Am 1. Mai wurde ich in Portland, USA zum Doctor of Ministry (Dr. Min.) promoviert. Mit der Promotion habe ich „passed with distinction“ mein Onlinestudium im Programm „Leadership and Global Perspectives“ am George Fox Seminary erfolgreich abgeschlossen.
Vor 3,5 Jahren habe ich mit dem Programm begonnen. Seitdem habe ich unzählige Bücher gelesen (sowohl für die kursbegleitende Lektüre, die interdisziplinär das Themenfeld Leadership and global Perspectives begleuchtet, als auch fachspezifisch für meine Dissertation), Blogartikel verfasst (man kann sie unter der Kategorie Promotion nachlesen), an Studienreisen nach Seoul, London und Kapstadt teilgenommen, mich in wöchentlichen Chats mit meinen internationalen Kommilitonen ausgetauscht und Freundschaften geschlossen, Hausaufgaben verfasst (Essays, Field Research Reports, Learning Plans, Visual Ethnograhies, Personal Leadership Development Plans usw.), Vorträge und Pecha Kuchas über mein Forschungsthema gehalten und schließlich eine Dissertation verfasst.
„We need to forgive. I don’t want to die from a broken heart, like my mom.“Ruth, victim of resettlement during Apartheid
I heard this sentence from a 69-year old South-African Lady yesterday, named Ruth. Right now I am spending time in Capetown on a study trip of my doctoral program with my study fellows from all over the world. Ruth gave us a walk though the so called District 6, which played a crucial role during the apartheid time in Capetown. Being a multicultural, interreligious quarter before, this part of town was violently changed through the Apartheid regime and their laws. Colored and black inhabitants, living there for generations, where forced to leave their homes, that were destroyed lateron. Ruth led us through the streets of her childhood, from where she was resettled violently. Her mother died only two days after she was rerooted and sent to live somewhere else.
In the Museum of District 6 we heard similar stories that our guide Noor shared from his experience. His family was also resettled, after living in the quarter for generations. He was one of the founding members to set up a Museum in the district, introducing people to the story of the quarter and the experience some of the former inhabitants had to endure.
Both, Ruth and Noor shared the importance of forgiveness. It was important to them to stress this change in attitude and mindset, that’s needed in South-Africa and the significance of spreading this. It stroke me, how they invested constantly in the (still ongoing) process of reconciliation and the communicating this approach to history and the present time in South-Africa.
Forgiveness. Not seven times; but, seventy times seven. (Math. 18:22).
I asked myself, which impact the church had (and still has to have) on this process: In a religion that is all about community, using symbolic images like “Body of Christ” or “Kingdom,” reconciliation is about a life together on eye-level. Accepting all parts of the body with their gifts and problems is a challenging and ongoing task. Forgiveness is one way to ensure the metaboslism in the body of Christ. Perhaps it is so strinking and challenging to us in the west, since our individualization keeps us from getting on the next level communitywise. This thought is also linked with a point that Carolie Ramsey, a George Fox Advisor made earlier: „It is not about relationships, but far more about relation.“
In which ways can the christian faith contribute to the reconciliation process in South-Africa?
What are other actions and practices that can help the metabolism of the body of Christ in this process ?
Most storms are not produced by pressure, but more by de-pressure, a vacuum that draws and pumps masses of air. It’s not always the pushing force that produces a shift and motion, but sometimes also the lack or deficit. Some think, we live in times, were religion is more and more marginalized, up to a point of insignificance. Empty churches, forgotten tradition, lost hope and an absent God. Believers of various religions try to answer this situation: driven by a –howsoever-natured – missional emphasis, they tend to fill those holes. They use much effort, force and pressure to satisfy the vacuum.
In my doctoral work for on my dissertation on fresh expressions, I often stumble over the term “mixed economy.” It is a term coined by Archbishop Rowan Williams when he referred to fresh expressions and ‘inherited’ forms of church existing alongside each other, within the same denomination, in relationships of mutual respect and support.
In my ministry I experience, that mixed economy is not a theory – it gets real. Innovative and traditional forms coexist. It’s a fact, but mixed economy is getting interesting where it is not so much about autonomous coexistence. My ministry doesn’t primarily seek to supporting the particular ways of being church, but rather helps to peacefully or more preferable fruitfully coexist in synergy.
„To me, participating in the ‘mixed economy’ is the act of realising our ecumenical [a biblical word] status as the wider and deeper family of God. Its a challenge to not forsake of assembling ourselves together and instead to take a step forward to mixing with the full sweep of that assembly, even parts of it we don’t appreciate. When we do that [when I do that] i find myself moving away from a homogeneous corner of God’s body, away from a consumer mentality that chooses people like me and people who like me, and towards something that might occasionally be uncomfortable but is a more accurate picture of this peculiar aggregation that we are called up into.”