A two-week intensive theological program set to take place during the World Council of Churches' 10th General Assembly will provide the next generation of ecumenical leaders an opportunity to relate the event's themes of peace and justice to the church unity in the 21st century.
The Ecumenical Theological Education program of the WCC is developing a special curriculum to be used at the Global Ecumenical Theological Institute (GETI), which will run Oct. 25 to Nov. 9, alongside the WCC assembly in Busan, South Korea.
Around 150 younger theology students from around the world and from different Christian backgrounds will join the program.
Students will be able to download the GETI reader, "Essential Guide to Courses on Ecumenism in the 21st century", highlighting new trends and developments in ecumenism to prepare for the program.
The reader will be available on the Global Digital Library on Theology and Ecumenism, also called GlobeTheoLib, a joint project of the WCC and Globethics.net.
Selected readings cover themes explored and addressed by the world churches body over the past ten years.
"The curriculum attempts to deepen intercultural perspectives in theological education and develop a sense of belonging on mutual concerns of dialogue, justice, mission and evangelism," said the Rev. Dr Dietrich Werner, WCC's program coordinator for ecumenical theological education.
"Such knowledge is vital for the future of world Christianity," he said.
The theological initiative will also relate themes of ecumenism in the 21st century to the WCC General Assembly theme, "God of life, lead us to justice and peace."
The National Council of Churches of Christ USA will be sending 25 students from North America to the program through a $210,000 grant by The Henry Luce Foundation.
Although the General Assembly doesn't kick off until October 30, GETI participants will be arriving a few days earlier in Seoul to take introductory courses on Asian Christianity, Asian theologies and
interfaith realities as well as the specific Korean historical, religious and social context, according to the program's outline document.
GETI students will then take part in the historic assembly in Busan, joining in main plenaries, ecumenical discussions, workshops and exhibitions. During the assembly, the theology students will also listen to lectures by a GETI faculty member.
During the weekends, GETI participants will take trips to Gwangju to learn from lecturers at the Honam Theological University and Seminary about the Christian mission history and the role of churches of democratization of Korea.
Werner emphasized the need for Christian seminaries to renew theological programs with focus on ecumenical witness for justice, peace, holistic mission and interfaith dialogue.
"Only if churches take up their mandate for higher education of their ministers and promote a strategic coalition between lived spirituality of Christian faith and education and critical reasoning, they will have a chance to counter religious fanaticism spreading around the world," said Werner.