Dear Colleagues, sisters and brothers
This is a slightly belated letter to thank you most heartily on behalf of the Southern African Missiological Society (SAMS) for your participation in the Joint Conference of Academic societies in Religion and Theology at the University of Stellenbosch from 22-26 June 2009. Those who were not able to participate in the conference may want to have a look at the full program of the Joint Conference which is attached to this letter for your convenience. You will find that it is absolutely mammoth.
Barring the cold weather and the serious challenge of being put up in a hostel room and the slight hiccup on the night of the conference dinner when the bus got stuck and perhaps a few other logistical arrangements that could have been done differently, the conference has been an overwhelming experience. For some of us it has indeed been an ecumenical learning experience par excellence. This has been attributable mainly to the presence at the conference of colleagues from Botswana, DRC, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A very special word of thanks to them. Special reference needs to be made to the presence of Dr Andre Karamaga at the conference. The fact that he sacrificed an important meeting with Evangelisches Missions Werken (EMW) in Hamburg, Germany to come to the Stellenbosch conference, has not gone unnoticed. His keynote address at conference was extremely helpful in understanding some of the theological reflection and strategic thinking that is taking place in the AACC currently.
The drafting of the conference statement is in process, inputs having been received from Dr Tharcisse Gatwa and Dr Dietrich Werner very soon after the conference. Our three Unisa colleagues, Genevieve James, Klippies Kritzinger and Nico Botha are working on the conference statement or action plan which will be out soon. Let us hope that the process set in motion by the action plan, building on what has been achieved previously, will facilitate some strategic advancement of a greater collaboration between diverse stakeholders in theological education and ministerial formation in Africa: between colleagues in theology at different institutions across the continent, between Faculties of theology, seminaries, schools and whoever puts a premium on theological education in Africa.
The Joint Conference has been a great experience particularly because of the very rich crop of papers read. A very special word of thanks goes to all the presenters who have graciously submitted their papers for publication in a special edition of the missiological journal, Missionalia. The Missionalia editor, Dr Genevieve James, has communicated with you on the matter. May I use this opportunity to once again call for the submission of papers to be considered for publication as a special offering to the Edinburgh 2010 study process.
On request of Dr Dietrich Werner your attention is drawn to the fact that provisional articles from some of the participants in the Stellenbosch conference could be viewed at the following web address: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/education-and-ecumenical-formation You may also want to take a look at the press statement released by ETE of the WCC on the Stellenbosch conference. This could be viewed at http://www.oikoumene.org/en/news-management/eng/a/article/1722/theological-education-dis.html
A very special word of thanks is to be extended to Dr Dietrich Werner, Coordinator of Ecumenical Theological Education (ETE) of the WCC, not only for securing a grant in aid of the conference, but also for his great understanding of the strategic issues involved in partnerships and networks in theological education. Without Jansie Kilian, currently still administrative secretary to SAMS, all of the very complex logistical arrangements around the conference, would not have been able to do. We owe her a very special debt of gratitude.
To all participants, thank you very much for attending the conference.
In conclusion I thought a little note on the 2010 SAMS congress at the Free State University might be appropriate. Please take note that the date is set for 13-15 January 2010 and the theme will be Missional Church in Southern Africa: 1999-2009 A Moment of Truth? This is the first call for papers. A more extensive flyer on the congress in reference to the theme and format will appear in the SAMS journal, Missionalia. Thanks to Genevieve James, the Missionalia editor, who has kindly offered to write us a piece on the January congress and to have it published in the journal.
In the missio Dei
Nico A Botha
SAMS General Secretary