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The Global Christianity Programme at Queen’s is still a relatively new venture, begun in 2012, building on the long engagement with Mission Studies and World Church Partnerships based in Birmingham, chiefly through the Selly Oak Colleges. This is an exciting opportunity for pastors and leaders from around the world to study together as part of a diverse community that includes those preparing for ministry within the British Churches. Transformative encounters and creative learning are at the centre of what we do together, as people are shaped and re-shaped for mission and ministry in a Global Church.
We are deeply aware that our model of theological education and ministerial formation is set within the context of Europe. In this, we inherit the legacy of cultural assumptions and, often, colonial practices that characterised the work of previous generations. As a Christian community, we must listen to our critics whilst, at the same time, taking our own context seriously and find practices and methodologies that work within our own particular context. But we must do this in the spirit of humility, repentance and reconciliation as we understand the damage that our previous thinking and actions did to the rest of the world. Part of our vision, therefore, must be to learn from past mistakes and engage in serious listening and dialogue with our fellow Christians from around the world, and with closer neighbours of all faiths and none.
The challenge and joy of cross-cultural learning is, not only learning about how others are different from us, but a deep process of self-reflection and awareness. Part of the process of cross-cultural ministerial formation is to develop the process of self-reflection and critical awareness within the new leaders of our churches.
We have been aided in our cross-cultural learning opportunities by funding programmes such as the SALT (Scholarship & Leadership Training) Programme which is a long established Methodist Church scholarship scheme, facilitated by World Church Relationships (WCR). This offers cross-cultural postgraduate funding to men and women who have been nominated by the heads of its partner Churches overseas and who will become future leaders within their home communities.
Other opportunities available to our students include the Global Leadership Development (GoLD) Programmes which equip ministers and lay leaders by providing a framework for continuing reflection on ministerial practice. Our Mutual Exchange & Encounter for Transformation (MEET) Programme provides opportunities for students to experience Church in a context other than their own and to encounter Christians as they live out their ministry and discipleship in another part of the world. In addition our Sabbatical and Scholars Programmes enrich the Queen’s community with visitors and guests from across the globe.
So how do we respond to the Missio Dei in the world today? We attempt to embody a process of formation that is:
Developing new contextual practice and reflection using dialogue as a primary model for theological reflection.
Recognising our need of others to help us reflect on our own context, learning to be guest as well as host.
Engaging in a praxis-based model for social justice and campaigning.
Embracing the new and wider ecumenisms of engagement with Christians and people of all faiths and none.
In short, we are trying to teach our students to be good conversation partners – attentive listeners in pastoral ministry, theological reflection, social engagement, interfaith dialogue, and global witness.