Location: Central and Eastern European Institute for Mission Studies, 1461 Budapest, Kalvin ter 7.
Organized by: Central and Eastern European Institute for Mission Studies
Framework: The conference has been organized within the framework of Edinburgh 2010.
Present: Twenty people from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Rumania, Russia, The Netherlands
Wednesday, 24 November:
The main events of the first day of the conference were the General Assembly and first exchange of information organized in the form of short and reflective case studies connected to countries.
The initially asked preparatory questions on which participants could reflect in advance for their imput during the general assembly and beyond were:
- What possibilities and hindrances do you see in your region to strengthen the CEEAMS network and membership?
- How could our journal ACTA MISSIOLOGIAE play a role?
- Could you think of people in your network who could contribute an article to ACTA?
- How could we strengthen partnerships in cooperative research?
What missiological research is taking place in your institution, your country, your region?
- What other ways do you see how we can strengthen the aims of our association?
- What is the status of DABOH in our region?
- In what practical way do you think you could contribute to our CEEAMS network?
The case studies on Missiological Education in Central and Eastern Europe: current state of affairs with Regional Reports by participants came from Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Georgia, Poland, Chech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.
The members of the preparatory group represented both Romanian Orthodox Church and several Protestant denominations.
Main items reported:
- There are thirteen Romanian Orthodox Theological Faculties in the country; the one in Bucharest exists since 1881; during the communist period it was not accepted by the state, now, since the academic year 1991/1992 has received the rights of a state university with numerous students (Bucharest > 2000, not all of them aiming to become a priest). Parts of the curriculum are: practical theology, systematic theology, historical theology, etc. all organised with the principle of a tolerant spirit.
- In the programs there is an accentuated attention given to the mission of the church
- In earlier times the question was more: how to be prepared for mission abroad, now the questions is how to do mission in one’s own country
- One of the most important problems/questions of these days is: how to keep religion close to the people in the post modern society?
Participants: Protestants and Orthodox CEEAMS members
- In Bulgaria there are four Orthodox Theological Faculties, non of them teach missiology in their curriculum; There are no scholrars specificly working in this area.
- There are innitiatieves from Orthodox and Evangelical Christians for organizing a structured dialogue aimng at a better understanding of each other and to becoming more mission minded
- There is one Evangelical Theological Faculty where missiology and evangelism occupies an important part in the curriculum; unfortunately there are not many students with a ‚missiological mindset‘.
- Important to improve theological education
- Missing: missiologists, vision for mission, understanding mission as proclamation of the gospel
3. Russia, Georgia
Both Orthodox and Protestant representants.
- Orthodox missiological congress with 150 participants yet without any connection to Edinburgh 2010 and without little sign of willingness for cooperation with other denominations
- Many aspects of missiology still have to be analyzed: strategy, education, messages, secularized world and its consequences, contemporary examples instead of the one from the past
- There are three Faculties for theological education with a mission department
- The leading question is: how to talk about Christ and his message for people in a secular society?
- Positive is that the church is supporting the process of democratization
Figures: 40 million inhabitants, 96% Roman Catholic, 80.000 Lutheran, 60.000 Orthodox
- RC priests are all over the world, rich tradition both in own country and abroad; also for many labor migrants; schools are involved
- A small group other denominations have their own universities and some colleges
- Struggle for survival; need for mission and mission education has been recognized
- Reformed and Lutheran churches are active in outreach programs, being present in society in social work as entrance
5. Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary
In the Czech Republic and Slovakia the number of Protestants is small.
- Theological institutes are incorporated in state universities
- Recently one course on missiology started in Slovakia
- One has to deal with the consequences of the communist period
- Mission studies is only a small part of the curriculum
- CIMS is building up attention for mission and mission studies on different levels
6. Shared issues
- The national identity is often synonym with the main denomination
- This brings up the relation between church and nation
- Majority churches having problems with developments coming from other denominations; mission only for not believers and not for people who already belong to a church
- Lack of local teachers , materials, literature
Thursday, 25 November:
After a short devotion/morning prayers (substantially enriched by a contribution from our African colleague, Raymond), Anne-Marie Kool introduced the participants to the topic of the day – research. Missiological research, if oriented toward the question “What is good for the church?”, can be compared to a diagnosis trying to find the correct medicine. Anne-Marie talked a bit about one of her research interests, namely the revival of the church and Roma mission, and then asked the question on which the participants’ work of the day was supposed to concentrate: How to conduct research work in such a way that this will be relevant for the larger Christian community? The participants then worked in smaller groups in order to discuss and consequently to give account of the proceeding missiological research in respective countries.
The results were as follows:
- In Tbilisi, there is a center for research on liturgy, also with connection to ancient Greek drama and its missiological implications
- In Russia, one can make a distinction between Orthodox research (focused on the development of liturgy) and Evangelical research (focused on how to develop liturgy). In addition, there is research on reconciliation, education, interfaith encounters, and ecological issues.
- Quite strong is the issue of the so called New Atheism – there is an ongoing discussion about the new atheism which not always academic. One can observe a peculiar phenomenon which is that people express their identity as being culturally Orthodox and atheist by conviction at the same time, whereas Marxist atheism is not fashionable anymore (similar to Bulgaria and its situation).
- In St Andrew’s theological seminary, research on the encounter between religion and science is being done.
- Orthodox: there are PhD programs on different aspects of Orthodox theology.
- Evangelical research in various areas: 1. Bible and tradition, 2. salvation, 3. common grounds of Evangelical and Orthodox theologies, 4. doctrines
- Bulgarian Evangelicals are still searching for their identity
- Valentin Kozhuharov is currently writing a book on missiology
- In Protestant circles, there has not really been done much research – there were some MA theses in missiology
- Catholics have 4 departments of missiology
- Areas of research interest (Catholic):
1. foreign mission (Africa, South America, China),
2. academic reflection of missionary training,
3. role of mission in religious education in Poland,
4. John Paul II and his missiological inputs,
5. dialogue with other denominations,
6. history of Polish missions,
7. secularization (the question: Is Poland really religious?)
- The main task is to overcome the danger of consumerism and to find a way how to proclaim Christ most adequately in contemporary times
- The mass media are used extensively: TV Trinitas (24/7 coverage), Trinitas radio, Lumina newspaper (23,000 copies a day), Basilia press center
- There are 394 missionary centers supported by the Orthodox church
- Research: on liturgy, doctrine, Church fathers
- There are PhD research programs in missiology, dealing with issues such as acknowledgement of universal missiological terms, contextualization, life & work of missiologists, post-modern concept of self-definition, concept of free-thinking, and link between local and global in the Romanian situation
- CIMS – offers PhDs; theses are then published
- Areas of research: 1.) church and Roma, 2.) urban mission, 3.) rural mission, 4.) missionary ecclesiology, 5.) history of mission, 6.) role of laity, 7.) missiology as theological discipline, 8.) Chinese, Mongolian and other migrant churches, 9.) developing own Hungarian missiology
Czech Republic, Slovakia
- Central European Centre for Mission Studies (CECMS) is involved in various research projects
- A book has been published by CECMS on crisis situations in the Czech and Slovak context after 1989 – interdisciplinary research of the contemporary society
- CECMS plans another research project on ethics of mission
- Also, it has a project aiming at gathering and analyzing mission materials of various denominations
After the country reports, Anne-Marie Kool gave a presentation on research methodology. She introduced some methods (comparative, historical, qualitative and quantitative research) and pointed out some online resources (databases on gospel & culture, guides for drafting a proposal, etc.). After the presentation, the participants worked in groups (3) again and their task was to prepare a proposal for a research project.
The topics were Spirituality, Roma mission, and Gospel & Culture. Conversely, the proposals were presented by representatives of the respective groups, while the rest of the participants were offering a subsequent (positively) critical feedback/evaluation.
At the end of this session, the participants “skyped” with Scott Klingsmith, the chief editor of Acta Missiologiae, who introduced them to this missiological journal.
Friday, 26 November
The third day of the Conference was the Symposium Edinburgh 2010 and the Future of Theological Education in the 21st Century in Central and Eastern Europe. After a short opening and word of welcome a presentation on the major developments and challenges since Edinburgh 1910: – a Central European perspective was given. This was followed by a session on the relevance of the World Study Report on Theological Education 2009 of the Edinburgh Study Group. Discussion followed the session. The diverse program in the morning continued with talking from different perspectives about the challenges and opportunities for theological education.
The afternoon continued with the Forum: Edinburgh and the future of theological education in the 21st century in Hungary, Closing of CEEAMS Conference and Symposium. The Public Lecture of Prof. Dr. Darrell Guder, Princeton Theological Seminary, followed by discussion was another highlight of the day.
The three days conference finally ended with a reception at which the price of the academic essay competition “Together witnessing to Christ today” has been awarded.
Evaluative reactions and reflections (segments):
“I think this day offered me (and I believe all of my fellow participants) a great chance to gain a deeper insight into what is going on in missiological research in various countries from Central and Eastern European region. For me, it was fascinating to compare and contrast the differences as well as to search for similarities. In addition, I was able to build initial contacts with fellow researchers which I definitely intend on using in the future for cooperation on various research projects. From the sessions of this day one is able to see that even though a major progress has been done in missiology in our region, we are still at the beginning and much more needs to be done. For example, significant contextual analyses are still lacking. Moreover, we are in need of good resources – literature, methodologies, staff, etc. It has become apparent that to prepare a good proposal for a research project might be a problem, too, not to mention finding a funding. For me personally, this seminar was very valuable and I think there should be subsequent meeting which could build upon what has been initiated in Budapest in November 2010.”
“The very fact of carrying out Annual CEEAMS conference makes a member of Association and a participant of the conference grateful to you. To prepare a conference is a hard job, involving finding financial support, gathering participants from about all of the East and the Central Europe.”
“It is obvious that such meetings of missiologists from various countries representing the basic Christian Churches are always very actual (especially for us post-communist countries who have so much in common). But it is especially actual in the year of a centenary of the conference in Edinburgh. The choice of a theme of a meeting and structure of work of conference proved successful. It is joyful to see new and young participants that testifies to significant development of our Association.”
“Inclusion in the program «Symposium Edinburgh 2010 and the Future of Theological Education in the 21st Century in Central and Eastern Europe» and invitation Prof. Dr. Darrell Guder, dean emeritus at the Princeton Theological Seminary, with the report «An overseas perspective» was especially important.”
“Work in the groups was exclusively interesting and promising, proposing new missionary projects and presenting necessary applications.”
“As always, inspiring were personal meetings of participants from different countries. Being in contact with, say our Romanian and Bulgarian colleagues, I was happy to talk with the participant from Georgia, missiological and cultural dialoguing with whom enriched me with fresh and very important experience. “
“The conference gave me many new ideas and enthusiasm for our work and I am looking forward to continue fostering the newly built ties and relations.”
Mrs. Mineke Hardeman Dr. Pavol Bargar Dr. Dorottya Nagy (ed) Prof. Dr. Anne-Marie Kool (ed)