Theology in times of transition

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What to expect from the conference

Pat Keifert, Dirkie Smit, Nico Koopman, Russel Botman and others have been approached to deliver keynote speeches – on what we have learnt from Coenie, where we differ from him and how we should furnish future discussions. As an ongoing conversation, the conference will be structured with optimal “open” spaces for general participation in the ongoing discourse.

This is why the conference celebrting his contribution will run like a continuous, inclusive discussion. The Internationl Research Consortium – of which Coenie was a founding member – meets in Stellenbosch in January 2012, with consortium members also attending the conference. These include Pat Keifert, Pat Taylor-Ellison and Stanley Green from the USA, Michael Herbst and Martin Reppenburgh from Germany, Henk de Roest and others from Holland – all of whom have been Coenie’s international partners over more than a decade.

Your contribution to the conference

We have devised the following overview to stimulate your ideas on a possible contribution to the conference. Coenie’s outputs cannot be encapsulated under a single theme or area. From starting as a rural minister he became the minister for students at Stellenbosch, and went on to occupy various offices in leadership positions in the church, including that of moderator of the Western Cape and the General Synod. He was also the director of Bucter, presently Ekklesia. He was an active force in the ecumenics of post-apartheid South Africa, pursued research, wrote, and perhaps more than any of his contemporaries, stimulated critical thought. The one typical feature is that his contribution belongs in a time during which our country was engaged in profound transformation. His work started in the late seventies, continued through the tempestuous eighties, the transformation processes of the nineties to reach the era of post-apartheid South Africa with the inauguration of the new democratic dispensation. Coenie’s theological reflection always occurred within the context of times of transition.

The list of topics on which Coenie has reflected is almost endless. He did his initial research on pastoral theology and his doctoral work in Homiletics. As a practical theologian he always had a keen interest in Systematic and Biblical Theology. Many South African pastors value him most for his extensive work in “Woord teen die Lig” (a series of preaching guides) and later, the Lectionary. In the middle of his career he started publishing in the field of congregational studies – always leaning toward a theological interpretation of congregations, even when sociological analyses were holding sway. Additionally he contributed in the fields of church planting, leadership, theological education, poverty, definitions of office, adult education, etc., always hovering on the cutting edge between church and academic reflection.

While Coenie’s interest in issues of transformation and renewal is legendary, he also did much research on re-interpreting the reformed tradition. As the confirmed church leader his unquenched passion for church unity has rendered him one of the most influential ecumenical leaders in South Africa. He is currently director of Ekklesia, an ecumenical centre for leadership development and research at Stellenbosch University.

Items from this list of themes and contexts might strike you as topics which you would like to pursue in further discussion with Coenie and friends. Kindly submit your topic together with your subscription, and prepare an introduction of 5 to 10 minutes to initiate a discussion.

Themes already submitted to us, include the following:

  • •An inclusive Missional reading of the Bible
  • •Church planting as a challenge within mainstream churches
  • •The Legacy of David Bosch
  • •Creating a culture of discernment in a congregation
  • •Leadership
  • •Ethnographic research
  • Theological Education and Ministerial Formation

We hope you will be able to attend the conference and invite you to submit topics on which you would like to contribute to the conference.

Kind regards

Frederick Marais

Manager – Communitas

13 December 2011

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