2 August 2016
On behalf of the Indian Women Theologians Forum. I would like to present to you in sum, our deliberations from our meetings held in 2015 and 2016 which present our Vision of a new way of being Church.
The Indian Women theologians have reflected on a New Way of Being Church within our Indian and Asian Context of poverty, caste, discrimination, inter-religious reality, and injustice. We realize that to initiate this way of being Church we need new structures “New wine that requires new wineskins”
As Indian feminist theologians we therefore envisage the Church as…
- a ‘discipleship of equals’, non-hierarchical and participatory, with women being co-responsible in decision making and the services in the church;
- a community that is open to all irrespective of class, caste, creed, gender or sexual orientation;
- a body incarnated in the lives of the poor and the marginalized;
- a people in dialogue with religious and cultural pluralism, “revered” tradition, and the ‘signs of the times’;
- a member of the wider human family, networking with people of good will for the common good, and intervening prophetically to address violence and injustice;
- an ecological blessing committed to protecting and sustaining creation; and
- a sign of peace and harmony promoting the communion of all faiths.
These new ways of being Church entail rediscovering and translating to our present times the egalitarian vision of the Jesus movement that says NO to all forces of domination, and promotes inclusive, liberative and welcoming spaces for all.
This vision of Jesus for the Church as an inclusive community of discipleship of equals, which will be instrumental for initiating the Reign of God will involve:
· Uprooting the hierarchical and patriarchal mindset from ourselves and our communities
· Creating an awareness of Christian discipleship according to the vision of Christ
· Choosing leaders for Christian communities according the criteria deployed by the early Church, like selecting persons filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3)
· Celebrating ‘inclusive table fellowship' in the family which is the domestic church as well as in Small Christian Communities which are the “house churches” of today, where sharing experiences of joys and sorrows can help create bonds of support and solidarity, thereby building family and community
· Recognizing the varied ministerial services exercised by all the people of God like Coordinators of Small Christian Communities, Ministers of the Eucharist, Ministers of the Word, Ministers of healing/teaching/social outreach/ justice and the like, as equally valued and effective ways of realizing the vision of Jesus
Through this, we dream of birthing a new vision of being the Church with structures which are collaborative, participatory and inclusive without distinctions of class, caste and gender. This will help the Christian community to become the ‘new wineskin’ that can hold the ‘new wine’ of the Reign of God.