Increased Collaboration Crucial for Lutheran Seminaries in Asia
One of the main issues discussed at the Asia Church Leadership Conference held in Taipei, Taiwan, 12–15 April 2015, was the need to strengthen the cooperation of Lutheran theological seminaries and colleges in Asia. This is thought to be crucial for a number of reasons:
Theological education and formation as tools for regional integration and a means of nurturing the global LWF communion: This point was specifically highlighted by LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, who challenged the churches in Asia to ensure that communion building also takes place at the level of theological formation. This can be achieved by guaranteeing that there is serious collaboration when developing curricula, improving the standard of teaching and learning, and by focusing on the pressing issues in society.
Sharing limited resources, both financial and human; some seminaries have enough qualified staff while others do not: Many seminaries in Asia depend on church or donor funding from Europe or North America. This trend is not sustainable and the sharing of resources, such as sharing teaching staff and other resources, need to be explored. Students could be given the opportunity to take courses in other seminaries, thereby increasing their exposure in the Asian region.
Sharing of experiences: Some Asian churches are confronted by similar challenges, such as multi-faith contexts and hostile governmental legislation inhibiting religious freedom, while others have to deal with growing secularization. By coordinating theological education, seminaries may find ways of making meaningful and informed contributions to the churches. An increased collaboration among Lutheran seminaries in Asia will help the formation of theologians who are able to respond to these shared challenges and to find common solutions.
It was proposed that the LWF take the lead in organizing the initial meeting for the regional seminaries to come together and then allow the locals to organize themselves in the future.
Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata is study secretary for Lutheran Theology, Practice and Formation in the LWF Department for Theology and Public Witness.