If the biblical call to be God’s holy people is an identity and a vocation, what does that calling look like among the diverse Nazarene family across the Eurasia Region, with all its complexities and challenges?
That is the question that will be asked at the upcoming Regional Theology Conference, held in two locations in conjunction with the Eurasia Regional Conferences: 4 November 2019, in Cyprus, and 23 January 2020, in Hyderabad, India.
“This came out of a need,” said Mária Gusztinné-Tulipán, a member of the organizing committee from Hungary. “There’s a lot of issues that the world – and we Christians, also – face about our identity. Sometimes you have hot debates at specific levels around very challenging issues.”
The theme was drawn from 1 Peter 1:16 – 2:10, which was written to members of the early church, calling them to live out their identity and vocation in a hostile environment. The passage has haunting relevance today in the Eurasia Region, asking how believers can express their calling and identity in these diverse contexts.
Rather than being lured into cultural debates about questions of identity, the committee aims for the conference participants to examine scripture and Wesleyan theology around identity and vocation as a holy people of God.
“That should inform what kind of responses we give to these challenging questions, generally as the Church of the Nazarene in Eurasia, and also in our context in each area of the region,” Gusztinné-Tulipán said. “If we find our identity in Christ, that will bring us all together in the church to act rather than debate.”
Four main papers will address the theme from four areas of emphasis: missiology, pastoral/practical theology, historical theology and biblical theology. Titles include: “On Earth as it is in Heaven,” “Christian Discipleship in a Time of Uncertainty,” and “Participating in the Mission of God.”
There will also be several short response papers (in each area), and time set aside for small group dialogue around the presentations. Representatives of all four Nazarene colleges in Eurasia will be among the nearly two dozen presenters. The day will end with sharing holy communion.
“I think the importance of such a conference for a global church like ours cannot be overstated,” said Subhash Dongardive, a member of the conference planning committee from India, and director of advanced theological studies at South Asia Nazarene Bible College. “It helps the Nazarene scholars, leaders, along with the participants, to tie the loose ends of theological ideas and concepts together, resolve theological issues, and clarify theological doubts. It is rather dangerous to leave them unaddressed in the context of theological confusion and chaos in which we serve.”
Having the conference in both regional conference locations – Cyprus and India – is designed to increase participation.
“Whenever Global or Regional Theological Conferences are held, representation has been sent from South Asia; however, it makes participation very limited,” said Dongardive. “Having a separate Theology Day for India and South Asia (Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh) would make the wider participation possible from each South Asian country and their respective districts. Also, some of our scholars get the opportunity to write and present papers on a wider platform of the Church.”
Attendance is not just for theologians or academics, but is open to anyone who wishes to attend.
Registration is available until September 30th 2019 on the regional conference website: www.invisibleconference.org.
This article has been written by Gina Grate Pottenger and published in the September 2019 edition of Where Worlds Meet.