The EMS Bible Workshop was held from 29th September to 6th October 2018. The workshop was attended by delegates from 8 countries namely Cameroon, Germany, Ghana, Hongkong, India, Indonesia, South Africa and South Korea. Out of all the 19 delegates attended, 8 were women. The workshop was organised together with the United Theological College (UTC), Bengaluru, at Ecumenical Resource Centre. The Principal of UTC Rev. Dr. Ch. Vasantha Rao warmly welcomed the delegates in the community worship service and Rt. Rev. Dr. Royce Manoj Victor introduced the workshop theme “Reading the Bible through the Eyes of Another” in his preaching. By the end of the workshop, every participant was awarded a participant certificate.
A formal introductory session with a symbol affirming “fullness of life” from individual’s context was a novel way of introduction. Rev. Dr. D. Rathnakara Sadananda, CSI General Secretary, had gifted shoulder bags for the participants, which was distributed at the time of introductions.
The Bible workshop had included a public lecture on “Mother Tongue Hermeneutics” by Prof. Philip Laryea from Ghana; visiting a few places of significance; A team exposure programme, one team to the Karnataka Southern Diocese of Church of South India; Karnataka Theological College, Mangalore, and another team to Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, Madurai.
The participatory approach, contextual reading of the text, was conceived as “Bible Sharing” that takes seven steps: Opening prayer or song; Listening to the Bible text; giving voice to the biblical text; Meditation in silence; Sharing insights; Acting together; Closing with prayer or song (emphasis applied). Through such an exercise one could understand the context of every participant, context-specific listening and reflecting that resonates with the biblical text. The Biblical texts used for reflections were St. John 14, Book of Ruth, St. Mark 9, Galatians 3 and St. Luke 24 respectively.
Five academic papers on different themes were presented, which was followed by small groups discussions. Two to three sub-themes were framed out of such discussions. Such an exercise was helpful to understand diverse contexts and contextual reflections in relation to the theme.
The Bible workshop method has the potential to transform- breaking monologue, insensitivity towards another, reflecting beyond one’s political state boundaries, etc. Such workshops should percolate to the local congregations. It is more probable that such workshop can lead towards inter-religious sharing of scriptures in the days to come, something India is experiencing, that can stand as an antidote to growing religious fundamentalism and communalism across the globe.
As CSI-EMS liaison officer, I express sincere thanks to the EMS- Commissary Secretary-General Dr. Kerstin Neumann; Dr. Gabriele Mayer, Head of Department of Gender, and Intercultural Education; Dr. Bernhard Dinkelaker, EMS Former General Secretary; Rev. Solomon Paul Benjamin, Liaison Secretary for East Asia and India; Ms. Regine Nagel, India Desk; Rev. Dr. D. Rathnakara Sadananda, CSI General Secretary, and Rev. Dr. Ch. Vasantha Rao, Principal & Staff, UTC; all the Participants.