Ecumenical Ministerial Formation and Librarians

Seminar-Workshop on Asia-Pacific Forum for Library and Achives Management Training
Bangalore, India, June 14, 2004

Ecumenical Ministerial Formation and Librarians
CA sharing by Dr. Hope S. Antone
Christian Conference of Asia, Hong Kong

Three Parts/Sessions:
- Ecumenical Formation as History of the Ecumenical Movement
- Ecumenical Formation as Task of Theological Seminaries
- Role of Librarians in Ecumenical Ministerial Formation

I. Ecumenical Formation as History of the Ecumenical Movement

Word Association – what comes to mind when you hear the name, ecumenical movement?

Ecumenism is from OIKOUMENE
- Greek Oikoumene means “whole inhabited world”
- Oikos is for household and mene to manage
- In Christian traditional usage, it means the promotion of unity, cooperation or improved understanding between denominations
- In a broader sense, it means religious initiative toward world-wide unity.

History of the Ecumenical Movement
- Global Perspective – from the World Council of Churches (show a power point presentation from Ecu-Learn)
- Asian Perspective – (A History of the Ecumenical Movement in Asia jointly produced by CCA, WSCF A-P and APYMCA)

II. Ecumenical Formation as Task of Theological Seminaries
- What is the goal or purpose of your theological seminary?
- How is that made known to people?

Seminary’s Goal can be gleaned from:
- Its curriculum
- Its extra-curricular involvement
- Its lifestyle and ethos of the community
- Its mission or vision statement

According to the participants, the seminary’s goal can also be seen through:
- Its history;
- Its emphasis in the library holdings;
- Its students – their denomination and ethnic backgrounds;
- Its departments – representative of ethnic and language groupings of students?

Curricular Survey of Asian Seminaries

In 1999-2000 I conducted a curricular survey of the seminaries in Asia for my dissertation work. Although I was interested in finding how much of Christian Education was offered in Asian seminaries, I also discovered some things:

1. Theological education in Asia reflects a variety of mission orientations:
- Denominational
+ curriculum reflects denominational content;
+ curriculum emphasizes church growth.

- Nondenominational
+ curriculum reflects strong concern for church planting;
+ curriculum reflects traditional concept and practices of mission.

- Ecumenical
+ constitute a minority group in Asia;
+ curriculum includes a bit of ecumenism, comparative study of religions and (sometimes) dialogue (very often not required but as electives).

2. Theological education in Asia generally follows the Western curriculum.
- Curriculum based on a hierarchy of courses.
- Specialization in ‘classical’ or so-called ‘core’ courses.
- Difficulty to add new courses that are relevant/needed in Asian context.

3. Methodology is generally for cognitive or intellectual development often to the neglect of other aspects of human development.
- Lectures and debates in classrooms;
- Reliance on books or library research;
- Shunning creative and innovative methods as unscholarly.

Ecumenical Ministerial Formation as Task of Seminaries

Ministerial Formation, yes!
But why Ecumenical?
Why not Evangelical?

Ecumenical vs. Evangelical
Part of the allergy to ecumenism has to do with the dichotomy/rift/gap between ecumenism and evangelicalism.

- Whole inhabited world as God’s household n Good news
- Christ prays for unity – John 17:21 n God’s love for all (John 3:16)
- God wills unity – Ephesians 1:10 n Christ came that they may have life in its fullness (John 10:10)

Ecumenical and Evangelical
- Being ecumenical and being evangelical need not be opposed to each other; they even need to go together.
- Our evangelical conviction is that the good news of life in its fullness is for all, hence, the call is for all to participate together to help make that become a reality.
- Our ecumenical commitment is that we can meaningfully and effectively participate together if, while being rooted in our own faith communities, we are open to learning, working and living with other faiths.

n Vision of and movement towards unity of churches and Christians and Christian groups as they pray and work together for the unity of humankind and of all creation.
n Narrow meaning: promotion of unity, cooperation or improved understanding between distinct religious groups or denominations
n Broad meaning: religious initiative toward world-wide unity.

Biblical Bases for Ecumenism
· John 17:21
Unity does not mean a loss of identity but a relationship of sustaining love and complete obedience.
Like the unity Paul prayed for in Phil. 2:2 (same mind, same love, of one accord, one mind…)

· Ephesians 1:9-10
Mystery of God’s will = “gather up (unify) all things in (Christ)” in heaven and earth – refers to Christ’s breaking down dividing wall between Gentiles and Jews into a “new humanity who are not strangers/aliens but members of God’s household.

· Genesis 1:1-31
- Plurality is part of God’s design.
- Unity through interdependence and interconnectedness.
- Equality of the sexes.
- Partnership of humankind and with creation.

Shifts in Ecumenical Thinking
- From competition to cooperation of Christian denominations
- From condemnation to dialogue with other faiths
- From isolation to collaboration with civil society
- From disintegration to integrity of creation

III. Role of Librarians in Ecumenical Ministerial Formation

A. What is the role of the library in ecumenical ministerial formation?

The library has been compared/likened to:
- the soul of the community
- the mirror of the community
“show me what your books are and I will show you who you are…”
- the window to the world…
“read books… will travel…”
now: search the web… will travel…
- the repository of important documents
“of history and of history-in-the-making…”
“one who does not look to one’s past will not be able to move to the future…” – Filipino saying
“the past is what we see in front of us and the future is what we cannot see” – Maori saying
- what else?

Re-visiting our Libraries

Think for a moment about your library resources. Which do you have more of in terms of the following considerations?
- Dates of publication: 2001-2004; 1991-2000; 1981-1990; 1071-1980; 1961-1970; 1951-1960; 1950 and before.
- Continental representation of writers: America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Pacific, Australia, ANZ, etc.
- Mode of acquisition: by purchase, free subscription, donation, or hand-me-down books.

What does this say of our libraries?

State of 3 ‘average’ Asian seminary libraries I am most familiar with:
- Majority of the books are old;
- Very small/few holdings;
- Majority of the books are written by Western authors/scholars;
- Majority of these books were given as donations from missionaries or from Western seminary libraries.

What does this say about these seminaries?
I am not saying that these old books are no good. What I am saying is that these are not enough. Having more of the old Western resources and not having any from our own regions’ resources does not reflect well of our seminaries. It means that our seminaries are in poor health.

B. What is the role of librarians and archivists in ecumenical ministerial formation?
From my readings I gathered that:
- They collect and preserve documents of kings and priests (3000 BC)
- Guard precious ancient manuscripts (ecclesiastical libraries)
- As teachers of other fields
- Today – library science and librarianship. According to Rita England, in addition to library science and librarianship, librarians also must have theological understanding and knowledge of Asian resource materials.

If the library is the ‘soul’ of the seminary or the ‘window’ to the world, what is the role of librarians today?

Participants’ Responses:
Collecting annual lectures and publishing them
Mobile library
Library service scheme – internal and external services
Orientation to students on the use of library (teaching role)
Educator of the community – literacy and reading capacity, promotion of cultural legacy, seminar on using the library.

If you had your way, what do you want to do to improve the library? What is your dream of a good theological library?

Participants’ Dream:
· For librarians to be social mentors on various issues; information specialists and “technocrats” – up-to-date with technology.
· Groups of librarians with general knowledge, are subject specialist librarians, and information specialists.
· Networking of librarians and libraries
· For the library to become a community library – open to others, even of other faith – an interfaith library?

Challenge for Asian and Pacific Librarians Today

Librarians are called to help open the window a little wider by…
- Proactive acquisition of up-to-date and contextually relevant resources.
- Proactive campaign among the faculty of new and contextual resources.
- Making links with other libraries, groups with online resources and making these known to library users.
- Creating interest in new and relevant materials – e.g. a ‘book review day’ each month, etc.
- Facilitating and encouraging field research – and exposing students to both qualitative as well as quantitative types of research.
- Suggesting possible research topics to students.
- Facilitating the recording of oral history.
- Facilitating the collection of Asian and Pacific resources – not only the scholarly resources but also other expressions of folk tales, proverbs, stories, art, music/songs, dance, drama, etc.
- Sharing information on the arrival of new theses by Asian and Pacific writers to the wider network.
- Sharing information about current research and book writing projects of professors and students with the network.
- Exchange of information about national journals…, etc.

Some Sources of Resources in the Region:
The following list is not comprehensive or extensive enough but I am quite familiar with these groups which have very good resources for more contextual theologizing:

1. Christian Conference of Asia – reading the Bible with new eyes (Asian eyes), promotion of Asian contextual theologies, Catholic-Protestant cooperation, interfaith cooperation.
- CTC Bulletin
- CCA News
- publications by various desks – GS, EGY, JID, FMU
- joint publications with other groups – on history, interfaith, etc. <resources> or

2. Asian Women’s Resource Centre for Culture and Theology – promotion of Asian feminist theologizing, reading the Bible through women’s eyes.
- In God’s Image
- Alternative leadership
- Asian Feminist Theology modules, etc. or

3. Documentation for Action Groups in Asia (DAGA) and JustPeace Centre
- DAGA Info (on-line)
- Voices
- JustPeace newsletter or or

4. Programme for Theologies and Cultures in Asia (PTCA)
- Journal of Theologies and Cultures in Asia

5. Asian Christian Higher Education Institute
- Quest and

6. Theological Associations – ATESEA, etc.

7. World Student Christian Federation Asia-Pacific Region - “Witnessing to our faith in the university”
- Praxis
- Leadership Training Modules (SELF)
- Young women doing theology
- Campus ministry

8. Asia Pacific Alliance of YMCA
Christian witness to the wider society…
- Leadership building, etc.

9. Asian Christian Art Association (ACAA) - very good materials with Christian art done by Asian artists. or




Contact Persons *

Mrs. Elizabeth T. Pulanco, Convenor, email:
Mr. Yesan Sellan, Secretary,,

Copyright ForATL 2007. All rights reserved.

webdesign by: Hilda V. Putong@2003-2009