We are glad that EATWOT finally have a WEB PAGE: this is a space to give voice to all members and coordinators so that regional news and activities be published and known in the four corners of the planet. We want to inform the latest news: though not so recent, it is of interest of all members because these news state deep changes being made in the structure of our Association, decided in our last General Assembly.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN 2018
We want to explain that, as everybody knows, there have been thorough political and financial changes in the world since 1976. The funding agencies have apparently lost much of their previous interest in the area of theology and religion,therefore the support for theological activities decreased considerably in the last two decades.Ten years ago we, the General coordination, announced that our financial situation would not allow us to continue holding large international meetings,paying air tickets to members coming from the four corners of the world, as in the past. At the same time, the World Forum on Theology and Liberation (WFTL) became more suitable to the funding agencies for its structure molded in flexibility and plurality. The fact that EATWOT members participated actively at this Forum since the beginning, conveyed the agencies to consider that EATWOT had turned out into the WFTL. This meant that we had to find a strategy to hold our general assembly, which was not exactly a “general” meeting for its size and participation. The WFTL general secretary, L.C. Susin, gave us the possibility of holding a meeting during the WSF, that is, some days before the 2018 WSF which was held in the North of Brazil. Most of the EATWOT members that were invited to participate actively at the WSF and the WFTL,came on their own, sponsored by the universities where they worked or by their churches.
The VIII General assembly of EATWOT was held at the Centre of Mercedarias Missionnaries, Salvador, Brazil, from 10-11 March 2018.
This assembly was called by Luiza E. Tomita, who was the President of EATWOTat the time. Members present: Adam Chepkwony (vice-President/Kenya), Luiza Tomita (president/Brazil), Gerald Boodoo (US), Michel Andraos (Canada,) Lal Shirley Wijesinghe (Sri Lanka), Shanthikumar Hettiarachch (Sri Lanka), Kochurani Abraham (India), GeraldinaCéspedes (Guatemala/Sto. Domingo), Lilian Lira (Brazil), Claudio Carvalhaes (Brazil/US), Marcelo Barros (Brazil), Sinivaldo Tavares (Brazil). On the 11th there arrived: Luiz Carlos Susin (Brazil) and Diego Ierrázaval (Chile).
The main discussions were around the below themes:
(1) The financial problems affecting EATWOT and the difficulties in maintaining a worldwide association;
(2) The need of updating the rules of EATWOT and therefore its Constitution and by-laws;
(3) The search for a better expression than “Third World” Association; and therefore the discussion of a more appropriate name for the Association;
(4) The search for a more appropriate means of coordination/administration and connection among the regions.
During two days, after revising its History, Constitution and present challenges, it was decided:
(1)To update the Constitution, but before making any changes,new methodology/logistics of EATWOT should be put into practice so that the new organization could be thought of with consistence;
(2)The position of President should be abolished and a provisory Council should be formed for a term of 3 years;
(3)The name “EATWOT” should be kept to maintain its identity, but a more appropriate name should be discussed, maybe as an amendment to EATWOT.
(4)This Council will be constituted by 3 persons: one from Asia,one from Africa and one from Latin America (now called “Americas” as US and Canada minorities were included). It will be coordinated by a General Secretary (instead of a President).
(5)This council will discuss the name, the mission, and the structure among the regions during the next three years.
The three persons for Asia will be Shirley Lal Wijesinghe, Shanthikumar Hettiarachch(Sri Lanka) and Rini Ralte (India). Lal will be the General Secretary and Shanthikumar will be the Asia Regional Coordinator. He will also be the Treasurer (and possibly the Executive Secretary) and Rini Ralte will take up the Theological Commission coordination.
Latin America and North America will be called “Americas” and there will be three people in the regional coordination of Americas: Geraldina Céspedes, Michel Andraos and Sinivaldo Tavares. Michel will be their representative in the Council in the first year. In the second year another coordinator will take over and so on.
For Africa, Adam will be responsible for finding two persons who shall volunteer to join the international general team. If he does not find anybody in one year, the responsibility of finding volunteers will be taken over by the General Secretary from the second year on.
The main focus for the next three years will be discussed among the general team (Council, General Secretary and coordinators) and shall be presented in one year maximum.
Diego Irarrázaval accepted to be the Consultant for the new team.
The main changes that were proposed and decided at the Assembly: The first one is that the position of President should be abolished and substituted by "General Secretary". For this position a member of Sri Lanka, Lal Shirley Wijesinghe (firstname.lastname@example.org), was appointed and elected. The VOICES editor is still to be nominated. The Women's Commission coordinators will be announced by the Americas, Asia and Africa Regional Coordinator. The Indigenous Commission and the Afro-American Commission Coordinators will be announced by the Americas Regional Coordinators.
SOCIAL JUSTICE: We have the pleasure of announcing that a team of EATWOT theologians from Sri Lanka headed by Shanthikumar Hettiarachchi, Asia Region coordinator, publishes a Tri-annual 'magazine format' publication, SOCIAL JUSTICE registered in the Sri Lanka Press Council, now at its Vol. 41 No. 196 (March /April 2019). The Magazine indeed has a close relationship with the EATWOT founders, especially Tissa Balasuriya OMI who happens to be one of its long term editors. Its aim is to publish on contemporary social issues, theological debates with a liberation perspective, peace building, reconciliation, education for all, freedom and democracy in the island-nation, Sri Lanka, which faced 30 year home-grown separatist terrorism and more recently 21/4/2019 coordinated attacks by the IS inspired terror also locally formed as if a return of terror. The latest magazine makes references to that specific terror incident. Some of the magazines can be downloaded from this website.
News from Rome, by Diego Irarrázaval,March 8, 2019
Ecological concerns and a joyful Gospel was the focus of a Workshop held in Rome (February 25-27) with 81 participants from several areas of the world. It has prepared the upcoming special Synod of Catholic Bishops (October 2019) on pan-amazonic suffering, resilient population, cultural treasures, challenges so that mission is not done in a neocolonial way. Diego Irarrazaval (EATWOT member, Chile) spoke about ‘People’s spirituality and sectarian problems’. Hopefully local and regional Christian witness may contribute to the well being of 390 indigenous peoples that have 240 different languages, to care of biodiversity and specially of water (Amazon has 20% of drinking water in the planet), to economic justice and peace. Indigenous spiritualities nurture cultural, religious, political values in the midst of world problems.
We want to underline that the positions for Africa are still open - Adam represented the continent at the meeting, but informed that he will not undertake the position of coordination. So we would very much appreciate to hear from African members about the volunteering of members for these positions, which should be decided by an African coordination team. An African Book: “Accounting for the Faith that is in us, Essays in Contemporary African Theology”is going to be edited in the next two months as an E-Book. It was prepared by Profs. Laurenti Magesa and Patrick Mwania,from Nairobi, Kenya, who succeeded in editing a book with essays written by theologians from all over Africa showing local forms of wisdom, the development of faith within cultures, emerging theological paradigms, social-political issues, spirituality, ecology, religious pluralism, postmodern challenges, and so on.
July 26, 2019
Luiza E. Tomita
Former EATWOT President