Weaving Threads Together…creating a tapestry of Lutheran schooling. What a wonderful and relevant theme to have for a national conference! Five ‘threads’ were woven together at the recent ACLE conference including spiritual, social, communication, teaching and learning and global. These threads were explored through a range of forums including keynote addresses, elective sessions and workshops. […]
Weaving Threads Together…creating a tapestry of Lutheran schooling. What a wonderful and relevant theme to have for a national conference! Five ‘threads’ were woven together at the recent ACLE conference including spiritual, social, communication, teaching and learning and global. These threads were explored through a range of forums including keynote addresses, elective sessions and workshops.
For this article I would like to examine the global thread. For many of us in schools our focus tends to be within our local community, and events such as National Lutheran Schools Week are one of the few opportunities our students have to collectively interact and be exposed to the wider Australian context. I realise this comment is somewhat of a generalisation, as many of our schools have connections with schools and communities overseas, however, it was the opportunity to hear from scholars such as Rev Dr Mitri Raheb at the conference which really gave some insight to the global threads that already exist. Dr Raheb is an Arab, a Palestinian, a Christian and a Lutheran pastor who was born and raised in Bethlehem. His background is an eclectic combination of potential opposites, and he spoke of his experiences of ministering in a predominately Muslim society.
Part of his presentation focused on the unifying thread that connects Christians across the globe, and the following is an excerpt of his commentary on the global thread:
The global thread is as old as the Old Testament; it is part of God’s vision for this world. Jerusalem at Pentecost is the most beautiful and colourful tapestry. There were people of different languages and different cultures and yet there was harmony. The gospel has to be heard in our own language in order to be powerful. We have to hear the gospel in the same language we dream in and in the same rhythm our bodies dance with. It is the gospel that unites people of different cultures.
Recently a number of our schools across Australia have established connections with sister schools in Papua New Guinea, and this has provided an opportunity for our students to engage with culturally diverse communities that are united by the global thread of the gospel. Having visited PNG earlier this year, I was amazed by the percentage of Christians in the population (96% according to the 2000 census), and the number of Lutherans (estimated in excess of one million). Given there are historical connections to PNG with both Australia and the Lutheran Church, this broadening of our students’ perspectives enables them to see the Living Word alive and well in countries other than Australia. It is important to note that there are many other connections our schools have and are making around the globe with Lutheran communities including Africa, South East Asia and Indonesia.
Dr Raheb’s other key message was that of tolerance. In an increasingly technologically connected world, we have a responsibility to open the eyes of our students to the deeper meaning of connectedness. Dr Raheb was keen to point out that the notion of a global village does not translate to everyone having the same understanding and cultural mores, and that there is value in celebrating the rich diversity that exists in our world. The challenge for Lutheran educators is how we engender an understanding of cultural pluralism in our students, coupled with a deeper understanding of being part of a global family while maintaining and respecting the beliefs of all peoples. What should our attitudes as Christians be to other world religions? These are important questions, and we are well placed to answer based on Dr Raheb’s assertion that the gospel unites all peoples of different cultures. We can look forward with enthusiasm and a sense of anticipation as we continue to grow and embrace the global thread of the gospel. I’m excited!
If your school would like to know more about how they can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission service-learning and ministry partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/service-learning/
Read more stories about school partnerships and school service-learning at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/local-partners/schools/