The General Secretary of UEM, Volker Martin Dally, kicked off the virtual lecture series "Mission Lectures" with his online lecture on August 20, 2020. The audience included scholarship holders and alumni of the UEM scholarship program. The zoom lecture was organized by the Training & Empowerment Department, which is responsible for the scholarship program. 48 students and alumni in Asia, Africa and Germany followed the lecture on their computers. Due to the great worldwide interest not all registrations could be considered.
Under the heading "The UEM today: global perspectives of UEM with regard to 25 years of internationalization" Volker Martin Dally explained the development of historical missionary work in the 18th and 19th centuries and the changes in the structure and fields of work of UEM since its internationalization in 1996. The General Secretary pointed out that the UEM is continuously evaluating its five main areas of activity in order to reform and transform itself according to the changing landscapes within its member churches. The theologian sees the new format of global learning in an ecumenical perspective, or "GLEP" for short, as a promising educational tool for improving perspectives within the fields of work convivence (living together) and pro-existence in the UEM communion. In addition, one is struggling within the UEM to abolish the donor and recipient mentality, especially in bilateral partnerships, in order not to fall back into old patterns of missionary work. Dr. Andar Parlindungan, Head of the Training & Empowerment Department, added: "The strengths of UEM lie in its internationalization and its spirit of equality, in which all member churches commit themselves to be united in the UEM family in mutual responsibility and ownership. According to the Indonesian theologian, this concept of mission allows for a creative approach to communication that constantly renews the international spirit of UEM".
After the presentation, the participants were assigned to six working groups, in which further questions were discussed about the relevance of God's mission in today's challenging times, the relevance of UEM's five main areas of work, the role of the GLEP approach and the challenges within the UEM family.
The virtual lecture series on the topic of mission will be continued with the involvement of various speakers from the UEM communion and partner universities. The international online lectures are an efficient way to present the communion of churches - despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 - in academic circles in a vivid and broad-based way and to explore various possibilities for further cooperation and support by the alumni of the scholarship program and the UEM member churches.
Having the largest Muslim population worldwide, Indonesia is known as a country with a tolerant society. Religious tolerance in Indonesia is largely influenced by traditional values of the local society, as passed down from generation to generation. When religion and local culture influence and equip each other, peace and tolerance can be found among the adherents of the different religions.
Recent problems have developed in the past years due to the growth of the religious extremist and fundamentalist movement which no longer include traditional values in their practice. Traditional culture and local wisdom are even viewed as heresy and a stain on the practice of “true” religion. The clash between religion and local culture causes conflicts in the name of religion, using claims that certain religions or religious practices are better than others.
The Indonesian context, which is rich in cultural and religious heritage, is an interesting topic for discussion in this year’s Mission Lectures, which will feature the role of cultural diversity in religious and social life. Is cultural richness an enrichment for religion or can it distort the role of religion in society? Looking at the aspect of culture from a global perspective through the eyes of a non-Indonesian will help widen the horizon of how we view ourselves. Contributions from a non-Indonesian theologian will help the churches in Indonesia to reflect on and refresh their theology, in order to see whether and how theology in Indonesia is intercultural, international and interreligious
Prof. Dr Claudia Jahnel has been Professor of Intercultural Theology at the Ruhr University Bochum since 2017. She received her doctorate and habilitated at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen. She is in charge of international affairs the Faculty of Protestant Theology of Bochum University.
Claudia Jahnel is a member of various scientific societies. She leads the working group "Pentecostal Churches" in the Chamber for Worldwide Ecumenism of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD), is the second chairwoman of the Theological Commission of the Association of Protestant Churches and Missions in Germany (EMW) and co-founder of the working group "African Theologies" of the Scientific Society for Theology. She is also co-editor of the journal ZMiss (Periodical on Mission und Intercultural Theology).
Her main topics include: Ecumenical Missiology (in cooperation with an international ecumenical committee on „Witnessing Christ Today –Towards an Ecumenical Missiology“), Science of Human Bodies from interreligious and intercultural theologies, Intercultural Perspectives of Childhood, Global Christianity with emphasis on Christianity in Africa and Latin Amerika, Globalization, Church and Migration, Pentecostal Churches, Contextual Theologies: Post-Colonial Theology and Liberation Theology, Religion and Development and Interfaith Dialogue.
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