The International Training Institute for World Churchmen in Asia
was held at Trinity Theological College, Mount Sophia Road, Singapore
from August 3 through September 14 of this year. Churchmen of
the area gathered with the participants at the opening banquet.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, a Muslim representing the Prime
Minister of Singapore, spoke on the role of religion in world
development. The keynote address on the renewal of the Church
in was delivered by the dean of the Cathedral, Bangalore, India.
Singapore was an ideal location for the ITI not only because of
its location and climate but also because it is a signal demonstration
of nationbuilding in the East. The facilities at Trinity
College were excellently suited to the program, and the support
of the college faculty and the religious community in Singapore
contributed greatly to the success of ITI.
2. Constituents. one hundred and two delegates representing
sixteen Asian nations and seventeen denominations, participated
in the sixweek Institute. There were eighty men and twentytwo
women. Among these there were eleven couples. The delegates as
a whole represented the emerging church leadership in the East.
Most of them were in their thirties; a few were still in their
twenties, and perhaps four were over fifty. The largest delegations
came from India, Malaysia and Australia. From the seventeen church
bodies the largest representations were Methodist, Presbyterians
and Roman Catholics. In total there were fiftysix clergy
and forty-six laymen. The laymen were doctors, civil servants,
housewives, secondary and college teachers, businessmen, social
workers, nurses, laboring men and so forth.
The aim of the Institute simply put was to enable the participants
to be effective forces of renewal in their own local churches.
This required a program of formal education, practical training,
and spiritual motivation. The formal education had to do with
understanding the real world in which men live today and how the
Word in Jesus Christ can be effectively articulated in it. Practical
training meant first of all enabling the delegates to become skilled
teachers to begin the reeducation process of the local church,
which is the first requisite for church renewal. Secondly it meant
equipping them with the methods and tools for social change relative
to the reformulation of local churches and their communities.
Thirdly, spiritual motivation was perhaps both the most important
and the most difficult. It required inspiring the delegates to
initiate action and then giving them the resources to maintain
themselves in the almost impossible tasks which initiating action
would eventually lay upon them.
The accomplishment of this end required a specially designed educational
vehicle. In a manner of speaking, the International Training Institute
was this vehicle. The ITI was a method, not in any detached, mechanical,
or routine sense. It was a method relevant to the human element
in world development. In the broad sense, the design involved
three intents: first, it was an endeavor to bring together in
one educational construct intellectual understanding, practical
training and motivating inspiration. Secondly, it intended to
catch up the total time and experience of the participants during
their six weeks together into a single educational process; and
finally, it was an effort to bind together in one unified educational
construct a wide variety of pedagogical devices, instruments and
techniques for the sake of a comprehensive gestalt of creative
5. Formal Studies.
The mere formal part of the curriculum was an exercise in crash
education. It was comprised of some fourteen courses in all. Nine
of these were content courses, conducted in sequence one on every
Monday and Tuesday and another on Thursday and Friday. These twoday
courses were composed of four sessions, each five hours in length
which included a lecture, a period for individual study and a
discussion seminar. The subject matter in the nine content studies
was theology and sociology. The objective was to obtain a depth
understanding of contemporary society and the role of the People
of God in it. The other five formal studies in the total of fourteen
were social, religious and educational methods. These methodological
studies were constructed as four one-hour lecture courses. They
were held four mornings a week and dealt with the basic principles
for social change, spiritual growth and the educational process.
Major emphasis was placed upon training the participants as grassroots
teachers and leaders in church and community action programs.
Three extended pedagogical laboratories, each covering a two-
day span, were held during the six weeks. In these labs the delegates
created their own lesson plans, lecture models, and course constructs
while they pushed for clarity in study methods and imaginal teaching
procedures. In addition; small group, practiceteaching tutorials
were held each day of the Institute. Here the participants taught
each other both in giving lectures and conducting seminars. There
were also three twoday workshops on the practice of local
church renewal and community reformulation. Most important, the
whole last week of the Institute, which was called a Council,
was given over to working out the concrete strategies and tactics
necessary to the renewal of the People of God in the various regions
of Asia. The students produced, during these workshops; thirtyfive
documents ranging from four to one hundred pages, which provided
the practical tools for their use on return to their homes.
7. Extra-Formal Education.
The academic curriculum of the Institute was set in a carefully
designed context of nonformal educational procedures aimed
at the motivational aspect of the learning process. The range
of this effort was wide and complex and can only be touched on
here. It began with the place where the school was held and with
the decor that provides the immediate imaginal and symbolic environment
of the students. The decor was a labyrinth of maps, art forms,
charts and symbols that quietly but unceasingly communicated the
necessity for globality, the wonder of the gifts of the East,
the possibility of a renewed Church and the imperative for a new
vehicle for society. The timeline or internal rhythm of the day,
the week, the month was another crucial factor and can be seen
through studying the attached schedules. Every Wednesday was set
aside for special happenings. These included a missional exploration
of Singapore; a train trip to Kuala Lumpur to study the urban
industrial and racial situation in Malaysia; a corporate workday
on the campus of the college and a cultural festival in which
the delegates demonstrated through food, song, dance, icons and
drama the unique quality of humanness within their own people.
Each Friday evening offered an encounter with some other renewing
force in society. Illustrative of this was a meal and dialogue
as guests within a Buddhist monastery and a Ramakrishna mission.
Sunday mornings were given to visiting various Christian churches,
a spiritual exercise in ecumenism. Many attended Catholic mass
for the first time in their lives. All of this was not extracurricular
but very much a part of the one educational process.
8. Spiritual Nurture.
Development of spiritual depth and disciplined corporateness are
two sides of a single coin without which the Church will not be
renewed and without which the human element in world development
will not be fostered. To accomplish this with any authenticity
today is no easy matter. The total student body was divided into
four colleges for this end. These colleges in turn were divided
into teams of eight and work units of four. Their first function
was mutual human care for intellectual, spiritual, material and
vocational needs. The second function was discipline of corporateness
for the sake of a common mission. The teams worked together daily
in chores called obediences, relating to housing meals and the
like. The four colleges met separately four times a week around
a common evening meal for two hours. During this time, they discussed
the meaning of the devotional life: mediation, contemplation and
prayer for the secular world. They studied together Kazantzakis'
Spiritual Exercises. They reflected upon the nature and meaning
of corporateness for effective action, and they dealt with the
business of the day and the progress of the Institute. The college
construct was the place where deep personal relations developed
and spiritual motivation for common mission was generated.
This new sensitivity intensified the desire of the participants
to acquire practical skills to fulfill their role as comprehensive
spirit men and leaders of the local church. With enthusiasm and
intentionality they struggled with the formal content and the
practical techniques of the courses. Many became exceptionally
skilled in preparing lectures and leading seminars. For the first
time, some saw that there was a way in which they could grasp
the scope of the social problems that confront them and transpose
it into goals, strategies and tactics by which society can be
changed. They experienced in the college care structures the way
in which the local congregation may know relevant intellectual,
physical and spiritual care, and became sensitive to how they
may deal creatively with other lives.
It became utterly clear to the participants that the Church is
alive and renewable both globally and locally. Because it is at
the local level that social evils and spirit needs are focused,
it is at the local level that the Church is operative to change
lives and to redirect the course of history. They became clear
that a renewed Church means a renewed disciplined, renewed and
radical corporateness, and renewed symbolic power in the liturgy
and worship of the congregation. The participants, looking at
the twentieth century and the many futile attempts that are made
to meet its needs, saw the power of the historical Church, because
of its broad structure, its spiritual resources, and its deep
concern for every man, as the only viable instrument for the restructuring
and enabling of human society. The fact that they are a minority
no longer was the source of selfdepreciation when they realized
that a dedicated few can direct the course of human history and
when they saw that the most vital leadership in improving society
in Asia was directly or indirectly the result of the missionizing
activity of the Church in the last century. Those who came to
Singapore with questions and frustrations left with a new world
upon their hands, with a new appreciation of the local church
and with the self~consciousness that they had the tools to enable
the Church once more to be the enabler of humanness.
12. Gift of the East.
As the staff worked with the Eastern churchmen, they became convinced
that the deep spirit sensitivity of the East is crucial for the
life of the whole Church and must become a part of the life style
of the People of God as the Church becomes one global mission.
They found, moreover, that the westernness of our methodology,
far from violating the uniqueness of their culture and way of
raising the lifequestion, released them to a new level of
struggle in the meaning of humanness. Although we had believed
that the methodology of the sixweek Institute could be used
in other cultures, Singapore concretized this conviction. Not
only is this a method for the consistent qloba1 equipping of the
Church, instantly transferable to other cultures but also it enables
other cultures to make available to all, their gifts of humanness.
Perhaps the reason that this is true is that it grounds the theoretical
in the practical, a demand which is upon all cultures, which then
necessitates embracing the actual situation and making decisions
about the expenditure of life. It was the experience of the Singapore
Institute that the theology of the Word springs to life again
whenever it is incarnated in the life decisions of the participants.
13. Need of Renewal.
Although it had been suspected, it became startlingly clear that
the younger churches as much as the older ones stand in need of
renewal and retooling. It was startling in that the problems
raised as most crucial to the churches in Seoul, Manila, and Alahabad
are exactly the problems which are most crucial for Seattle, Atlanta
and Dallas. In Asia as in the western world the Church has had
a vague awareness of renewal and yet has been victimized by its
minority position and self-depreciation about its role in society.
When, however, a radically intentional training program with practical
methods for social change, methods for imaginal education, and
methods for the reestablishment of the religious life were
made available, the awakened churchmen were ready to move. Although
we knew that man holds the answers to his own questions, we learned
that the answers differ and when shared create a storehouse of
practical wisdom for renewal. Six weeks, we discovered, is an
adequate time for this retraining and the way is practically open,
therefore, for the enabling of the total Church through the wisdom
of the total Church in a relatively short period of time.
14. General Training.
The initial planning for ITI included a carefully conceived and
effective followup program that was both comprehensive and
intensive. As the Institute evolved, the participants became increasingly
vocal about the need for an effective continuing program for training.
It is very clear to the faculty that this imperative for followup
must be met without delay. The help the participants need is,
first, the opportunity for practice teaching in actual reeducation
courses in their own countries under the guidance of experienced
teachers. Second, the participants need the assistance of onthespot
catalytic consultants who can help them begin their own parish
renewal and community reformulation. Third, advisory assistance
must be provided, whereby the area and regional structures are
created through which the reeducation and reformulation
of the church in their area can take place.
1) South East Asia.
Three family Units (six well-trained teachers) will be assigned
to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore at the request of churchmen there.
They will conduct courses, teacher training, and consultations
with local churchmen in Singapore, West Malaysia, Indonesia; East
Malaysia and Thailand. A significant number of those who participated
in the ITI will provide leadership in these ventures.
2) East Asia.
A teaching team will be sent to this area in JanuaryMarch,
1970, where they will be joined by several ITI participants in
holding courses and consultations in Hong Kong, the Philippines,
and other countries of East Asia. Two members of the team will
remain in each area for six months as consultants and teacher
trainers, in response to invitations as they are received.
3) Pacific Islands. At the request of one of the ITI participants,
four teachers (one of whom is an Australian) are being sent to
Samoa as secondary school teachers. They also will offer courses
and consultations for local churches throughout southern Polynesia.
During April to June, 1970, a teaching team assisted by nationals
from Samoa and the Marshall Islands will conduct courses recruited
by local church leaders in Micronesia; Melanesia and Polynesia.
Additonal teachers trained in church renewal and imaginal education
will be sent to other parts of the Pacific to meet the crucial
need for secondary school teachers.
4) Australia and New Zealand.
Six teachers are already working with awakened churchmen here
and in one sense no specia1 followup program is needed.
However, the Australian participants have projected intensive
work in two areas, training teachers and consultants for other
countries, and work among the Aboriginal people (three of whom
attended the Singapore Academy). Special help will be given in
the development of these crucial areas of work in imaginal education.
The vast and densely populated subcontinent presents a more
difficult followup task. A first phase, culminating in the
summer of 1970, will be undertaken step by step as follows:
1) Sept.Dec.1969: Two faculty members, both present
in Singapore, will visit each of the six areas of the subcontinent:
East India, South IndiaCeylon, West India, Central India,
North India and Pakistan. They will provide consultative assistance
for all those who participated in the Singapore Institute and
will assist in setting up educational programs for the winter
2) January March 1,1970: Two teaching teams, comprised
of Institute faculty and participants from the subcontinent
will conduct educational programs in each of the six areas.
a) March or April 1, 1970: Teachers from the two teams will
conduct a special all-India educational conference which has been
requested by several church leaders.
4) 1970. A followup consultation will finalize plans
for the summer Institute by working out curriculum, developing
a systematic recruitment plan, and providing further pedagogical
training for indigenous teachers.
17. Further Institutes.
In the concluding workshops of the Singapore Institute, participants
from both the Southeast AsiaPacific area and the subcontinent
began planning similar Institutes in their respective areas. An
Institute for each area was projected for the summer of 1970.
Possible locations are Ceylon, which would permit both Indians
and Pakistanis to attend, and either Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore
or even the Pacific Islands. Both Institutes were envisioned as
greatly increasing the number of people available for the tasks
of conducting mass reeducation of grassroots churchmen,
beginning the necessary reformulation of existing forms of the
local church by the restructuring of the local congregations and
developing signal parish or community projects that would point
the way for missional involvement in society, and cultivating
the deep spirit resources necessary to sustain the Church in mission.
Participants and faculty share the conviction that the followup
programs outlined above and these two summer Institutes will not
only increase the forces of renewal, but also amplify the movemental
dynamic within the life of the Church in Asia.