International theological congress to debate mission and ecumenism



Over 100 theology students from Latin America and other regions of the world will participate in an international and ecumenical theological congress that will take place in parallel to the World Council of Churches' (WCC) 9th Assembly.


With the theme "Mission and Ecumenism in Latin America", the 2006 ecumenical congress will take place 12 - 25 February at the Lutheran School of Theology (EST) of São Leopoldo, 35 kilometres from Porto Alegre, the Assembly venue.


Two former WCC general secretaries - Konrad Raiser, who first proposed the idea of the congress, and Emilio Castro - are among the speakers. Gottfried Brakemeier, João Batista Libânio, Viola Raheb, Marcelo Barros, K. M. George, Edla Eggert, Ulrich Duchrow, Bernard Ugeux and Juan Sepúlveda are a few of the more than 50 theologians and ecumenists who are scheduled to speak at the congress.


"In a context like the Latin American one, with a religious market characterized by bitter competition, where the churches that proliferate the most are opposed to ecumenism, the congress intends to take advantage of the energy of the Assembly to offer new incentives for churches to get to know and to collaborate with each other," said the congress coordinator, EST ecumenism professor Dr Rudolf Von Sinner.


Participants will debate issues like the contemporary theology of mission and ecumenism, the relationship between ecumenism and Pentecostalism, between churches and civil society, inter-religious dialogue, churches and sexuality, theological education, ecumenical spirituality and cultural diversity, among others.


The congress will not be limited to the academic arena, and will include visits to social projects like the Landless Workers' Movement and the Unemployed Workers' Movement. Participants will also take part in various elements of the 9th Assembly programme, such as the "ecumenical conversations", the Mutirão and a plenary session on Latin America.


The congress is being sponsored by the EST, together with the Association of Evangelical Theological Seminaries (ASTE), the Latin American and Caribbean Community of Ecumenical Theological Education (CETELA), with the support of the WCC Ecumenical Theological Education (ETE) network.


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