Sunday, February 18, 2007

Introducing Theologians Without Borders

Big Buts
Have you ever thought, “We’d love to have Dr ________ come to our seminary to lecture for an intensive or a semester, but we don’t have the money?”

Have you ever said, “It would be great if Dr __________ might come to our country to speak at our annual School of Theology or Pastors’ Conference, but the cost of airfares, accommodation and the honorarium puts this right out of the realms of possibility?”

Have you ever thought, “I’d like to offer my teaching services for a stint in another country, but, I don’t know where to begin?”

Kicking Buts
Theologians Without Borders (TWB) has been established to kick these buts and make productive partnerships possible.

Seeing the Vision
Some seminaries have an informal partnership with another seminary in the world where there is a friendship, a flow of faculty and assistance with the training of students (especially at the post-graduate level). However, there are scores of other seminaries and schools surviving on basic resources.

What a boost it might be for such seminaries to have a lecturer in Bible, theology, pastoral care or _________ [fill in the gap] come to teach an intensive or even stay for a semester; someone who comes as a volunteer, not seeking a salary because they are supported by their own seminary, denomination or Overseas Missions Department, themselves. Perhaps the receiving seminary or convention might cover the cost of accommodation and food while the visiting teacher is with them.

What a contribution a theologian might make who offers to come free of charge as a visiting lecturer at a School of Ministry or Pastors’ Conference! What an experience it could be for the theologian who visits, to learn from those they meet in another country. Their ministry would be enhanced and the sending seminary and convention would be enriched as they hear the stories about the training of leaders in another part of the world.

There may also be the meeting of other needs by the sending of librarians, accountants, academic consultants etc.

Becoming a Reality
The dream of TWB was shared by Geoff Pound and blessed at the Mexico meetings of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) in July 2006.

Since then:
* Structures have been developed
* A Coordinating Committee has been appointed by the chairs of the BWA Academic & Theological Work Group
* The news is being spread.

Goals of TWB
Such partnerships have existed for centuries but TWB aims to:
* Provide a prod and give impetus to what many have done or continue to do
* Receive expressions of interest from people, and their profile describing what that can offer
* Publicize the needs and opportunities
* Attempt some theological matchmaking
* Offer practical advice
* Share the stories from those engaging in partnerships
* Respond to requests for a representative to meet with your group to share the vision and brainstorm some possibilities.

Being Practical
* TWB aims to avoid paternalism and foster partnerships of mutual encouragement.
* Our vision is not to be exclusively Baptist but to be practical and realistic, focusing on developing international partnerships among those under the umbrella of the Baptist World Alliance.
* We do not wish to create unrealistic expectations so in this commencement phase we will highlight and seek to address opportunities in the Asian region.
* For reasons of confidentiality we will discourage the naming of specific details in public newsletters and web sites.

RSVP
* Send us your responses, questions and suggestions.
* Offer to share a story to inspire or warn of how a partnership or international engagement has worked or not worked.
* Send us your expression of interest and we will send out a pro forma for you to furnish us with details of an opportunity or your willingness to serve. This does not commit you but is a way of saying, “Keep me posted.”
* Email this information to other members of your faculty, to pastors serving in churches and the ‘retired’ who so often possess the wisdom and flexibility to do such a great job in these opportunities.
* If you are a denominational leader please include this information in your mail out to pastors.
* Please send this information to the editor of your denominational newspaper as a Press Release.

Reference Point
For any communication please contact:
Dr Geoff Pound
Chair of Coordinating Committee
Theologians Without Borders geoffpound@yahoo.com.au