(LWI) – In a new publication, nine theology scholarship holders through The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) scholarship program share personal stories of their educational journey, and how their experiences have become a transformative journey for their lives and faith.
Journeys from the Crossroads: Stories on living, studying, and doing theology provides a unique student-centered perspective that is meant to enrich LWF’s global discussions on theological education and formation and complement more academically oriented study and research.
The student authors come from LWF member churches in Chile, Ethiopia, India, Malaysia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. They discuss their experiences regarding hierarchies and authorities, awareness of their respective contexts, engagement with teachers and fellow students, embodying values, and empowerment through struggle.
The idea to compile the students’ experiences into a publication emerged from the series of “Coming Together” online meetings, ongoing since 2021, said Rev. Katariina Kiilunen, LWF Program Executive for Capacity Building and Leadership Development. “Scholarship holders felt the need for students themselves to be involved in LWF’s discussion on theological education. By reflecting on their lived experiences, they wanted to offer insights from their journey on how studying theology has changed their thoughts, lives and faith.”
Co-editor of Journeys from the Crossroads, Kiilunen emphasized LWF’s commitment to theological education that “transforms not only individuals but also churches and the world in which we live.” The writing process was an opportunity to identify common factors that significantly influence how formation is experienced, she said. “I hope that the findings will challenge theological educators to explore how such aspects can be further considered and applied to theological education in the Lutheran communion,” she added.
In one of the essays, Rev. Witness Issa Maratu, a PhD student at Tumaini University Makumira in Arusha, Tanzania, shares the impact of her study journey. “Before pursuing theology, I too subscribed to [the] unequal view of gender roles, but an understanding of imago Dei has transformed my thinking against any oppressive rhetoric in society and church. My faith has grown to understand that both men and women have equal value in the eyes of the Creator.”
The publication’s co-editor Hans-Christoph Thapelo Lange talks about the central questions considered by each author and the connection to LWF study processes. The students, he notes, “add another layer of reflections” to discussions on understanding the church’s ministry, the connection between justification and justice, worship and culture, and the church’s role in the public space, among other subjects.
With theological education often referred to as the backbone of the church, “paying attention to the ways in which people change during their studies is crucial to the church’s ability to move,” concludes Lange, a master’s student at the Stellenbosch University in South Africa.
Journeys from the Crossroads was edited by Rev. Katariina Kiilunen, and Mr Hans-Christoph Thapelo Lange, and it is available online and in hard copy. For more information, please write to [email protected]