Healing and reconciling ministries in a violent world
Healing ministry in general
What is a basic Christian understanding of the healing ministry? Often, it was assumed that doctors and hospitals would take care of the body, psychiatrists and psychologists of the mind, pastors or priests of the soul (through pastoral care and the celebration of sacraments). Lay people were called to visit the sick. Now, work in many churches has considerably widened the expectations and definitions of the healing ministry, and moved to interdisciplinary approaches. This needs to be shared.
What does it mean for a church to be a healing community? It should offer a safe space for those in emotional, spiritual and/or material need. It can be a place where people may share their stories without being judged, a place of worship, forgiveness and solidarity. Such a church could also become a place where processes of inter-personal reconciliation are initiated or accompanied. Such a church is expected to exert a peace-making influence on the wider community.
Continued or renewed dialogue is necessary between Christians of various traditions on the way they respond to their healing vocation in contextually relevant ways.
Dialogue is needed between Pentecostal/charismatic, and liturgica/sacramental approaches.
Dialogue is needed between medical/scientific and theological/spiritual approaches.
Intercultural dialogue is needed on our understanding of what it means to be sick, cured, healed, and how that relates to our faith and life in community.
Mission in times of HIV/AIDS
The HIV/AIDS pandemic is one of the major challenges to mission today, because it reveals the fundamental attitude of church communities to sick people, persons who are affected directly or indirectly by the pandemic, people searching for refuge, for a safe space, for protection. Some churches have courageously become healing places; others have been shown to be part of the problem rather than offering hope. HIV/AIDS reveals underlying assumptions on responsibility, sin, punishment. The pandemic also shows how all aspects of human life are interrelated, from personal ethics to cultural values, but also to government policy, international business practices and economics. Aspects to be considered include:
healing community and people suffering from HIV/AIDS;
HIV/AIDS and the role of ministers and curricula in theological education;
the influence of cultural traditions (in particular in relation to gender!) on the spread of HIV/AIDS;
HIV/AIDS, mission and God's justice;
advocacy with and on behalf of people suffering from the pandemic;
HIV/AIDS and the international economic system.
The conference will provide an opportunity for networks linked to ecumenical initiatives on HIV/AIDS to meet. There will be a specific emphasis on the churches' healing mission in Africa (Ecumenical HIV/AIDS Initiative in Africa). The questions listed above are just examples of issues that might be addressed.
A reconciling ministry in a violent world
This is the part of the conference most directly related to the Decade to Overcome Violence(DOV). Particular emphasis needs to be put on:
understanding what happens and is needed in social and political reconciliation processes, which may require approaches other than inter-personal reconciliation;
reflecting on the churches' role in conflict situations (including recent ethnic conflicts), addressing questions such as repentance, forgiveness, restitution, and healing of memories;
discerning the particular challenges to Christian mission in terms of reconciliation and healing of memories;
studying the relations between mission theologies/methods and an increase or decrease of violence in conflicts.