Principal Officer for Mission and Evangelism, Rev Dr Ben Aldous, reports on CTE’s recent co-hosting of a webinar on “Mission, Race and Colonialism.”
On 26 May The Mission Research Network and The British & Irish Association for Practical Theology (BIAPT) Mission Studies group and brought together three emerging scholars from England for a morning of bite sized challenges around the theme, “Mission, Race and Colonialism.” Acknowledging there is much work to do in the process of decolonising mission, our excellent and passionate speakers shared a mixture of PhD research and reflections on their experiences.
Rev Shemil Mathew – born and brought up in Kerala, in a Christian family in the tradition of St Thomas and wide experience of working with Anglican communion churches in Asia and Africa and has worked as a teacher in Sri Lanka most recently being appointed the Vice Dean of Emmanuel College. Shemil reminded us that, ‘colonial oppression is not something of the past, but it has formulated the underlying structures of current hegemonical systems, including politics and the Church.’ Shemil also argued that ‘Colonialism has also defined the way we understand and, in many ways, do theology and that he was against the notion that what is written by the white man is objective theology or, simply, theology!
Eleasah Phoenix Louis – a sessional lecturer and about to complete her PhD at Christ Church Canterbury University shared some of her research working with those who had left the Christian faith to join the Rastifari movement (and other movements) because they felt Christianity was the religion of the oppressor diminishing and subjugating black people and their communities. Eleasah noted how those from the Rastifari tradition generally believe that the King James Version is a corrupted account of the true word of God, since English slave owners promoted incorrect readings of the Bible in order to control and manipulate slaves. Eleasah’s research was focused on wrestling with these challenges for mainline Protestantism. Eleasah was part of the response from the Baptist Union and CTBI to the Sewell report.
Rev Canon Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy – the BAME mission and ministry enabler for the Anglican Diocese of Leicester, an ordained minister with a passion for social justice and a desire to see global voices amplified in theological discourse also contributed a powerful critique of colonialism.
There was a rich engagement with the subject on the day as people spent time reflecting in breakout rooms. We noted, too that this gathering came a year and day after the senseless murder of George Floyd.
Videos of the session will be available on the BIAPT website in the coming weeks.