Better Together provides a space to share experiences with – and strategies for engaging – three critical global issues that PC(USA) global partners are challenging us to address together as the body of Christ. These three issues are 1) addressing root causes of poverty, especially as it impacts women and children; 2) sharing the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ; and 3) working for reconciliation in cultures of violence, including our own. The purpose of Better Together is to feed a conversation to shape concrete action strategies at the October 2012 “Dallas II: Better Together” consultation and beyond.
Violeta Rocha is President of the Latin American Biblical University in San José, Costa Rica.
The title of this gathering is suggestive: being together to make a collective impact for God’s mission. This idea reminds me of how valuable education processes are, those that are present in the mission towards the most needy. From the PC(USA)’s position on mission, it is evident that not only do a diversity of ministries respond to the important themes that orient the doing of mission, but also the different ways of learning and un-learning that are the result of living together, sharing and working together.
From the perspective of ecumenical theological education at the Latin American Biblical University, we participate in these pedagogic processes through the intercultural encounter in which this ministry is engaged and to which it is committed. Learning Theology, Bible and Ministry together, is also the collective construction of life together, through the classroom, student residences, extracurricular activities and everyday life in community, both in Costa Rica and throughout Latin America. These experiences confirm that the sharing of the Good News is a reality that is built together.
The diversity of Latin America and the Caribbean moves us to a constant recreation of mission, in the midst of the changes and struggles of different groups who cry for justice and for the recognition of their situation and fundamental needs. The world financial situation that deepens economic inequality, as well as internal and international migration, generates contexts of violence against women, children and the elderly, and cultural “others”, as well as an environment of hopelessness. This context not only challenges the way we do mission, it also invites us to new ways of doing mission through lay persons, pastors, nuns and priests and community leaders. For this ecumenical, intercultural theological education and Biblical interpretation are necessary, not only for articulating a theological discourse, but for an alternative pastoral and social praxis.
The working emphases for the mission of PC(USA) have a political dimension, which we should not doubt or fear. It is political because everything we do in God’s mission has a public dimension that is carried out based on a spirituality of commitment toward the needy and excluded. The spirituality of mission is lived out in the everyday lives of socially situated men, women and children.
This is not the task of individuals, but of communities in mission, that becomes environments for learning together with the needy of our societies and communities. Perhaps we should consider more closely ways of working as communities of mission, with clear objectives, responding to situations of poverty, as well as understanding the causes of these situations. Working together, these situations may be transformed with the simplest of actions, as well as the organized struggle for socio-economic rights in other instances. We observe that the words with which we announce the love of Christ are accompanied by changes in the ministries of our churches, communities and institutions. The PC(USA)’s emphases for mission are mediated by a commitment to processes for peace and reconciliation, with justice, where cultures of violence must become cultures of peace.
Ecumenical theological and intercultural education is a step in this direction.