Nieuw artikel over Bridging Gaps

Er verscheen een mooi artikel over Bridging Gaps in de International Review of Mission, geschreven door Kirsten van der Ham en Geke van Vliet: “Experiencing Ecumenism in an International Theological Exchange Programme. Bridging the Gap between Grassroots Ecumenism and the Ecumenical Movement”. Het artikel verscheen in het Engels.

Characteristic of  the Bridging Gaps programme is its focus on contextual theology, as one of  the crucial aspects for ecumenical theological education in the 21st century.

Contextual theology was identified by the Magna Charta on Ecumenical Formation in Theological Education in the 21st century – introduced by the WCC in 2008 as guidelines for ecumenical theological education. In focusing on contextual theology, the BridgingGaps programme aims to facilitate a space in which participants can conduct societally relevant theological research on challenges in their own contexts, can learn about each other’s contexts, and are exposed to the Dutch context. The unique aspect of  BridgingGaps is that it aims to create awareness of  how culture and context shape theology, and, in this way, to bridge the gaps between contexts of  participants and the Dutch context(s). Participants in the Bridging Gaps programme form an intercultural and interdenominational community of  learners in the city of  Amsterdam. Furthermore, the programme aims to equip the participants to become leaders in their society and churches to work toward a more humane world. This article seeks to portray how participation in such a programme influences the students’ attitudes toward believers of different denominations or faiths during the programme and in the long term.

With the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the exchange programme coming up, we carried out research on the impact of the programme. All former participants received an invitation to fill out a questionnaire about their experience with the programme and their development after participating in Bridging Gaps regarding their (academic) career and involvement in church and society.

Bridging Gaps offers participants the opportunity to experience denominational and intercultural differences at a grassroots level. The participants meet each other, share in each other’s interests, and show an openness to Christian unity, as one respondent states: “I have been more motivated to have ecumenical spirits, tolerance for others who have different opinions, and to respect each other.”

At the same time, many of the former participants have become church leaders or are in other ways involved in ecumenism at a theological level. While the participants shared in grassroots ecumenism, they have taken their experiences with them to an institutional level. The experiences in grassroots ecumenism proved valuable for their theological understanding of the ecumenical movement, which they learned about in their larger theological education. A former participant, now a lecturer in hermeneutics at a university, stated, “I use concepts of intercultural hermeneutics learned (and experienced alive!) during my Bridging Gaps programme. In two words: invaluable experience.” Finally, participants shared that they step outside their boundaries of their own denominations in their work. They work together with people from other denominations or at academic departments from other traditions.

Lees het gehele artikel hier.