More than 30 students, faculty and staff from around the world were welcomed here July 6 for the 2014 Global Institute of Theology (GIT).
In welcoming the students to the campus of Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana (Latin American Biblical University), Edwin Mora, the university’s rector, said, “As an ecumenical institution, we feel honored to be a part of the GIT with the Reformed tradition. I want you to feel you are in your home. We will learn from each other. We want to grow in friendship, wisdom and spirituality. May God bless all of us at this time as we begin this global experience. May we celebrate God’s name together.”
Working under the theme “Transforming Mission, Community and Church” the students will spend three weeks learning with each other with classes taught by noted Reformed academics.
“I’m looking forward to learn more to transform the church as the body of Christ and the communities,” said Kelly Bwalya, a student from Zambia. “Another thing I’m looking forward to is the contextual reading. As preachers, we want to speak our minds, not what the text preaches. When I go back I should speak the mind of the text, not my mind.”
“From my point of view, I think this is an opportunity where I will share ideas with people from a variety of other churches and through this sharing of ideas we shall have a way forward for the crisis the church is facing today,” said Gilbert Esambe, a student from Cameroon.
“I’m looking forward to better understanding my Reformed tradition in a Latin American context,” said Esmeralda Morales from Guatemala. “Because I’ve been Presbyterian for a long time now in a very particular Guatemalan way, we don’t know how we are different and how we are alike with other traditions.”
Students agreed that this was a special opportunity to interact ecumenically with both peers and seasoned faculty from around the world. The students have come from more than a dozen different countries.
“Most important is that you are together and that you are a global community for three weeks,” said Douwe Visser, WCRC executive secretary for theology and GIT secretary. “You come with your stories here, stories of hope, joy, grief and concern–and you share that. And when you go home you will be a global community. This is a very deep once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
This fourth GIT runs July 5-28. The GIT is an intensive short-term academic program designed to give theological students and faculty from all over the world an opportunity to learn, teach, and do theology in an inter-contextual and ecumenical way, situating the theological task in local, regional and world contexts.