivist Grounded Theory, coming in as an expert in church architecture and design, to co-construct with the interviewees. After going through three tiers of coding with the materials collected, the researcher builds a new theory called missional space. Missional space essentially opens up the local church and facilitates the church in realization of its mission. Missional space is well-designed, non- religious, highly accessible, sustainable, and is effective in building relationships with its users. Missional space engenders transformation of the congregation inside, impacts the local community outside of the church, and influences other churches and spiritual communities. Missional space is multipliable and expandable beyond the internal space of the local church, into the local community, the marketplace, people’s homes, as well as other realms of space.
In summary, this research endeavors to stimulate local churches in Hong Kong to rediscover their missio dei, and to transform the deeply-rooted culture of the church. This research inspires local churches to re-examine their God-given asset of space, to reinvent their existing under-utilized spaces into missional spaces, and to have greater effectiveness in realizing the mission of God, in response to the challenges of the Post-pandemic new normal.
Ben Wong, a graduate of architecture from Cornell University, struggled in the design industry for a number of years. During an economic downturn, he started his own firm and discovered a niche in designing churches. By the grace of God, he has participated in more than 300 church and related projects. He received the Ten Outstanding Designers’ Award in Hong Kong, and won over 70 international design awards. He has his Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University, and his doctorate degree from the Ray Bakke Centre for Urban Transformation. He is the author of Church . Space . Reinvention: Realization of 24 Innovative Missional Spaces, published in Hong Kong in 2022, and Missional Space: Reinventing Space Inside and Outside of the Church, published in the US in 2023. He continues to advocate his theory of missional space, and to advise churches and communities to transform their spaces into innovative missional spaces.
Decolonizing an Ableist Pedagogy through Theology of Disability and Ecofeminist Studies
Miss Isabella NOVSIMA
Drew University, NJ, USA
Intellectualism is one of the products of Global North academia. They work with white logocentric culture as the standard of productivity. This intellectualism is not only an ableist culture but also a colonial culture. Decolonial Feminism has been scrutinizing white feminism from the Global North by coining the term civilization feminism. Francoise Verges, in A Decolonial Feminism, mentioned that “The civilizing feminist mission is clear: European women are crusading against sexist discrimination and symbols of submission that persist outside of Western European societies; they present themselves as an army that protects their continent from the invasion of ideas, practices, and men and women threatening their gains.” With a similar method of decolonial feminism, I argue that western academia has been perpetuating an ableist pedagogy through its logocentric intellectualism.
As an Indonesian disability theologian, I contend that there is a tendency from the Global North Academia and activists to be the savior and the protector of People with disabilities in Indonesia. This results from the colonial thought of “the good pedagogy” through the logocentric standard and a belief that “the good product” of teaching and advocacy is only measured based on the Global North standard of life. Consequently, the Asian way of knowing has been deemed a lesser standard (or a submissive embodiment) in academia; therefore needs to be civilized by the Global North intellectualism. In this paper, I propose that the theology of disability with the intersection of decolonial ecofeminist studies shall be a robust resource toward a decolonial pedagogy. In decolonial pedagogy, intellectualism is questioned and even scrutinized. Instead of logocentric intellectualism, the interdependency of materiality is preferred as the pedagogy's method and purpose.
Isabella Novsima, PhD Student at Drew University, NJ, USA
A member of the Faculty Development Plan of Jakarta Theological Seminary, Indonesia
Research focuses on the Theology of Disabilities in its intersection with Feminism
Building a Mutually Transformative Community: Investigating the Spiritual Care for People with Severe Intellectual Disabilities in Hong Kong Church
Ms. Juliana Ching-Yin WONG
PhD Candidate in Practical Theology
University of Aberdeen
This paper is a practical theological study that aims to investigate the question, “What is the work of the Holy Spirit in the Lives of people with Severe Intellectual Disabilities (SID) who cannot express their faith in words?” The practical theological cycle is employed as the method of enquiry. The situation of spiritual care for people with SID under the evangelical model is first pre-reflectively described. The implicit assumption that the Holy Spirit would mysteriously enable people with SID to come to faith within the cognitive learning model is highlight as the factor leading to pastoral inactivism. Then, the situation is complexified by interviewing three pastors engaging in Christian education for people with SID in three Hong Kong evangelical churches. The findings show that in encountering the limitation of cognitive capacities of people with SID, the pastors shift the spiritual care model from verbal-rational based to experiential-relational oriented. However, an account of how their educative efforts relate to the work of the Holy Spirit remains unknown.
These empirical experiences are reflected theologically guided by the Christo-pneumatology of James Loder. In this framework, the work of the Holy Spirit on humanity is viewed through the Chalcedonian relationality between the Holy Spirit and the human spirit. By convictional knowing evoked by the Holy Spirit, the human spirit experience four-dimensional (the self, the world, the void and the Holy) redemptive transformation and live a Christomorphic lifestyle grounded in the dialectical loving relationality with God. The transformed human spirits are energised to live as perichoretic selves imaging after the life of the Triune God at the corporate level. This transformation is a fundamental structure of humanity, which can even be noticed in the infant stage when linguistic abilities are not yet developed. Therefore, it is argued that people with SID can experience redemptive transformation. Their spiritual growth can be witnessed by their turn from negation to loving actions towards God, themselves and others. Renewed spiritual care practices are to build mutually transformative communities among educators and learners across diverse cognitive abilities.
Moreover, data from the empirical pastoral world disclose that people with SID are deeply embedded in their families. Their selfhood is thus critically revised as self-in-family, which is different from the individual selfhood perceived in the Western world. Critical dialogue between Loder’s theology and Chinese Confucian familial culture is suggested to explore the spiritual transformation in the cultural dimension.
Juliana Ching Yin WONG is currently a PhD candidate in Practical Theology at the University of Aberdeen. She has completed the Master of Christian Studies at the China Graduate School of Theology and the Master of Theology at the Divinity School of Chung Chi College. She is one of the founding members of the Concern Group for Spiritual Care of People with Intellectual Disabilities. Her research interest is the spiritual life and spiritual care for people with special educational needs, particularly non-verbal populations such as people with severe intellectual disabilities. As a practising speech therapist in the private sector for more than 10 years, she is exposed to a vast population facing various cognitive challenges. She hopes to promote spiritual care practices that integrate well-grounded theology and special education principles fitting to the spiritual and learning needs of people with cognitive challenges.
Other-wise Preachers: Asian American Clergywomen who Dismantle Anti-Asian Racism in Cross-Cultural Ministry Settings
Ms. Hye Lim YOON
the University of Toronto, Canada
Although the new homiletical approaches have expanded the homiletical task to embrace the marginalized of our society, these other-oriented preaching methods, such as other-wise preaching by John McClure, have been developed without comprehensively considering the diverse dynamics between the preachers and their congregations. These approaches have failed to notice that the Other, namely, the marginalized, could be the one preaching, while the listeners sitting in the pews might be those who are at the center of the dominant culture. The identities of the preachers hitherto have mainly been assumed to be the opposite of the Other, which is not the case for preachers of minoritized identities who serve in settings outside of their own communities.
Most clergywomen of Asian descent in North America, in particular, serve in cross-cultural and cross-racial congregations because they are not readily accepted in predominantly Asian congregations. Meanwhile, the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes in North America revealed not only the anti-Asian sentiment but also how Asian women have been objectified and hypersexualized in the West. How, then, are these preachers preaching about their own marginalized identities and anti-Asian sentiments in cross-cultural ministry settings? How are they, as leaders with marginalized identities, crossing their cultural and ethnic boundaries to preach beyond the choir and lead their congregations to understand and dismantle anti-Asian racism? How are they preaching other-wise?
In this paper, I focus on the challenges and preaching methodologies of the other-wise preachers from the perspectives of Asian-American clergywomen who are serving in cross-cultural, cross-racial ministry settings. First, I name four common obstacles Asian-American clergywomen face in their ministry that make them other-wise preachers in their ministry settings. Then I explore the possibilities of other-wise preaching by other-wise preachers by analyzing the sermons preached by three Asian-American clergywomen on the Atlanta Spa Shootings and anti-Asian racism. Finally, I will build on the findings of the previous sections to suggest a potential other-wise preaching approach for other-wise preachers. I will argue that other-wise preaching should start by embracing and caring for the otherness within the preacher herself, through which the preacher builds bridges of solidarity and empowerment with her listeners.
HyeLim Yoon(she/her) is currently a Ph.D. student at Emmanuel College in the University of Toronto. She was born and raised in Cheongju, South Korea. After majoring in theology at Yonsei University, South Korea, HyeLim came to North America as a Fulbright scholarship recipient to continue her theological studies. She completed her Master of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary and is a certified candidate for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. Her doctoral project focuses on the “boundary-crossing preachers” who overcome and cross their cultural, racial, and identity boundaries to preach beyond the choir and initiate social changes.
Let the Asian Ghosts Haunt Us: Employing the Chinese Notion of Ghosts in Haunto-Postcolonial Preaching
Ms. Wing-Yi WONG
PhD Candidate of Homiletics
the University of Toronto, Canada
To avoid the pitfall of idol worshiping, many Chinese Christian communities have not engaged with Asian ghost stories in their theological reflection but simply regarded ghost stories and related practices as superstitious. While this paper is not promoting or endorsing any form of ghostly or ancestral worship, it seeks to reclaim the value of the Chinese cultural notion of ghosts in expanding the concept of hauntology, which, as I argue, is a powerful heuristic resource to postcolonial preaching. In Jacques Derrida’s hauntology, a spectre is what repeatedly comes and goes that haunts the present and the future with the lost or yet-to-be-attained reality. When applied to postcolonial thoughts, the haunting of the spectre is a demand posed to the living to acknowledge the troubling past shaped by colonialism and to create a better and more just world. Haunting, therefore, is a process of communal realization, epistemically and ontologically. While this connection between hauntology and postcolonialism is not new to the academy, I am the first to apply this connection to the study of homiletics.
In this paper, I will introduce my proposal of haunto-postcolonial preaching as a new preaching model (an ongoing project of my doctoral research). I suggest that, by preaching the haunting and ghostly passages in the Bible and interpreting them under the ghostly shadow of Christ, preachers can help the listeners to discover and reclaim the haunting stories in their cultures and social contexts and reimagine new possibilities for seeking justice and healing in a postcolonial world. As an Asian practical theologian rooted in Chinese culture, I will explore the Chinese notion of ghosts in this paper in relation to Derrida’s hauntology, a concept constructed with European perspectives. Through engaging with the Chinese ghostly language of returning, the Chinese ancestral perspective of living together with deceased members, and some of the Chinese ghost stories in the 17th-century classic 聊齋誌異 (Liaozhai Zhiyi or Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio), I argue that the notion of ghosts in Chinese culture aligns with the ventures of postcolonialism and that it is a valuable resource for haunto-postcolonial preaching.
Wing Yi Wong is a Ph.D. candidate of Homiletics at Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto, Canada. She holds a ThM degree concentrating in preaching from Princeton Theological Seminary, a MDiv degree from Alliance Bible Seminary in Hong Kong, and a BA in Anthropology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Holding a reserved faculty position in the department of practical theology at Alliance Bible Seminary, she is one of the first female homileticians in Hong Kong. Her dissertation is about using hauntology and trauma theories as resources to build a postcolonial preaching model. Essentially, she wants to explore how the preaching of God’s Word can bring healing to a traumatized community. Her research and teaching cover studies across disciplines, including postcolonial preaching, hauntology, trauma theory, narrative preaching, social justice, and diaspora studies. She is committed to theological education, preaching ministry and social justice, and she has 10+ years of intercultural preaching, teaching and ministry experience in Hong Kong and Canada.
Doing Practical Ecclesiology in Asia: Cases, Hopes, and Possibilities from the Philippines
Mr. Raphael YABUT
PhD Candidate in Theology and Education
Boston College, Boston, MA, USA
Practical ecclesiology is a more inductive approach in studying church that pays special attention to practices as an essential locus for theological reflection. In its commitment to practice, this way of doing ecclesiology recognizes the theological authority of local knowledges, reflects on ecclesial realities that are happening “on the ground,” and engages members of churches into reflection and social transformation. This is a shift from a “blueprint ecclesiology” that merely presents what a church should ideally become and into an ecclesiology that emphasizes what is really happening in churches today.
Studies done about local churches in the Philippines can serve as cases that demonstrate how practical ecclesiology has and can be done in the context of Asian realities. This paper will look at the works of Francisco Claver, Kathleen Nadeau, Ferdinand Dagmang, and Pascal Bazzell – all of whom have written about basic ecclesial communities in the Philippines in varying styles and methods. In reflecting on the experiences and practices that people share in their communities, they sought to articulate the communities’ understanding of church that is expressed in the ways in which church is lived out. Furthermore, their works speak to an ecclesiology that is praxis oriented in the way that they suggest further practices for an ecclesial community that does justice or in how they engage the community in deeper reflection on their realities.
Learning from how it has been done presents hopes and possibilities for honing a practical ecclesiology that responds to the needs and challenges of ecclesial communities in today’s socio-political climate. Informed by a theology of synodality and participatory action research, I argue for a practical ecclesiology that is more participatory and engages the people’s knowledge in a more expansive way – engaging members of church communities to listen to the Spirit together, capacitating marginalized voices to recognize their agency, and inviting further practices that not only changes church structures but also the larger society. Practical ecclesiology in Asia today can be reimagined as a way for people to learn with one another as a church journeying together in the work of peace and justice.
Raphael Yabut is a PhD Candidate in Theology and Education at Boston College, Boston, MA, USA. Before coming to Boston, he was teaching theology at Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. His research lies at the intersection of religious education and ecclesiology, and he’s interested in how people learn with one another in the context of local churches.
Self-Resiliency of Volcanic Eruption Survivor: An Endeavour to build Empowerment Ministry within Wounded Community
Rev. Indah SRIULINA
Master Student in Pastoral Studies
GRE, Fordham University, New York
An empowerment ministry is formed by embracing the cultural wisdom and resiliency of the survivors of a traumatic event. Therefore, this research describes the traumatic experiences of Gurukinayan survivors who witnessed the Sinabung eruption and have lived with its uncertainty for almost ten years. The research shows that the survivors of this event experience destruction towards their self-awareness, self-knowledge, and self-esteem. However, with this personality damage, I tried to acknowledge their resiliency through lamenting and healing memories.
As a wounded community, the Gurukinayan survivors struggle to build a better faith community within their church ministry—the separation and deconstruction of their well-being do not hinder their ability to remain with each other. Thus, in this paper, I offered a new perspective in order to obtain empowerment ministry by recognizing their ability as resilient survivors. Through their own ability, I offered a new notion of resiliency within the wounded community. Instead of using an inductive approach, this practice shows how doing practical theology should be contextual and relevant based on the contexts and capability of the church itself.
self-awareness, self-knowledge, self-esteem, resiliency, healing, memories, lamenting, empowerment, trauma.
 Gurukinayan is a village in Karo Land, a remote area in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Since 2013, all the villagers have dealt with the impact of a traumatic event such as Sinabungs’ mountain eruptions.
Rev. Indah Sriulina, M.Th., is now enrolled as a Master of Art in Pastoral Studies at the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GRE), Fordham University, New York. Besides becoming a full-time student, she works as a young pastor at Batak Karo Protestant Church in Kebayoran Lama, Jakarta, Indonesia.
Digital Theology in Asian Context: A Case Study in the Philippines
Rev. John Paul ARCENO
Digital Theologian and Missionary
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
A recent report from Asia Evangelical Alliance Newsletter November 2021 shows how digital technology impacts ministerial practice, faith, and spiritual growth in today’s culture. Likewise, through the efforts spearheaded by Singapore and Philippines Christian digital leaders, Indigitous—a digital ministry arm of Cru—was established just about 2014.
Nevertheless, digital theology in practice inevitably intersects with practical theology, dogmatics, science, philosophy, sociology, and ethics. Hence, the approach of this paper is integrative and contextual. Consequently, this paper encapsulates the fields of dogmatics, practical theology, ethics, missions, and evangelism. By doing so, the research offers a glimpse of the Asian digital theological perspective, more specifically from the cultural context of the Philippines.
There is growing scholarship in Digital Theology, religion, media culture, and digital society, and several sociological studies about utilizing digital technologies for ecclesiastical ministry, missions, and evangelism. Likewise, this growth is also seen in the Asian context—or at least, non-Western, on how these practices influence theology. In October 2022, at URPP Digital Religion(s) Conference at Monte Verita, digital theologian Jonas Kurlberg—a Global Network for Digital Theology pioneers—recognized this fast-growing reputation in the practice and scholarship of Asian Christianity.
The ongoing digital ministry practices in the Asian context are significant research areas. Although, for a narrower study of experience and resources, the paper focuses on a case study in the Philippines. Hence, the methodology uses a Filipino creation narrative structure. The framework parallels the biblical metanarrative of creation, corruption or digital Fall, diaspora, redemption, and flourishing life. These sections integrate a case study based on empirical research of digital missions, social media evangelism, media practices, and technological challenges. In conclusion, the paper recommends how Asian perspectives, faith practices, and theology shape digital culture.
John Paul Arceno (ThM in Historical and Theological Studies, Louisville, KY, 2020) is a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology student focusing on digital theology, media culture, and philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX. JP completed his Master of Divinity at Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary, Baguio City, in 2017. He has published book chapters, “Is Virtual Baptism a ‘Real’ Baptism?” (2020) and “Utopian Virtual Reality in Ready Player One: Responding with Real Hope and the Christian Teleos” (2021) under Vernon Press, Delaware, and a peer-reviewed journal article on Baptist history in the Philippines.
To Explore Generation Z’s Transformative Change Towards Social Justice through Their Social Entrepreneurship Experience from a Theological Lens
Ms. Leslie CHAN
Professional Doctoral Candidate in Practical Theology
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge Theological Federation
This is a preliminary snapshot of my ongoing research. The research objective is to study the learning journey, changes, and actions initiated with the Social Entrepreneurship experience of Generation Z from the perspective of social justice and its theological dimension. The context of the study will focus on the student participants of the Social Entrepreneurship School Education (SENSE) program.
The theological dimension of the SENSE participants’ social entrepreneurship experience is explored through the lens of Howard Thurman's religious experience. Their experiences connecting with marginalized individuals during the social entrepreneurship journey brought about transformative changes in their personal growth and development. Thurman emphasizes the importance of community and social engagement in achieving inner peace and transcendence. For Thurman, the spiritual life is not just a personal experience but is connected to life’s social and political dimensions. Thurman's concept of the "divine spark" emphasizes every person’s inherent value and dignity and the importance of serving others to connect with the divine.
The SENSE participants’ social entrepreneurship experience connects these theological dimensions. Through their learning journey, they have shown a commitment to serving others and promoting social justice, consistent with Thurman's concept of the divine spark. Their experience also shows a disruption of self-centeredness, leading to a deeper connection with others and a transformative change in their attitudes and behaviors.
In conclusion, the social entrepreneurship experience can be viewed as a manifestation of Thurman's theology of encountering the divine through service. By engaging with marginalized individuals and communities, the participants are able to connect with the divine and act ethically toward others.
Practical Theology on Economic Justice: Insights from Indonesian Churches’ Credit Unions
Mr. Hesron H. SIHOMBING
University of Denver/ Iliff School of Theology
There have been various theological and ethical critiques of structural evils manifested in capitalism and economic inequality in different contexts, including in the Asian context. Along with this reality, however, practical theology as an academic discipline has not paid enough attention to how economic injustice can be practically contested. The practical economic solutions especially ones that come as the church’s initiatives have not been much discussed.
This presentation will provide a practical theology of economic justice by pointing to the economic practices conducted by the church. The paper responds to one of Aloysius Pieris’ thesis “the Calvary of Asian poverty” to argue that some churches in Asia have long provided ample examples and relevant practices to empower church members and beyond who struggle with poverty and its structural causes. The examples given here will address the Sumatran context of Indonesia. In this island, two churches, Gereja Batak Karo Protestan (GBKP) and Gereja Kristen Protestan Simalungun (GKPS) have successfully founded financial institutions in the form of Credit Union to help marginalized communities. The GBKP church formed Credit Union (CU) and GKPS founded Credo Union Modification (CUM), both focusing on creating financial assistance to their members.
The first part of the presentation will explore the theological and practical aspects these Credit Union institutions bring into the public space as they empower the community to fight against what Kathryn Tanner calls “finance-dominated capitalism.” I will explore how both institutions have differences in their practices but share common attitude to the socio-theological task (diakonia) of the church for liberation. Through the practices of community organizing and empowerment, these financial institutions have helped farmers, small-business people, and other marginalized groups. The next part will reflect on how the existence and work of these Credit Union institutions may shape how practical theology is understood in the Asian context of struggles. An Asian practical theology may become relevant when one starts analyzing the social context and experiences of suffering and empowers marginalized community. Such practical theology calls the church to performs its task in the public space.
Hesron H. Sihombing is a doctoral student at University of Denver/Iliff School of Theology. A native of Indonesia, his work focuses on theology and ethics, postcolonial/decolonial theories and practices, engaging especially economic and environmental issues. His writings have appeared in the International Journal of Public Theology, Siwó: Revista de Teología/Revista de Estudios Socioreligiosos, CrossCurrents (forthcoming), among others.
Thirty Years after the Council:
The Catholic Church in the Philippines’ Reception of PCP II and Remembrance of Martial Law
Mr. Kenjie CORTEZ
Ateneo de Manila University
2021 was a momentous event for the Catholic Church in the Philippines as it commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II). Nonetheless, the following year was in no way inconsequential because it marked both thirty years since the promulgation of the Council’s Decrees and fifty years since the declaration of martial law. While one may find this a sheer coincidence, one must not forget that the country’s martial law experience profoundly shaped PCP II’s vision of renewal for the Catholic Church in the Philippines. Needless to say, in assessing the reception of PCP II, one must look into not only the Church’s advancements ad intra but also the issues ad extra – both of which affect the course of renewal in the Catholic Church in the Philippines. With the election of the dictator’s son and namesake to the presidency in 2022, one may wonder if the country’s collective memory of its recent past has anything to do with the extent of renewal in the Catholic Church in the Philippines and vice versa. If PCP II’s central ecclesiology – becoming a Church of the Poor – was influenced by the dark years of martial law and the socio-economic consequences those years engendered, how crucial would it be for the Church to work not only for renewal but also safeguard the nation’s history? Given this, an exposition of the possible sources of PCP II’s vision of a Church of the Poor will help both in strengthening the local Church’s resolve in advancing for renewal and preserving the country’s tragic but defining past.
Keywords: Catholic Church in the Philippines, PCP II, Church of the Poor, Martial Law, Post-Martial Law
Kenjie I. Cortez is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Systematic Theology at the Loyola School of Theology. He is also a lecturer at the Department of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. His research interests include Vatican II, PCP II, local Church, and Church of the Poor ecclesiology.
Tell Us a Story! Indigenous Storytelling as Practical Theology
Dr. Bendanglemla LONGKUMER
Senior Lecturer in Christian Theology and Ethics
Pacific Theological College, Suva, Fiji
Storytelling is an important technique to communicate with people. Since our birth, stories have been implanted over a thousand times. Stories are imparted through various mediums like books, movies, performances, and the like. It comes in a variety of forms and designs which can be called “genres”. For the indigenous people, storytelling is the social and cultural activity used to impart ethical lessons, social and cultural norms, and differences. The story surrounds the whole aspect of life in general and hence, theological interaction among culturally distinctive stories around these themes is not only possible but vital. We should be encouraged to explore how people’s stories, stories in the Christian Bible included, theologically interact with one another (Song, 2011).
While emphasizing the importance of roping in indigenous storytelling in the academic sphere, Seed Pihama reiterates that storying has much too important a role to play in our liberation and resurgence to be left in the margins. The magic held therein holds the keys to capturing the hearts of our future generations (Archibald, 2019). Telling stories and listening to them, then, is not an option; it is a necessity. It is not a choice, but an obligation. It is not something we can take or leave, but a matter of life or death. For in the beginning were stories, not texts (Song, 2011).
For indigenous people, our names are suggestive of where we belong, they can tell us our tribe, ethnicity and so on. At times our names indicate our connection to nature, land, art and the like which is very significant. Telling our Naming Stories, will narrate how significant stories are attached to names. Names can also tell from whose clan, and lineage you come from. So also, our name links us to the web of creation, how there is a powerful connection of our names to our roots and genealogy suggesting the collective narrative at the same time acknowledging the individual.
Stories and storytelling can become important tools of decolonization. Integral to the unravelling of colonization is our ancestral wisdom, which can be found embedded in the stories. They are like glasses through which we can view, learn, and be taught by our ancestors who live in every line of the recitations. The task ahead is then to find the relationality of our stories, Christian stories and how they can be weaved together to formulate a practical theology in which we are involved.
Dr. Bendanglemla Longkumer, is from Nagaland, India. She is an alumnus of the IASACT 2013 batch. Currently, serving as Senior Lecturer in Christian Theology and Ethics
Pacific Theological College, Suva, Fiji
Practising Inter-religious Dialogue with Classical Confucian Resources
Dr. Edmond EH
Head of the Department of Philosophy
University of Saint Joseph, Macau
In February 2019 Pope Francis and Ahmad Al-Tayyeb published the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together. As a joint declaration, the document is immensely significant as an inter-religious statement since it represents the authoritative teachings of the Catholic tradition of Christianity and the Sunni tradition of Islam. They state:
In the name of God and of everything stated thus far; Al-Azhar al-Sharif and the Muslims of
the East and West, together with the Catholic Church and the Catholics of the East
and West, declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation
as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard
(Francis and Ahmad Al-Tayyeb 2019, 2-3).
This paper is an attempt to do practical theology in inter-faith settings within the context of China. Based on the framework found in the Document on Human Fraternity, it proposes (1) a path to a culture of dialogue by identifying the appropriate resources found in classical Confucianism that can be used to promote (2) a code of conduct of mutual co-operation and (3) the method and standard of reciprocal understanding with the Catholic Church and Al-Azhar.
In the Analects, goodness (ren 仁) refers to the highest of Confucian virtues. It is an overarching virtue of a perfected human being and it includes qualities as empathetic understanding (shu 恕) or benevolence (hui 惠). The virtue of ren contains mutuality and ‘goodness’ already means mutual goodness. This Confucian virtue serves to support the conduct of mutual co-operation in inter-religious dialogue.
The Confucian virtue of understanding (shu 恕) reflects an ability to show sympathy by putting oneself imaginatively in another’s place. One who has the virtue of shu exercises restraint in the practice of the Confucian Golden Rule: “what you do not wish yourself, do not do unto others” (jisuobuyu wushiyuren 己所不欲，勿施於人). In the Analects, ‘understanding’ already includes the dimension of reciprocity. This Confucian virtue serves to support the method of reciprocal understanding in inter-religious dialogue.
Edmond Eh is Head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Saint Joseph, Macau. He teaches systematic philosophy in the Bachelor of Christian Studies programme and comparative philosophy in the Master of Philosophy programme at the Faculty of Religious Studies and Philosophy. He obtained the doctorate in Philosophy and Religious Studies from the University of Macau. He researches in comparative philosophy, especially in the Aristotelian and Confucian traditions. Some of his work can be found in The Journal of the Macau Ricci Institute and Orientis Aura: Macau Perspectives in Religious Studies.
Re-visioning the Western Theory-Asian Practice Gap: A Postcolonial Pedagogy of Theological Reflection
Ms. Suk-Yi PANG
Hong Kong Christian Council
In the past few decades, much discussion of theological education reform in the Asian contexts has focused on uplifting the status of Asian practices against a predominant knowledge system of colonial Western theologies/theories in the existing curricula. Recommended remedies often include increasing the contextual awareness of theological educators or introducing more courses on Asian traditions. This paper argues that such remedies alone not only perpetuate a “banking” model of theological education, but also further reinforce essentialist colonial epistemological frameworks they set out to rectify. As postcolonial theorists have pointed out, there is no homogenous, static culture or tradition that can secure a clear-cut superiority over the “other”, be it of the colonizers or the colonized. Instead, this paper proposes a postcolonial pedagogy of theological reflection as a more fundamental and effective methodology for theological education in Asia. Countering the prevalent quantitative understanding of curriculum design mentioned above, the postcolonial pedagogy of theological reflection demonstrates a qualitative change to the way of doing theology as subject-agents in Asia. Developed in the context of Hong Kong, the postcolonial theological reflection model seeks to help students 1) understand themselves as contested, hybrid sites of multiple ideological, cultural, and religious belongings; 2) perceive the creative possibilities in occupying a space between political, social, cultural, and theological polarities; 3) articulate their own voice, as subject-agents of theology/theory, from the borders between different belongings; and 4) acquire an ethico-theological vision of practice as dialectical negotiation between contradictory and antagonistic forces. By doing so, the proposed model rejects a naïve negation of Western theories and categories, but effectively opens up discursive and practical space for “other forms of enunciation” that would disrupt taken-for-granted theological notions and systems. Finally, by locating students as the very site of practice-as-negotiation, such postcolonial approach deconstructs the Western theory-Asian practice gap to better address the challenge of theological education in Asia
Theology of Thungsut Kop: A Chin Contextual Theology of Salvation
Mr. Min THANG
Chiang Mai University
The Chin community in which I growth up is a Christian community they are majority Christian. The Chins have a distinct tradition from the ancient to present day. There are various culture and tradition according to tribe by tribe. Although their tradition is oral tradition transmitted to generation to next generation. Oral tradition is one of important source for doing contextual theology today. Because doing theology is life experiences of the people, how they understand human, world, and God. Therefore, every theology is contextual theologies that come from people context. However, until now Christians in Myanmar, especially the Chins are sometime practicing American/western theology. Their theology is dominated by western theology. This is because Christianity among the Chin is impressed with a very strong western influence. In this to contextualize thungsut-kop theology is urgent need for doing theology in the Chins way. In one hand thungsut kop theology and salvation of Christ in cross is very similar in both the Chin context and biblical context. In this I would like to concentrate on thungsut kop theology is as a way of doing contextual theology. It is a very important element of the Chin tradition, which contains worthwhile values, which need to be protected and contextualized in the Chin Christians way in today.
First, to theologize, one must need to know what does thungsut-kop mean? Why it is important to theologize for the Chin Christian in particular. The word thungsut-kop is derived from Matu-Chin dialect. It is the two-combination words thungsut and kop; thungsut mean the main stand of Chin traditional house, which is the center/main stand of traditional house building. Kop simply mean embraced or tiredly hold, which simple mean embracing/hold tiredly the main stand of traditional house, it is similar in the Christian understanding of salvation that is to embrace or accepts the cross. The basic meaning of the term thungsut kop is saving from penalty of death, this means to deliverance or release from oppression, wrongdoing, sickness, injustice, and sin.
How Noro’s Existential Theology could be in Practice in the Secular Society
Ms. Masako HAYASHI
Tokyo Metropolitan University
A certain theological theory must first form a discussion of practical theology. Then the techniques and modes of ‘putting it into practice’ must be explained in an academically systematic way. As a member of an extreme minority of the population, a Japanese Christian, there are theological scholarly achievements that we could have been able to enjoy because we have been minorities: Among them, a theologian Yoshio Noro had established the existential theology influenced by German hermeneutics of Rudolf Bultmann’s demythologizing and the tradition of liberal theology such as Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich from the US. While incorporating the achievements of modern western theology since the 19th century, building a theology upon the hardships of those who have wished to embrace Christianity in Japan had inevitably focused on the encounter with our indigenous religions, which are beliefs in Shinto animistic gods, Kwan Yin or any other types of Buddhism, people’s Taoism, and religious syncretism in all. Or, perhaps the most trial for Japanese theologians today would be to show the meaning of being Christians to a society of religiously indifferent. In Japan, the Christian population has less than 1 per cent of the nation’s population in all denominations.
Although theological trends such as feminist (or gender) theology, post-colonialism, ecology so on, of course, have been significant issues, we the minorities do not necessarily follow the trends. What matters more is how academics present theories of the incarnation of God’s Love to our society. For practical theology, the first stage is in analysing what is happening in today’s world and how they are problematic, but it is instead the next stage on which the theologians are to focus. That is, to theorise how Christianity can explicitly solve the problems.
On practice, why don’t I utilize the welfare system and policies by the secular states or a nation, for those could be a motive for practices based upon the established and Japan’s unique systematic existential theology. Practicing social works could be Christian prayers in this secular society. Referring to Richard Henry Tawney (1880-1962) contributed one of the builders of the British welfare state as an educator, an economic historian, and a social and political thinker. At the conference, I will introduce a unique existential theology by a Japanese systematic theologian and refer to Tawney's contribution to the building of the welfare state in the first half of the 20th century, with Christian socialism as an ideological foundation, to show that Tawney's religion of individuation is compatible with existential theology.
Postgraduate at Tokyo Metropolitan University, Graduate School of Humanities, and JSPS fellow DC1. M. T. S. (Drew University, US). Working on the British Welfare States in the interwar period and R. H. Tawney, Christian socialism. Has worked on John Wesley, and contemporary systematic theology. Certified social worker.
Exploring the Contexts of Hong Kong from a Minjung Theological Perspective
Ms. Susan Wing-Shan IP
Professional Doctoral Candidate in Practical Theology
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge Theological Federation
Min (the people) and -jung (the public) combine two Chinese characters that mean the oppressed masses. Minjung Theology came out of the struggle of concerned Christians in the 70’s South Korea by the trajectory of socio-political dilemma. The concept of Han is internal sentiment derived from suffering, frustration, and hurt over a lengthy period. This accumulation of such feelings and experiences could be a socially caused situation. The dialectic unification of Han and Dan (to cut off) initiated a group of Biblical and Theology Scholars to emerge their creative Dan to liberate the vicious circle of the Han.
Hong Kong is facing the hardest hit due to the simultaneous sequelae of socio-political and covid-19 pandemic blasts. Hong Kong people generally have fearful subjectivity dissemination across generations, and diaspora has become a pattern since the last century. In the current situation in Hong Kong, families and communities are torn into Diaspora and Stay. Both alternatives have caused a lot of trauma and consequence. Many churches share the same struggle and are incapable of responding.
This paper investigates the contexts of Hong Kong from the Minjung Theological Perspective to initiate theological reflections on Ecclesial practices.
Exposition of Fides del Castillo’s Laylayan Theology from the Lenses of Gadamer’s Fusion of Horizon
Mr. Jonathan James O. CAÑETE
PhD Candidate in Applied Theology with Specialization in Religious Education
De La Salle University and the Ateneo de Manila University
Fides del Castillo, a theologian from the Philippines, conceptualized a theological approach that gives prominence to the marginalized in the process of theological articulation based on their contextual experiences; a theology from, by, and of the marginalized (those who are in the “Laylayan" of society). Hence, the vision of del Castillo in formulating this theological discourse is to empower the marginalized by giving them an avenue and opportunity for their lost voices to be heard in society, especially in the way they give a sense of their faith experiences, which would in return lead to the formulation of their theological understanding on certain truths of the faith. In this regard, such theological articulation insinuates not only the way the divine is being experienced but also the salvific means that would assuage their experience of ostracism and voicelessness both in the realm of the political and ecclesial society. However, del Castillo also recognized the importance of academically trained theologians and religious educators in assisting the marginalized with their theological articulation without heading towards the seemingly unavoidable tendency to impose the former's theological conceptualization from the faith experience of the latter. If such cases happened this is another expression of theological exploitation of the marginalized. Therefore, to frame the dynamics of Laylayan Theology as a dialogical discourse giving prominence to the marginalized this study would employ Hans Georg Gadamer’s Fusion of Horizon where the meta-existential world or horizon of individuals collides with each other, and the meeting point of such collision demonstrates the Hegelian dialectics which leads to the emergence of newfound learning and influences. Through this framework that Gadamer provides in his Fusion of Horizon, the marginalized might be able to express their theological voices without being afraid of any forms of ostracization simply because the theologian or the religious educator serves as a luminary that ushers in the process of articulation – the sense of del Castillo’s Laylayan Theology.
Keywords: Laylayan Theology; Fusion of Horizon; Gadamer; Fides del Castillo; Exposition
Jonathan James O. Cañete is currently finishing his Doctoral degree in Applied Theology with specialization in Religious Education at the De La Salle University, Philippines. He is currently writing his Dissertation on Laylayan Theology under the supervision of the Filipina theologian Dr. Fides del Castillo the proponent of such theology. Moreover, Mr. Cañete is a part-time theology instructor at the Ateneo de Manila University and at the De La Salle University, Philippines.
Reconciliation between Heteronormative Discourses in Church and LGBT Christians: Queering of God by Acknowledging Sexual Embodiment into the Dominant Discourse
Dr. Christopher Chi-Pang YIU
Specialist in General Surgery and Sex Therapist
Sexual ethic possesses strong power on sexual discourses and has shaped sexual practices and selfhood accordingly. Metanarratives from sexual ethic provide social stability but in expenses to individuality and diversity, the ideology charged by postmodernity. Hong Kong is in the intersection of Chinese and Western cultural influences. On one hand, the traditional Chinese cultures are those on male dominant discourse, emerged from both patriarchy system and economic male dominance in earlier history in Hong Kong. The Western influences are those Jewish-Christian culture on another hand. The summation of the Chinese and Western cultural influences is the binary system inclining to patriarchy, and heteronormativity in sexuality and gender issues. Sexual ethics in church follow the similar tones of the sociocultural background, but with enhanced degree of control. Pastors champion spirituality over sexuality, limited space for discussion on sexual self and diversity is allowed. The primary concern is probably the stability of congregation. Spirituality is the professional area of pastoring but sexuality especially embodied knowledge is not easily controllable by usual pastoral practices. Sexuality is therefore believed to be the main source of instability and given the name of most demon sin.
In the past years, the author has performed qualitative interviews with LGBT Christians to explore their embodiment data and their perceived images of Godhood out of their own sexuality. The aim is to explore how the understanding of embodiment has contributed to the construction of sexual self within the dominant heteronormative discourse. This sexual self is of paramount importance to understand the materials about self but to relate with other to form a relational self (otherness-in-selfness) and with God to construct a narrated self in Christ. Selfhood or identity of self, as illustrated by the lived experiences of these LGBT Christians, is a fluidic and diversified concept which resist any attempt to stay in a fixated point of standing, therefore it is never a stable concept in their own voyages on sexual discovery. Such identity is constructed by continuous naming and renaming about their narratives of selfhood and relationship, the process to reclaim empowerment progressively. By their naming and renaming of their identity, a theological tendency of queering of God is observed. Out of their own embodied sexuality, they articulate God in a queered way by questioning the gender of God (male/ masculine Father and Son, female/ feminine Holy Spirit), and o further narrate their relationship with the Godhood again by means of naming and renaming. There is no attempt to replace the metanarrratives by their narrartives constitutionally, but to humbly recover the possibility of fluidity of sexuality in theological consideration. I see no battle between the LGBT Christians with the dominant discourse but a possible reconciliation by allowing a narrative of queering God in this regard. This queering approach provides an intersection between two camps in pastoring level and in a practical sense.
Who am I? Whom can I Love? And Why me?
Queer Christians and the Spirituality of Struggle
Mr. Robbin DAGLE
Ateneo de Manila University
This paper presents the spirituality of struggle as a way in which young adult queer Christians navigate the tensions between their faith and sexuality in a conservative society such as the Philippines. We articulate this spirituality in terms of the three questions they are asking: Who am I? Whom can I love? And why me?—questions that concern identity, intimacy, and justice, respectively.
These insights are drawn from our interviews with male queer Christians in 2019 who are mostly young adults aged 21-30 years old from the Greater Manila Area. Many describe themselves as gay or bisexual men, with some using colloquial terms such as bakla or beki. While majority of our interlocutors are Catholic, many others are from conservative Christian groups including Evangelicals, Mormons, and the Iglesia ni Cristo. LGTBQ+-affirming groups such as the Metropolitan Community Church and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente have also been included. In terms of social class, our interlocutors come from varying backgrounds, including graduate students, young professionals in call centers, and hair stylists.
Recognizing this spirituality of struggle offers significant contributions to religion and gender in the Philippines, both as an emerging field of inquiry and as pastoral matter. First, it recognizes that queer religious identities are dynamic, and that navigating the tension is a negotiated act steeped in ambivalence. Second, the spirituality of struggle serves as an empirical counterpoint to the fundamentalist, patriarchal, and neoliberal character of militant Christianity in the Philippines. We also offer three implications from these findings. First, certain articulations of the spirituality of struggle may reproduce inequality. Second, the spirituality of struggle is symptomatic of religious change happening in the Philippines. Lastly, the spirituality of struggle poses pastoral implications for churches to foster safe spaces that encourage LGBTQ+ persons to name their sources and experiences of shame and oppression.
Robbin Dagle is Lecturer at the Department of Communication of the Ateneo de Manila University, with research interests and published works in religion, gender, human rights, media and journalism. He is also a freelance journalist covering religion, environment, and local issues.
Resuscitating Indigeneity: The Mizo Concept of Divine Spirit as a Catalyst for Inclusivity in Interfaith and Intercultural Settings in Asia
Mr. Billy J. ZORINTHARA
PhD Candidate in Intercultural Theology
Protestant Theological University
This paper aims to explore the Mizo indigenous concept of divine spirit, known as Khua, Khuanu, and Khuavang, and its potential as a paradigm for fostering openness towards others in interfaith and intercultural settings in Asia. The patriarchal concept of God, which has been dominant in many religions and cultures, has often been exclusionary towards women and minority groups. This is also the case in Mizo Christian concept of God as the western missionaries and the early church leaders employed a Mizo masculine concept of God (Pathian) in their translation of the bible into Mizo language. The indigenous concept of spirit in Mizo culture, on the other hand, is more inclusive and open towards diversity.
The Mizo people are an indigenous community living in northeast India, western Myanmar, and eastern Bangladesh. The Mizo culture is deeply rooted in their spiritual beliefs and practices. The concept of Khua, Khuanu, and Khuavang is central to Mizo spirituality and reflects their unique worldview. The concept is rooted in the belief that everything in the universe is interconnected and that all living beings are part of a larger whole. The Mizo concept of divine spirit is therefore more inclusive towards other living beings, and not limited to humans alone.
Othering often stems from our understanding of God as exclusive and patriarchal. Therefore, reconceiving God from an inclusive paradigm, such as the Mizo concept of divine spirit, can be a powerful tool for promoting de-othering and building bridges between different communities. The Mizo concept of divine spirit includes both male and female gender, which is more inclusive towards gender diversity. By emphasizing the interconnectedness of all beings and the importance of living in harmony with nature and each other, the concept of divine spirit promotes greater understanding and empathy towards other cultures and religions.
In conclusion, this paper argues that the Mizo indigenous concept of divine spirit has significant potential as a paradigm for fostering openness towards others in interfaith and intercultural settings in Asia. By decolonizing the patriarchal concept of God and reviving indigenous concepts of spirit, the paper proposes that a more inclusive and diverse understanding of spirituality and religion can be promoted. This can contribute to the development of mutual understanding and respect between different cultures and religions, which is crucial for fostering openness towards the other.
“Critical Harmony” as Pastoral Principle for Accompanying LGBTQ Christians as Church: A Singaporean Catholic’s Perspective
Dr. Alfred Kah-Meng PANG
Drawing on East Asian philosophy, Ho and Barton (2022) develop the notion of critical harmony as a complement to rights and equality in predominantly Western discourses on justice in civic education. Critical harmony, they contend, “depends neither on consensus nor on blind obedience to authority, but instead requires an embrace of conflict and tension, a valuing of difference and even deviance, and judicious balance among diverse perspectives and areas of expertise” (280).
In this paper presentation, I consider how critical harmony is constructive as a principle for the pastoral accompaniment of LGBTQ Christians in the Catholic Church. Reflecting on my experience in a diocesan ministry that ministers to LGBTQ Christians and their loved ones in Singapore, I highlight how critical harmony can move us toward an incarnational approach to LGBTQ ministry that nurtures what VanderWal-Gritter (2004) calls “generous spaciousness” (107) in God. Critical harmony, I argue, is not only a principle that engages LGBTQ Christians dialogically as church. It also cuts through the intense polarization over LGBTQ issues in our churches and society today, moving us toward the model of pastoral care rooted in God’s reconciling love.
Ho, Li-Ching and Keith C. Barton. 2022. “Critical harmony: A goal for deliberative civic education.” Journal of Moral Education 51(2): 276-291.
VanderWal-Gritter, W. 2014. Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.
Alfred Pang has a PhD in Theology and Education from Boston College. Born and residing in Singapore, he is an educator and independent researcher. He researches and writes on spirituality and ethics in Catholic education, as well as on LGBTQ inclusion in churches and schools. He teaches ethics in educational leadership.
Alfred is also the coordinator of the LGBTQ-Allies Working Group in the Religious Education Association. He is currently involved in a Catholic ministry to LGBTQ Christians in the diocese of Singapore.
The Journey of Women’s Empowerment in a Chinese Congregation
Dr. Elaine YIP
Hostess & Speaker
An Online Faith Forum “Salt Light Fellowship”
In a Baptist church where women’s role had been restricted owing to the biblical interpretation of the western missionaries, only men could be found in the pulpit during worship. Women were not allowed to speak or lead the liturgy in worship. However a change was initiated and women’s roles were transformed. Women were allowed to stand on the pulpit to perform different roles afterwards. The breakthrough itself manifested a decolonisation of the influence of the western missionaries and the transformation of the culture and tradition of the congregation. The changes in women’s roles also helped in establishing and strengthening the image of women’s leadership. This journey generated a new understanding of women’s empowerment in this congregation where the concept of “headship” still demarcated the roles of women, with women still not holding top leadership posts. Empowerment was expressed in terms of greater visibility of women and equal partnership of men and women in worship, as well as a new perception that applied to all women and through the construction of new identities for the women leaders without acquiring the formal posts of ultimate leadership, and without having to abandon the conservative theology of male headship, which is both inherited from the colonizers and is also culturally Chinese.
This paper attempts to discuss how women’s empowerment can be made in a Chinese congregation with missionary influence, including the decolonisation in the use of the Bible, the interplay of different factors contributing to the success of changes in women’s roles and the obstacles hindering the further changes in women’s roles, the impact of the culture and tradition in a church, women’s diverse views towards the changes and their self-perception. On the other hand, the impact of the changes made on women and the congregation as a whole will also be explored.
Dr. Elaine YIP is a graduate of Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology in Anglia Ruskin University in 2019. Her research interest was feminist theology and her thesis was entitled “Exploring the journey towards Women’s Empowerment in a Chinese Congregation in Hong Kong”. She has been a deaconess in a Baptist church and has deep concerns for women’s rights in the church. She is also a founding member of “Asia Academy of Practical Theology HK”, and now a hostess and speaker in an online faith forum “Salt Light Fellowship”
Dalit Women’s Autobiographies as a Resource for Pastoral Theology, Care and Counselling
Rev. Devahi SELINA
Doctoral Student, Pastoral Care and Counselling
Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India
Dalits were denied access to knowledge systems and were forbidden to read, write, or listen to the Vedas. During British colonial rule, formal educational opportunities for Dalits emerged. Consequently, Dalits began to write themselves into history, by wielding the power of the pen. Dalit autobiographies are their stories that embody their pain, protests, and hope. Dalit works are still not included in mainstream writings, much like the Dalits themselves, who live beyond the village boundaries. Dalit literature depicts the anguish of being a Dalit in a caste-based society. Concurrently, document revolutionary concepts that question society's hegemonic caste systems. From 1990 to 2020, most Dalit women's writings whose experiences were not represented in mainstream Dalit literature and feminist writings were published. Their wretched lives were given meanings and purpose via literature, and their voices were heard. These women's counter-stories are painful because they strike at the conscience of society; because alternate perceptions of reality are not addressed, they are typically disregarded as radical and extreme. Their lived experiences can be used as a resource for pastoral theology. To be truly and relevantly contextual, pastoral theology must address the questions raised by Dalit women and weave its theology of pastoral care by paying attention to the resources that Dalit women use to cope with multiple forms of oppression, violence, and discrimination.
Methods of inquiry examine the contents (stories, testimonies, and narratives) of selected Dalit women's autobiographies in order to delve into their lived experience and re-present it in a narrative form that provides rich detail and context about their lives. Several themes emerge from Dalit women's testimonies, including how Dalit girl children are unwelcomed from childbirth at home and in society; discrimination at educational institutions; the nature of Dalit women's problems that differ from caste women; and domestic violence that these women face at home at the hands of their spouses and in-laws. The appalling poverty that Dalits experience as a result of societal structure and exploitation; the most heinous crimes against Dalit women being sexual violence and rape, while caste Hindus get away with impunity. The autobiographies expose the caste people's inhumanity and caste discrimination in the workplace. They depict the reliance of Dalit community. A study of their resilience open possibilities in understanding as to how the oppressed communities build mechanisms that enable them to cope. The coping technique implanted in them to help them deal with caste cruelty was documented.
Underneath their entire empathic writing/orientation and furious exposure of casteism is a profound substructure of Christian commitment. Their lived experiences as Dalits, as well as their pursuit of equality, human dignity, well-being, and justice for their people, make them natural caregivers. They abandon individuality and personal fulfilment in favour of collective caregiving as realistic possibilities, transforming themselves into pastoral caregivers. Their pastoral caregiving nature is supportive and empathic. They communicate their desires, dreams, and independent viewpoints, and they talk for themselves rather than being spoken for or by others. They employ the female body in rebellion and combat of patriarchal domination of women.
Interrogating Spiritual Capital in Social Entrepreneurship
Mr. Joseph CHAN
Professional Doctorate Candidate in Practical Theology
Capital is a crucial resource in the creation of wealth and the domination of the redistribution of resources in economic markets. The accumulation of capital has led to the social issue of inequality, where some have too much and others have less or nothing. Traditional economic models focus on maximizing profit and economic growth. Spiritual capital and social entrepreneurship are interconnected. Social enterprise refers to a business model with an objective to achieve both financial and social impact while spiritual capital emphasized the important of values beyond materials. The value based operation of social enterprise is drawn on the spiritual capital to attain the social value. Spiritual capital is a relatively new concept that is gaining traction in discussions around economics, business, and social enterprise. It refers to the spiritual knowledge and practices that individuals and communities possess, which can be harnessed to create social and economic value. This value can be manifested through the redistribution of capital and the reduction of wealth disparities. Overall, the concept of spiritual capital is an important one for those interested in creating positive social change. By harnessing the spiritual knowledge, people work towards building more just and equitable societies, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
Joseph Chan is a professional doctorate candidate in practical theology. He also involves in social enterprise activity in Hong Kong including the provision of training and coaching for social entrepreneurs.