Summer Academy on Diakonia in Nanjing

Group photo at Nanjing Union Theological Seminary the training venue of the Summer Academy

From 26 October to 7 September 2018, the Amity Foundation and the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary organized the Summer Academy on Diakonia 2018. About 45 participants, mainly young pastors who are committed and dedicated to Diakonia ministry, attended the training. They were selected by Amity Foundation in consultation with provincial and regional Christian Councils. Half of the attendees were women.

The Summer Academy in Diakonia program supports churches in China to raise their awareness of Diakonia ministry, step into the community and become the bridge between Church, government and society. At the same time, it will contribute to the preparation of better trained personnel for Diakonia ministry with enough practical knowledge and experience to promote Diakonia in the context of China.

Amity's Chairman Mr. Qiu (middle) and Chen Yilu, Deputy Director of the national seminary (left of Mr. Qiu) welcome the participants during the opening ceremony.

In an opening lecture, Chairman of the Amity Foundation, Mr. Qiu Zhonghui talked about the role of faith based organizations in providing social services. As present developments and challenges, Mr Qiu pointed out the contradiction between having a good life and imbalanced development, the role of the government and social organizations, and legal aspects of social development. Furthermore, he emphasized the importance of ecological sustainability. Many companies have already included the ecological aspect into their Corporate Social Responsibility plan (CSR to CSER).

Professor Kjell Nordstokke, an WCC expert from Norway, gave presentations over three days

Overseas experts of Diakonia gave presentations about different aspects of Diakonia. Professor Kjell Nordstokke, proven expert, as well the author of a current working paper on Diconia by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation and ACT Alliance, gave presentations during the first week. Rev. Kjell informed participants about ongoing international discussions and a present shift of paradigm of Diakonia. After teaching about the European and ecumenical history and context of Diakonia, Kjell emphasized the importance to contextualize and localize diaconal work in China.

Dr. Manoj Kurian of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance of the WCC gives apresentation about food and nutrition

Dr. Manoj Kurian of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance of the WCC gave the presentation 'Food For Life', advocating for more sustainable and ecological friendly food consumption. Both lecturers gave examples how to integrate those concepts into theological thinking.

Besides visiting the Amity Printing Company, participants also took part in exposure tours and visited Protestant and Buddhist social organizations in Yangzhou and Zhenjiang province. Reverent Liao Shaoqin of the Luzhou Church and Master Ren Guan from the Buddhist Weng Fen Foundation gave presentations about Chinese contexts of religious social engagement.

A church-runned grassroots elderly home (left). Mr Kjell receives presents by the participating pastors (right).

During the second week, the training focused on practical aspects of Diakonia e.g. management and fundraising. Trainers were Amity staff and other Chinese experts. The presentations were followed by Q&A sessions, group discussions and exchanges among the participants who came from various provinces of China.