Women theologians gather to discuss issues

The Conference on Women Theological Education and Women in Theological Movements was held on June 21 to 25, 2015 at Shalom Center, Manila, Philippines. This was organized by the task force set up by FTESEA after envisioning the need to prioritize women development in their programs. The members of the task force were: Dr. Kwok Pui Lan (Chair), Ms. Bern Jagunos, and Ms. Rebecca Asedillo. They were later joined by Ms. Norma Dollaga (convener of local hosting committee), Dr. Judy Berinai of Sabah Theological Seminary, Dr. Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro of Silliman University, and Dr. Wai Ching Angela Wong of the Chinese University of Hong Kong as part of the planning committee.

The conference was organized for the following purposes:

1. for fact-finding and data-gathering about women and leadership in theological education in Southeast Asia and women doing theology and practical ministry, so that FTESEA can better partner with ATESEA to strengthen women in theological education.

2. discussing the issues and the future of Asian feminist theology.

3. exploring partnership and collaboration among Asian and Asian North American female theological educators.

Dr. Kwok Pui Lan reported, “Thirty-one women were invited to the conference: 14 women in theological education, 4 women in theological movements, 4 ecumenical partners, 2 representatives from FTESEA (Kwok Pui Lan and Bern Jagunos), 6 local hosting committee members, and 1 observer (see Appendix 1). The ecumenical partners included representatives from Christian Conference of Asia, Council for World Mission, Ecumenical Theological Education of the World Council of Churches, and the United Board of Christian Higher Education in Asia. Eleven of the conference participants were faculty, alumnae, and students of the South East Asian Graduate School of Theology or its successor the ATESEA Theological Union. The conference was a communal event, with participants sharing leadership in worship, panel discussion, group facilitation and reporting, and cultural celebration. Several grassroots groups struggling for justice issues for migrants, urban poor, indigenous peoples, human rights, and the environment came to share their testimonies and hope.”

According to Dr Pui Lan, the conference achieved the following outcomes:

1. We collected data and facts on women in theological education and women in theological movements by requesting participants to fill out a survey before the conference. The data from the survey were compiled and collated and a report of about 100 pages was produced.

2. We identified the changing global, Asian, and local contexts for Asian feminist theology and emergent issues Asian feminist theologians have to face.

3. We have formed a network of women in theological education and women in theological movements in Asia. We identified important linkages between theological education and grassroots theological movements in the struggle for justice for women and in the articulation of theological visions.

4. We strengthened the relationship with our ecumenical partners, which would contribute to further collaboration.

5. We made concrete recommendations to FTESEA, ATESEA, and the theological institutions.

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