How do we build communities of peace and justice in Asia? What pedagogies of encounter with the other will help build communities? These are some of the questions behind the theme, Building Communities: Asians in Search of New Pedagogies of Encounter, which will be the focus of the Fourth Congress of Asian Theologians (CATS IV).
Plans are underway for CATS IV set on 4-10 August 2003 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. No less than 80 Asian theologians and some guests are expected to gather.
Unique to this fourth gathering is the one-day Womens Forum on August 4 for all the women participants of CATS IV. This is a special time for women to be together, share concerns as women theologians in a predominantly male-dominated field and gathering. The Womens Forum is expected to make a collective statement at the CATS gathering.
Like in the previous CATS gatherings, keynote address and theme presentations will be made by Asian theologians.
Dr. Wong Wai Ching, professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong and current co-moderator of CATS, will give the keynote address. Responding to her will be Dr. P Mohan Larbeer, a Dalit theologian and current principal of Tamilnadu Theological Seminary in India.
Theme presentors will be Dr. Clive Pearson, professor at United Theological College in Australia who will make a religious and cultural proposal on the theme; and Dr. Ninan Koshy, former director of International Affairs, World Council of Churches, who will make a socio-political and economic proposal on the theme.
Responding to Pearson will be Sr. Dr. Mary John Mananzan, president of St. Scholasticas College in the Philippines, and to Koshy will be Dr. Gabriele Dietrich, professor of social analysis in Tamilnadu Theological Seminary in India.
There will also be time for participants to meet in discipline groups according to the following: Religious Education, Missiology, Biblical Hermeneutics, Ecumenism, Theological Methods, Ethics and Social Analysis, and Spirituality and Liturgy. Later there will also be time for issue groups to deal with issues that may arise from the presentations and discussions.
CATS is an independent body but presently assisted and facilitated by the Christian Conference of Asia. Participation in CATS is through membership. However, limited space is also given to overseas guests.
CATS is run by a Continuation Committee composed of elected individuals and representatives of the following organizations: CCA, PTCA (Programme for Theologies and Cultures in Asia), ATESEA (Association of Theological Education in South East Asia), and SATHRI (South Asia Theological Research Institute).
Hosting CATS this year is the Payap University in Chiang Mai led by Dr. Pradit Takerngrangsit, vice-president of Payap University.