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AAR Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17-20, 2018

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Ecclesiological Investigations Unit
Theme: Ecclesial Courage in Contemporary Practice
Miriam Perkins, Emmanuel Christian Seminary, Presiding
Saturday - 1:00 PM-3:00 PM
Hyatt Regency-Capitol 2 (Fourth Level)

As the 2018 AAR Annual-Meeting focuses upon the role of religion in the public sphere, two of this year’s Ecclesiological Investigations Group sessions will explore the virtue of ecclesial courage in the public sphere. In this second, practical session we will look at the parrhesiastic speech as a form of ecclesial courage in the modern context especially in the witness of creative minorities within the Church such as lay gay movements; principles and narratives that inform the practice of sanctuary in order to understand the ecclesiologies of sanctuary churches as sign of unity in Christ; function of martyr stories that are deeply shaped and reshaped by changing perceptions of the mission of the church; as well as the example of aging, mainline Protestant church in Dayton, OH which is being revitalized through its efforts to minister to an at-risk population of east African refugees in the city.

Travis LaCouter, University of Oxford
Bold Speech or Idle Chatter? Institutional Parrhesia and the Church's Many Voices

Parrhesiastic speech is bold, transparent, and public. It is also, crucially, vulnerable speech, subject to misunderstanding, misappropriation, and even punishment. This paper considers parrhesiastic speech as a form of ecclesial courage in the modern context. Previously, official ecclesial organs like bishops' conferences had been able to exercise parrhesiastic witness in society (e.g. at Medellín); but the terms of the "parrhesiastic game" have changed dramatically since the mid-twentieth century. I find a source of parrhesiastic renewal in the witness of creative minorities within the Church, especially lay gay movements. Such movements practice parrhesiastic courage both on behalf of the Church and, equally, to the Church itself.

Erin Michele Brigham, University of San Francisco
Expressions of Sanctuary in the San Francisco Bay Area: An Ecclesiological Analysis

This project will offer a comparison across different stages of discernment among sanctuary churches in San Francisco—those who have publicly declared sanctuary and those who have not declared sanctuary but express sanctuary in practice. Through a qualitative analysis of interviews, the project will highlight implicit assumptions and theological commitments related to public engagement as an expression of church mission while complicating the notion that there exists a single public sphere to which theology speaks. It will also make explicit the principles and narratives that inform the practice of sanctuary in order to understand the ecclesiologies of sanctuary churches.

Jeremy M. Bergen, University of Waterloo
The Ecumenism of Martyrdom and the Mission of the Church

Pope John Paul II asserted that the courageous witness of Christian martyrs of different traditions are a most powerful sign of unity in Christ. In this presentation, I test this thesis, advanced by other Christian leaders as well, in relation to the Anglican and Catholic Ugandan Martyrs of the 1880s, and the Anabaptist martyrs of the 16th century, killed by Catholic authorities. These cases show how the function of martyr stories is deeply shaped and reshaped by changing perceptions of the mission of the church. Martyrology may foster disunity and thereby undermine the reconciling mission of the church. Drawing on the themes of the cross and the communion of the saints, I offer constructive suggestions for reframing Christian martyrdom in ways that support the reconciling mission of the church and advance its unity.

Herbie Miller, Corinth Presbyterian Church, Dayton, OH
"There's Room at the Table": One Church's Story of Welcoming Refugees

This paper takes up the topic of the church and courage. The subject of this paper is Corinth Presbyterian Church in Dayton, OH, and its outreach ministry Room at the Table, a tutoring program for east African refugees in the city. This paper will accomplish two goals. First, it will tell the story of how an aging, mainline Protestant church is being revitalized through its efforts to minister to an at-risk population. Second, it will reflect critically on three values the church has learned to embrace as it embodies an outwardly focused ecclesiology of welcome: situational awareness, organizational flexibility, and creative partnerships. At a moment in America's history when xenophobic speech is normalized by the highest political office in the country, Corinth Presbyterian Church proclaims and embodies a counter-rhetoric of hospitality that is attuned to the specific needs of its community.

Business Meeting:
Brian Flanagan, Marymount University
Vladimir Latinovic, University of Tübingen
Vatican II Studies Unit
Theme: 1968: A Turning Point in the Reception of Vatican II?
Paul Crowley, Santa Clara University, Presiding
Saturday - 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Hyatt Regency-Centennial G (Third Level)

To what extent might the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) be seen as an effort of Catholicism to respond to the rapidly changing social context of modernity in the 1960s, and its reception as conditioned by the upheavals to established pattens of life and society symbolized in the events of 1968? These papers explore the complex interactions of movements in culture and society with currents of Catholic theology, including the ways in which they condition the reception and interpretation of the orientations of Vatican II. Understanding the roots of these movements in the 1960s illuminates the sometimes polarizing debates that continue within contemporary Catholicism.

Dries Bosschaert, University of Leuven
Comrades in the Attainment of the Universal Common Good: The Genesis and Reception of Vatican II’s Views of Workers’ Rights in Light of the Events of 1968

1968 is often considered a revolution of the working class joined by a new generation, crying out for social justice and opposing authority in all its forms, including the Roman Catholic magisterium. However, concerning one central theme, namely workers’ rights, this image needs to be adjusted; for during and after Vatican II, representatives of the Catholic labour movement engaged in the struggle to integrate their experience with workers of all ideologies at the Council, to get their rights included in the conciliar texts, and to safeguard the reception of these rights in a postconciliar era sure to be marked by ecclesial and societal conflicts. The study of the activities and positions of Catholic trade unionists and employers during and after the Council thus presents an excellent case study to consider the general question of whether Vatican II was either teaching or serving the working class, either preparing or provoking the turmoil of 1968.

Daniel Rober, Sacred Heart University
The Communio School’s Failure of Nerve and the Legacy of 1968

The Communio school of theology, with its namesake journal, officially began in 1972 but owes much of its impetus to the events of 1968. As evidenced in the work and reflections of Joseph Ratzinger, theologians who formed this school experienced that year as a kind of shock that this paper argues augured a failure of nerve and a separation in their thought between ressourcement and aggiornamento that presaged later close association with church authority. This has been exacerbated in younger generations, and by the tendency of the Communio school to dedicate itself to exposition of John Paul II’s theology of the body. These tendencies have both sidelined Communio theologians from some important conversations in the church and have abetted the rise of neo-traditionalism in theology and other areas of church life. This paper contends that the Communio school must embrace its dynamic roots in the nouvelle théologie and a more robust theological creativity, and in so doing would offer a valuable service to the unity of the church.

Katherine Dugan, Springfield College
Catholics in the Long Wake of Humanae Vitae: NFP, "Life Issues", and Polarized American Catholicism

Fifty years after its release, the legacy of Humanae Vitae has had a polarizing impact on contemporary Catholicism in the U.S. This paper begins with an analysis of what I call the contemporary "NFP subculture," a group of twenty-first century Catholics who are committed to following the teachings Humanae Vitae. I examine how responses to Humanae Vitae have divided American Catholics along a fault line defined by sexual ethics. Finally, I propose that Humanae Vitae initiated an ongoing and thorough-going disagreement over the nature of the relationship between Catholic and U.S. cultural norms. This paper studies how he events of 1968, filtered thru interpretations of Humanae Vitae, recast the polarizations of postconciliar Catholicism in the U.S. The divide is less between pro- and anti-Vatican II and more between is different interpretations of the relationship between Catholic identity and sexual ethics. The legacy of Humanae Vitae continues to shape American Catholicism.

Business Meeting:
Catherine E. Clifford, Saint Paul University
Kristin Colberg, University of Notre Dame
Ecclesiological Investigations Unit
Theme: Ecclesial Courage in Historical Perspectives
Miriam Haar, Lutheran World Federation, Presiding
Saturday - 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Convention Center-Mile High 4D (Lower Level)

As the 2018 AAR Annual-Meeting focuses upon the role of religion in the public sphere, two of this year’s Ecclesiological Investigations Group sessions will explore the virtue of ecclesial courage in the public sphere. In this first, historical session we will look back at the Henri de Lubac's activism and writing about the church and political order during the 1940s as an example of ecclesial courage and Christian anti-fascist resistance; the French Dominican priest Marie-Dominique Chenu (1896-1990) pastoral advocacy of courageous ecclesial engagement with the realities of the modern world engendered conflict with Vatican officials as well as his contribution to an increased ecclesial openness at Vatican II; and Spanish Jesuit theologian Ignacio Ellacuría call for a courageous Christian response to the dehumanizing poverty, which led him to the death squad. These examples are aimed to help us better understand historical treatments of courageous actions and challenges for the churches in their public mission.

Nicholas Krause, Baylor University
Henri de Lubac, Ecclesial Courage, and Christian Resistance to Fascism

In light of the rise of new forms of ethno-nationalist and neo-fascist social movements, this paper turns to Henri de Lubac's activism and writing about the church and political order during the 1940s as an example of ecclesial courage and Christian anti-fascist resistance. It examines de Lubac's heretofore un-studied book Proudhon et le Christianisme, a study of the anarchist and socialist radical Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and locates this engagement within a series of ecclesiological reflections produced during de Lubac's participation in French anti-fascist movements. I argue this neglected strand of de Lubac's thought contains a theological critique of French neo-Scholasticism's complicity in and cooperation with the Vichy fascist regime as a form of ecclesial cowardice, and offers an alternative political ecclesiology centered on courageous witness. De Lubac's ecclesiological reflections, I argue, identify both the susceptibility of the church to fascist impulses, as well as the possibilities of its resistance to them.

Mary Kate Holman, Fordham University
“Don’t Be Afraid!”: Marie-Dominique Chenu and the Courage for an Engaged Church

Drawing on the example of the French Dominican priest Marie-Dominique Chenu (1896-1990), this paper argues that in advocating for a courageous Church facing outward, a parallel courage is required to navigate structures of opposition and power within the Church. As the innovative director of studies at the Saulchoir Dominican House of Studies (1920-1942) and as a friend and mentor to the Worker Priest movement in Paris (1942-1953), Chenu envisioned a courageous, engaged Church at a time when the Catholic hierarchy had assumed a defensive posture towards the modern world. His intellectual and pastoral advocacy for this type of courageous ecclesial engagement with the realities of the modern world engendered conflict with Vatican officials. Chenu’s resilience in the face of these experiences, and his ultimate contributions to an increased ecclesial openness at Vatican II reveal a distinctive type of courage: one that maintains bold Christian convictions despite opposition by Church authority.

Mark DeMott, Fordham University
Taking Charge of the Weight of Reality: The Thought of Ignacio Ellacuría as Impetus and Resource for a Church of the Poor

In 1968, Medellín marked an ecclesial move to embrace the lived reality of the poor. Writing in El Salvador at this time, Spanish Jesuit theologian Ignacio Ellacuría calls for a courageous Christian response to the dehumanizing poverty there, and situates the Universidad Centroamericana José Simeon Cañas (UCA) in a posture of political and social activism. This eventually cost him his life – at the hands of a military death squad. More than a celebration of Ellacuría, this paper will explore the theological and philosophical dimensions of his understanding of historical reality that guided his public action. Additionally, it will propose these categories in Ellacuría’s thought as a both impetus and resource for the contemporary Church in the public sphere. Finally, it will argue that further study of Ellacuría’s philosophy and theology might be truly life-giving for the poor – and might continue to orient Medellín’s vision of a church of the poor.

Ecclesial Practices Unit
Theme: Mediated Faith: Digital Media, Christian Life, and Theology
Jonas Ideström, Church of Sweden, Presiding
Sunday - 9:00 AM-11:30 AM
Convention Center-303 (Street Level)

Digital technologies that are embedded in the fabric of everyday life also influence Christian practice in fundamental ways. The papers in the session use ethnographic methods to analyze how both individuals and communities actively construct their ecclesial and theological identities in relation to digital media.
They explore themes such as pastoral care in social media; how the sacred is constructed visually in digital platforms in a South Korean megachurch; the virtual body of Christ in the digital age that makes embodied difference for those who are ill; ways in which social media fosters links between local parishioners and Anglicans in the global South.
Professor Teresa Berger, the author of @Worship – Liturgical Practices in Digital Worlds (Routledge 2018), is the respondent. Welcome to an interesting conversation on theology, ecclesiology, and digital media.

Kyle Schiefelbein-Guerrero, Graduate Theological Union
Neighbor-Care in the Social Network: Rethinking Pastoral Care for the Digital Age

This paper develops an ethnographic method for analyzing how this new form of pastoral care happens in the social media environment. Since social media platforms, like Facebook and Caringbridge (or the interaction of the two), have created virtual communities of support that transcend the traditional boundaries of pastoral care, this paper redefines care as “neighbor care” to better address the wide scope of providing care. Studying this neighbor care in the digital environment requires altering ethnographic methods to investigate two primary interactions. The first interaction is similar to the traditional pastoral care paradigm, between caregivers (official and unofficial) and those needing care. The numbers of these relationships increases in the digital world because caregiving is “crowdsourced” to participants on the social media sites. The second interaction is to gauge the ritual-like activity of social media participants checking updates on the sick/dying person who is receiving the care.

Hyemin Na, Emory University
Digital Productions of the Sacred: A Korean Megachurch and Its Racialized Visual Culture

Whether still or moving, clicked, liked, uploaded, or forwarded, digital images have become powerful mechanisms for curating cultural imaginaries in the current context of globalized communication networks. The image has become a visual shorthand for a complex tangle of social issues. Meanwhile, there is a long tradition of religious communities negotiating constructions of the sacred through visual means. This paper analyzes how the sacred is constructed visually in digital platforms, and how image and race intersect. I investigate the process by which digital media producers of an influential megachurch in Seoul, South Korea, embed societal norms regarding race in the selection and creation of visual images for their mobile apps and websites. This study will contribute to understanding the role religious organizations play in producing and disseminating societal narratives regarding race.

Deanna A. Thompson, Hamline University
The Virtual Body of Christ and Embrace of the Seriously Ill

Embodying christic love and care to those who suffer is an embodied, materially-based task. Yet even in its earliest incarnations, the body of Christ has always also been a virtual body. This insight sets the stage for theological reflection on the virtual body of Christ in the digital age that makes embodied difference for those who are ill. This paper combines auto-ethnography of a theologian living with cancer, insights from sociologist of illness Arthur Frank, and theological and digital scholarship on virtual worlds, proposing that those who are seriously ill can be cared for by the virtual body of Christ in ways that are at times superior to in-person forms of support. In a world where millions struggle to live with life-threatening illnesses, it’s time to recognize that the virtual world can be a strong-tie environment capable of attending to the suffering and needs of the traumatized.

Christopher C. Brittain, Trinity College, Toronto
Ready. Aim. BLOG! The Impact of Digital Media on Christian Identity in the Diocese(s) of Pittsburgh

Rowan Williams has argued that, “to be a conscious subject involves thinking through what it is to experience check or limit.” This understanding of the self is coming under strain in the wake of the impact of digital media. As Lambert observes, “Facebook offers the opportunity for … a different kind of intimacy. Yet this spatiality is precarious.... Interpersonal intimacy is deferred.” This paper analyses the impact of social media on the identity of Christians by drawing on fieldwork conducted in the greater Pittsburgh region in 2008-2013. The discussion examines ways in which social media exacerbated tensions within the diocese, and how it fostered links between local parishioners and Anglicans in the global South. The paper argues that the filter through which digital media mediates Christians identity is far from being neutral. Most Christian bloggers are male, are leaders in their organization, and are American.

Teresa Berger, Yale University
Business Meeting:
Natalie Wigg-Stevenson, University of Toronto
Ecclesiological Investigations Unit
Theme: Gender and Ecclesiology
Dennis Doyle, University of Dayton, Presiding
Sunday - 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hyatt Regency-Centennial G (Third Level)

This panel addresses the interaction between gender and ecclesiology, with a particular focus upon how different answers to gender questions affect unity and division, within, without, and between the Christian churches. The first paper looks at both the ways that questions regarding women's ordination have complicated, and yet in the long run strengthened, Anglican-Orthodox ecumenical dialogue. The second critiques a prominent German Catholic opponent of the ordination of women to the diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church, arguing that mistaken positions on ordination and gender that arise from an overreaction to German Protestant differences with Catholic dialogue partners. The third looks at how differing conceptions of gender, so-called "gender ideology," and masculinities complicated the recent peace settlements in Colombia, and continue to point the way to further "difficult dialogues."

Kirsten L Guidero, Marquette University
Developing a Shared Ecumenical Method: Women's Ordination in the Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue

The Anglican-Orthodox dialogue remains marked by disputes over gender, particularly women’s ordination. This paper uncovers how women’s ecclesial roles figure in the dialogue from 1976 through 2015. In earlier decades, the dialogue focuses on women’s ordination as a contested point of ecclesial identity while overlooking the extensive roots of the topic in both churches’ underlying theological premises. The women’s ordination discussion thus demonstrates how different ways of relating ecclesial integrity with theological development produce ecumenical tension. However, my analysis also reveals the Anglican-Orthodox dialogue’s promise. By more thoroughly excavating the foundational theologies shaping thought on gender and by engaging practices of internal and bilateral reception, the dialogue’s three most recent statements fashion a more mature approach. The paper concludes by arguing that in order to fruitfully address specific troubles over gender as well as to achieve greater consensus on other matters, Anglicans and Orthodox should continue adopting these approaches.

Jakob Rinderknecht, University of the Incarnate Word
Imaging the "Voraus" of Christ: Gender, Deacons, and the Church

Karl-Heinz Menke, emeritus professor of the University of Bonn and 2017 recipient of the Ratzinger Prize, has been an recurring voice arguing that women cannot be ordained to the diaconate. He also serves as a member of the papal commission studying the question. Over the course of the last decade, Menke has built a two-pronged argument against the possibility of such ordinations. First, he argues that the Sacrament of Order's unity requires that anyone who is ordained at all must be able to be ordained to the episcopate. Second, he argues that women cannot image the Voraus of Christ vis-à-vis the church, that is, Christ's leadership. This paper argues that Menke's understanding of the sacrament and who properly receives it rests on faulty assumptions both about the sacrament and about the gendered constitution of humanity. These positions should not be allowed to affect the church's deliberations on the topic.

Janna Hunter-Bowman, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
Gender as Trump: Unity at the Price of Peace

Gender questions opened chiasmic division and now provide opportunity for difficult dialogues in Colombia, South America. This presentation analyzes Colombia’s explosive church and political conflict over gender in the context of a national peace agreement with the government and leftist guerrilla group FARC. It critically and constructively deploys three approaches found in women, gender, and peacebuilding literature: “difference,” “diversity,” and “deconstructive.” The lens and emergent insights provide resources for examining gender-inflected conflict dynamics between church(es) and within denominations elsewhere. Furthermore, interviews with former soldiers suggest that the most polemical approach to gender within churches is precisely what best resources transformation of violence-generating and violence-sustaining masculinities. In response, this paper explores the practice of “difficult dialogues” as “deliberative inquiry” that embrace conflict as an opportunity for constructive engagement. The presentation brings original research in Colombia into conversation with gender studies, theology, religious studies, radical democracy, and peacebuilding literatures.

Vatican II Studies Unit
Theme: Latin American Catholicism in the Wake of the Second Vatican Council
Peter De Mey, University of Leuven, Presiding
Monday - 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Hyatt Regency-Centennial E (Third Level)

This session will explore the unique ways that the orientations of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council were received into theology and practice, and took flesh in post-Vatican II Catholicism in the lives of the peoples and in the contribution of thinkers and leaders in the church and society in the region of America. This includes the migration of European theologies into the social and political contexts of the Americas; the reception of particular council documents or themes; the intersection between theological reception and social-political expectations of the early post-Vatican II period.

Rodrigo Polanco, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
The Formative Role of Theological Education in the Development of Medellin (1968)

This paper presents the ecclesiology developing in the courses of some Latin American universities’ in the years running up to the Second General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate at Medellin (1968). The reason for its consideration is to expand the current thought (and in some sense act as a counterpoint) that considers Medellin as a point of departure for a new ‘face’ of the Latin American church. It certainly informs a better understanding of the subsequent development of theology of the Latin American Church led by the bishops gathered in Medellin (along with the theologians who accompanied them), but this is achieved through the study of some of its antecedent trends. The paper provides an interim review of a current study that is focused on the content and curriculum of faculties of theology and centers of studies of the continent between 1955-1968.

Rodrigo Coppe Caldeira, Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais
A Hermeneutics of the Receivers: The Vatican II Reception in Brazilian Theological Journals (1959-1979) and the Formation of the Conciliar Cultures

The aim of this paper is to study two Brazilian theological journals – Revista Eclesiástica Brasileira and Atualização Teológica – in the period between the convocation of the Second Vatican Council by John XXIII in 1959 and 1978, when Paul VI died. The objective is to discover the main theological themes dealt in these journals, which relate to those present in the council debates, in order to understand how their reception in the Brazilian Catholic theological cenario occurs; how they interpreted the council and its main challenges from their reflections published in the specialized journals. The production of theological knowledge is part of a political-religious context that associates certain practices with social places of production. In this way, the theological journals are important loci of reflection and construction of the conciliar cultures, that are crossed by sociability networks, representations and imaginaries.

Sandra Arenas, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
McGrath-Larrain’s Conciliar Agenda and the Latin American Ecclesiological Arena since the Fifties

Throughout unexplored archival material, this presentation will focus itself in the role of two active Latin American Council Fathers, who were crucial in shaping a social-ecclesiological paradigm since the decade before the Council up until CELAM 1968, and even beyond it. We are referring to Marcos Gregorio McGrath and, Manuel Larrain Errazuriz. Recent research made in four unpublished Chilean archives (Fonds: Manuel Larrain; Raúl Silva Henriquez; Jorge Medina and, Faculty of Theology of the PUC), have shown their clear ‘conciliar agenda’ before the Council had begun, the letters and some other personal writings make clear the influence of their theology of history and of the church both, at the Council itself as well as at the Latin American magisterium of the 60’ and 70’.

Ecclesiological Investigations Unit and African Association for the Study of Religion
Theme: Ecclesial Experiences in African Contexts
Aaron Hollander, Loyola University Chicago, Presiding
Monday - 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hyatt Regency-Capitol 5 (Fourth Level)

The three papers of this session present ecclesial experiences in three distinct African contexts that have made or ought to make substantial contributions to the wider life of the Christian churches and to their understandings of the church. The first paper starts from twentieth-century liturgical reforms in the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, and analyzes the way in which local, national, and diasporic identity changed in relation to the transition between orality and textuality in these reforms. The second paper begins from the historic experience of the Christian descendants of slaves from the Kongo kingdom, and from that history makes a constructive theological argument for the importance of the "slave template" in undermining ecclesiologies of power and strength. The third paper, drawing on the work of Ghanaian Presbyterian Kwame Bediako and of Cameroonian Catholic Jean-Marc Éla, highlights the incorporation of ancestors in African theology and ecclesiology as a gift to be received by the wider communion of churches.

Andrew Salzmann, Benedictine College
Agency and Identity in Ethiopian Liturgical Reform

The Tridentine reforms in the Roman Catholic Church brought about a “book Catholicism” in which local identity and agency gave way to a more standardized identity and centralized ecclesial agency. Similarly, the (more modest) 20th-century liturgical reforms and standardizations in the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church occasions similar questions about agency and identity. The shift from orality to textuality distances the subject from the text, even as it enables the text to travel further; printing and bookculture accelerates these trends, allowing liturgy to be more readily reformed by central authority. I look at the role which the re-introduction of chrism into widespread use, and the standardization of the lectionary, played in the construction of patriarchal agency and national identity (at the cost of local agency and identity); additionally, I consider the modest reforms of Temqet as suggestive of the relation between particularity and international communion in the construction of Ethiopian identity.

Elochukwu Eugene Uzukwu, Duquesne University
Liberation and the Slave-Template: Catholic Church, Religions and Cultures, and the Transformation of Society

Over 100 years after the departure of Capuchin missionaries from the Sonyo (Kongo) kingdom, descendants of their slaves, “slaves of the Church”, were recognized as “people of the church”. Spiritan missionary (Charles Duparquet, 1876) reported the descendants, almost 3000 persons, lived and practiced the Catholic religion in a town close to the old Sonyo capital, Sainte Antoine. They constituted a “little flock” totally independent of their neighbors.
This paper argues that these historical (Kongo) events open a reflection on how the slave template can become the central epistemological tool for understanding genuine indigenized Catholic religion, dialogue of cultures and religions in the Kongo, Africa and the world.
Paul adopted the “slave” template as hermeneutical tool to interpret the foundations of the Christian faith, “Christ Jesus…taking the form of a slave” (Phil. 2), the framework for liberation and dialogue. It challenges contemporary Christianity to reinvent church, religion and our fractured world.

Ross Kane, Virginia Theological Seminary
Enlarging the Cloud of Witnesses: Ancestors and the Church in Kwame Bediako and Jean-Marc Éla

The incorporation of ancestors has been one of most significant developments in Christian theology of recent decades, a contribution generated especially from African intellectuals. By engaging Ghanaian Presbyterian Kwame Bediako and Cameroonian Catholic Jean-Marc Éla, this paper argues that ancestor reverencing has substantially clarified and enhanced Christian doctrines like salvation and the communion of saints. For both theologians, incorporating ancestors enhances Christian understandings of Jesus’ role across human history, long before peoples called themselves Christians. Indeed, for these theologians, revering ancestors should not be limited to Christianity in Africa, but taken into the Christian tradition of any place.