Treasure chests and grandmas: musings on mission education

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The new issue of ANVIL journal of theology and mission is out now. Offering the fruits of an international hui (gathering) hosted by the CMS Mission Education team, it is stuffed full of fascinating ideas that pique the imagination.

Hui is a Maori word for a particular type of gathering in which not only ideas but also our lives and communities are shared. Had we been in Aotearoa/New Zealand we would have all slept in the same meeting room but I spared us that – although now I wonder if I should have been more courageous!

We were from all over – Kenya, the Philippines, USA, Australia, NZ, Scotland, South Korea, South Africa, Germany, the Netherlands and England. The idea was to have a gathering that was not too structured so that, to a great extent, we could create the agenda and content together. So for four days we listened to one another; we dreamed, created, innovated and learned together.

We soon realised that we could be so much more creative in our delivery, our content, who is involved and what we even think theological education is! I think Covid-19 has revealed that to us even more clearly. Of course, for many it is a tragedy and has caused loss and suffering, but it is also an opportunity to reset, to rethink and reimagine our world and how we want to live in it.

It is also a fantastic opportunity to rethink what we believe theological education to be and how we learn and teach. Even prioritising learning over teaching might be a good start!

Indian novelist Arundhati Roy considers the pandemic as a portal, “a gateway between this world and the next.” She urges us not to return to normality but to reimagine our world anew so “we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” Like feminist writer Rebecca Solnit, she sees hope in the possibilities for newness and change but that this will not come about automatically – we must be prepared to struggle for it.

Do have a look at this latest ANVIL and see what excites you about mission education.

Reflect upon theology and spirituality by moving through your house – literally. Or leave home and experience theological homelessness to find home again. Both Barbara Brown Taylor and Rebecca Solnit extol the virtues of getting lost – try it.

Read about what grandmothers have to offer – I totally recommend that one!

Try “embrace” as not only a metaphor but also a practice of learning in community – admittedly difficult to do with physical distancing still in place.

Or let’s think about learning and education as treasure. Education could be envisioned as a collection of treasure, from experience, knowledge, wisdom, culture and practices, which can all be shared. All of us can bring things to add to the treasure chest and we can take things from the treasure chest. Wisdom and practices from different communities can be shared in a relational way.

What might be in your treasure chest that you want to share with the world?

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