The 13th Biennial Consultation on Urban Ministry
Do We See Her? Resist, Reclaim, Sustain
Wednesday, 19 August – Saturday, 22 August 2020
City of Tshwane / Pretoria, South Africa
INTRODUCTION & THEME
The newly formed IUM Leadership Team, in discernment with our ministry partners, has been challenged by the Spirit of the Lord to direct our gaze towards people in our cities who are unseen, dehumanized, and trampled upon. The 13th Biennial Consultation on Urban Ministry will explore the theme: Do We See Her? Resist, Reclaim, Sustain!
Do We See Her?
The urgent question ‘Do We See Her?’ draws from the story of Jesus’ interaction with the woman in Luke 7:36-50, who anoints his feet with perfume from an alabaster jar.
The question refers, first and foremost, to the feminine body in the city. It draws attention to the invisibility and dehumanisation of women and girls in the city — some are battered; others suffer multiple layers of oppression as Black persons, Black women, and Black workers. The violence perpetrated against them has become unbearable. However, in a metaphorical sense the question draws attention to all those in the city who suffer fractures and dislocations, who are vulnerable. In Biblical terms these are the widow, the orphan, the stranger, the poor, the sinner, the sick, the disabled, and many other categories of oppressed people.
In Scripture God emerges as the One who sees, the one who sends God’s Son on a seeing mission. In his manifesto, Jesus himself speaks of bringing good news to the poor, restoring sight to the blind, and liberating captives as a sign of the reign of God and of the advent of the jubilee (Luke 4:18-19). And in Luke 7:44, Jesus, who has seen the heart of the woman with the alabaster flask, challenges his host, the Pharisee Simon: ‘Do you see this woman?’
God still sees today, and God still acts today. The Creator of heaven and heart is in the business of setting captives free — not only those oppressed in the city, but all of us who have become numb, greedy, and hostile ourselves. God liberates us from our unseeing eyes by exercising an unflinching option for the needy, the poor, the widow, the orphan and the stranger! Do we see her, the Holy Spirit, dancing in the city? Do we see her awakening us to our shared humanity? Do we see her drawing us into flourishing relationship with God, people, and the earth? Do we see her?
Do We See Her? seeks to:
To see rightly requires us to develop a spirituality and practices that will help us to resist, reclaim, and sustain ourselves and our cities. We are challenged:
- To resist courageously the powers of evil and of death that create a system of misery in our cities;
- To reclaim our cities and our agency by occupying space — geographic space and land as well as space in our own hearts and minds in need of transformation; and
- To sustain our work and our selves for the long term, not only owning, but creating, our own cities, holding in creative tension the ongoing struggle for justice with the care for our ecosystems to sustain life and nurture shalom.
In this, we are not alone! If we look carefully and listen attentively, we shall see millions of women on the march already. We shall hear them chanting ‘Wathint‘ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo’: ‘You strike a woman, you strike a rock’! Let us join the march!
The 13th Biennial Consultation on Urban Ministry welcomes urban practitioners, pastors, faith-rooted activists, academics, students, and inhabitants for reflection, information sharing, fellowship and reinvigoration. We plan to gather 500 people from 5 continents, transcending geographical, socio-economic, political, denominational, generational, gender, racial, ethnic and language lines.
The Consultation will take place within the 10 Days of Justice and flow with the Feast@UP (University of Pretoria) and the Feast of the Clowns, an inner city community festival celebrating arts and justice, God in the city and the city’s diversity. As a festival of justice and reconciliation, it seeks to heal, dream, and confront, all at the same time. Organise! will culminate on Saturday, 22 August, with the March of the Clowns.
The Consultation is designed to equip the hearts, heads and hands of communities, individuals and institutions. Through the use of the praxis cycle, we seek to explore together: How are we immersed in the city? How do
Elements of the Consultation will include:
- Use of the praxis cycle to explore our theme, including opportunities for immersion, urban analysis, prophetic imagination, action planning, and engagement in the city;
- Awareness-raising of critical issues facing our cities today;
- Pathways for sharing resources, learnings, and connections with other urban partners, including fostering opportunities for communities of practice;
- Collective laments, and creative expressions;
- Devotional reflections, keynote speakers, and panel discussions;
- Collaborative research opportunities and participatory knowledge gathering; and
- The March of the Clowns! We are called to bring laughter in a sad world, but also to cry about and resist that which makes the world sad!
Together, we will revisit our personal, communal and institutional roles in building concrete signs of justice and reconciliation in particular places.
Please check back in early-mid 2020 for the Consultation programme!