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17.12.2020

Mission in Diaconia Manifest in Times of Pandemic

Dr. Dennis Solon, theologian from the Philippines and guest speaker at the second virtual lecture in the "Mission Lectures" series. (Photo: UEM)

On December 10, 2020, a further virtual Mission Lecture was conducted by Rev. Dr. Dennis Solon who was invited as keynote speaker. Dr. Solon, ordained minister of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, is holding a doctoral degree in theology and is currently assigned as visiting professor at the Institute for Diaconic Science and Diaconic Management (IDM) of the Protestant University Wuppertal/Bethel in Germany. The theme of this lecture was “Ecclesial mission and Diaconia in times of pandemic crisis: Theological-interdisciplinary considerations”. The target groups of this lecture were the current scholarship holders and the former scholarship recipients of UEM.

Theologies of Pain and Suffering

In times of the pandemic, Dr. Solon emphasizes a Christian understanding of the mystic “Body of Christ”, which calls on today’s churches to revitalize networks of churches/congregations in localities for mutual support and solidarity. Unfortunately, in this difficult situation, there are increasing perceptions of misleading theologies among the Christian communities, claiming that the pandemic was God’s punishment for human sins and a sign of the coming doomsday. Dr. Solon invokes the churches to strengthen their sense of solidarity, in which the church communities continue cultivating theologies of pain and suffering that do not necessarily blame the victims. One concluding remark from his lecture is the theological insight that God’s salvation in Christ needs to be reflected on in order to include not only sinners who are invited to repent, but also those who suffer because of the injustice inflicted on them.

The strategic role of UEM

Dr. Solon, whose employment at IDM is funded by the United Evangelical Mission, the von Bodelschwingh Foundations, and the Protestant Church of Westfalia, completed his doctoral studies at University of Heidelberg, Germany, supported by a UEM scholarship. In his closing statement, he observes God’s mission in UEM as follows: "As a long-standing international communion of churches, the UEM has been playing a strategic and important role in concretely manifesting the church's mission and diaconia. Together with its member churches and institution(s), along with many cooperating entities, UEM courageously continues to be at the forefront in embodying - in dynamic and creative ways - what could be imagined on earth as the Reign/Kingdom of God, relentlessly mediating God's mission and Christ's diaconia."

The presentation given by Dr Dennis Solon can be downloaded here.

Dr. Andar Parlindungan (Executive Secretary for Training & Empowerment)

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