Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ecumenics (a 100 years on) Conference

Next year, the Irish School of Ecumenics at Trinity College Dublin is hosting a conference in June called "From World Mission to Interreligious Witness: Visioning Ecumenics in the 21st Century." It is being co-organised by the theological journal Concilium and will run from June 16-18 2010. The blurb goes like this:

"The centenary of the ecumenical 1910 World Mission Conference in Edinburgh is an opportunity to engage, critically, with the achievements and failures of Ecumenics as that can be interpreted through the changes of vision and action manifest in the ecumenical movement. From the vantage point of the new century, one of the most important elements of revisioning relates to the character and concept of ecumenical Christian witness across cultures and faiths. The diversity of cultures and faiths was, of course, already evident in 1910 and provided the context in which "world mission" was envisage. However, political, philosophical and theological developments of the 20th century have recalibrated the significance of that diversity and have raised radical new questions for Christianity in its many manifestations:

  • "What is the significance of the way in which Christianity has moved from World Mission to World Christianity?
  • "How can Christian mission and witness be theorized and embodied in the 21st century?
  • "What does Christian witness entail in the public squares of the world, which represent not only multiplicity as spatial and historic entities, but also plurality within?
  • "How can religious actors best acknowledge the fact that the public square should not simply be regarded as the "other" of some imagined religious sphere?
  • "How can Christianity re-imagine and re-position itself in light of the contested and often contradictory trajectories of secularisation and religiosty?
  • "Will the 21st century confirm a transition from Christian witness to interreligious witness?
  • "How will Christian theological reflection develop alongside altered expressions of ecclesiality?

"...the conference not only seeks to re-appropriate the understanding of ecumenical Christian witness for our times but also to set out a vision for Ecumenics in the 21st century as intercultural theology, ecumenical public theology, and interreligious theology."

Although there is only one slot for parallel sessions (Thurs June 17 4.30-6pm), there is a call for papers. Abstracts (200-300 words) should address the following themes:

  • interreligious witness and religious pluralism;
  • ecumenical witness in the 21st century;
  • the hopes and limits of public theology;
  • theological dissent, freedom and creativity;
  • mission and the "other";
  • intercultural theology and religious identity(ies);
  • "mission" in a secular context;
  • local and global contexts of World Christianity and other faiths; and
  • the next 100 years of ecumenism.
These themes all sound very interesting but it is disappointing that there is only one parallel paper session. It means that there is going to be a lot going on at the same time and that the conference delegates will miss most of these papers because of such a weird - and surely unnecessary? - scheduling decision. I've never seen this format before.

Anyway, the other conference sessions include:

  • "From World Mission to World Christianity: Revisiting Christian Witness from the Global South" (Felix Wilfred, Madras);
  • "Christian Witness in 'New Modernity:' Trajectories in Intercultural Theology" (Robert J. Schreiter, Chicago);
  • "Religion and Theology in Public Life" (Will Storrar, Princeton);
  • "Eastern Orthodox Christianity in a Pluralistic World" (Ina Merdjanova, Sofia);
  • "Islam and Public Witness: Issues in Dawah and Religious Pluralism" (Ataullah Siddiqui, Leicester);
  • "The Role of Witness in Interreligious Dialogue" (Catherine Cornille, Boston);
  • "Interreligious and Witness: Examining the Terms from Hindu Perspectives" (Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, Lancaster);
  • "Visioning Ecumenics as Interreligious Theology" (John D'Arcy May, Dublin); and
  • "Visioning Ecumenics in the 21st Century" (Linda Hogan, Dublin).

The conference fee is 100 Euros before April 1 2010/120 after April 1 2010 for waged and 50/60 for unwaged. It runs from 10am June 16 to 1pm June 18, with a reception and dinner on Monday night. It isn't clear whether other meals and accommodation is included in the conference fee, but you can direct enquiries to Dr. Admirand.

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