Cross-cultural healing through education, historic leadership gathering in Korea

Slider_APAMEI Graphic pos 2By Nicole Burdakin

Over 150 participants from 20 countries convened for an international conference February 1–4, 2015, in Incheon, Korea, of the Asia-Pacific Association of Methodist-related Educational Institutions (APAMEI). This organization, formed in 2012, promotes collaborative and cooperative institutional networking among United Methodist-related schools, colleges, universities and theological schools in the Asia-Pacific region.

The conference, themed “Mutual Healing in Cross-Cultural Contexts: Promoting Reconciling Global Leadership for 21st Century Education,” took place on the international campus of Yonsei University, hosted by the Global Institute of Theology (GIT).

“Concern for health and healing is part of the Wesleyan and Methodist tradition…. The world today is in need of much healing and the remedy for many maladies is in the power of education,” said the Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, general secretary of GBHEM, in a welcoming address at APAMEI Opening Worship.

“This past year we all witnessed the tragedy of the Ebola outbreak. Talk about the need for healing,” said Cape. “In view of this great challenge, Methodist education proved to be an antidote to many evils…. We are making progress, but there is much more to be done. Poverty, ethnic conflicts, intolerance, and the threat of war still plague us in various parts of the world, also in the Asia Pacific region.”

Speakers at APAMEI 2015 included Bishop Yong-jae Jeon (President of the Council of Bishops of KMC), Bishop Rodolfo Juan (Presiding Bishop of the UMC Philippines), Dr. JC Park (President of Korean Methodist University), Dr. Pamela Lightsey (Associate Dean, Boston University School of Theology), Dr. Suk Hwan Jueng (Dean of The United Global Institute of Theology and UGST, Yonsei University) and Dr. Elizabeth Charles (President of Isabella Thoburn College, India), among others. Performances at the conference were by the Wesleyan College of Manila Choir, Yerang Praise Team and the Korean Traditional Performing Arts School.

“In the wake of the horrific violence of ISIS against humanity the gathering of APAMEI promoting mutual healing and reconciliation across cultures was very meaningful,” said the Rev. Dr. HiRho Park, director of Clergy Lifelong Learning at GBHEM.

“When the choir of Wesleyan College of Manila sang ‘Let There be Peace on Earth’ several of us became teary-eyed because of the evil of violence that destroys life, community and relationships,” Park said. “The APAMEI gathering itself was a powerful testimony of Methodist education that has nurtured countless Asian Pacific young people with good character, sound scholarship, and consistent excellence.”

“It was a time for Methodist educators to commit ourselves once more to promote unity in diversity in our teaching and learning as people of Wesleyan heritage,” Park concluded.

The APAMEI 2015 Conference passed a resolution to establish the “Methodist Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation (MIPR)” for the formation of artisans of peace, responding to the call “Blessed are the Artisans of Peace—They shall be called Children of God” (Matthew 5:9). This initiative will engage in education, promotion and communication, networking, and research in the cross-cultural dialogue, peace, reconciliation, social healing and justice together with partners of common interest. A special committee will be formed to further hone the vision, mission and strategies for launching this new initiative to develop ‘reconciling leadership’ in the Asia-Pacific and global contexts.

Additionally, Dr. Priscilla Viuya, GBHEM board member and president emeritus of Tarlac State Universtiy in Tarlac, the Philippines, was elected to the APAMEI Board of Directors at APAMEI 2015. She is also president of the newly founded Philippine Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges, Universities, and Seminaries.

“I come from a country with cultural diversity and where co-existence is the only solution. Mutual healing in cross-cultural context allows us to live with each other and [heal through] forgiveness and reconciliation, to think beyond boundaries of culture,” said Dr. Neerja Masih, head of Department of Biotechnology, Isabella Thoburn College.

Isabella Thoburn College in Lucknow, India, will host the next APAMEI Conference in 2018.

GBHEM promotes global education and supports emerging networks of institutions working on global theological education and global higher education in several regional contexts, including Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and most recently the Philippines. All together, these networks represent more than 800 United Methodist institutions in nearly 80 countries.

Burdakin is editorial and production assistant, Office of Communications.

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