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Newsletter CThM July 2021

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Words from the Director

The academic year is ending, and at the Center for Theology of Migration, we've experienced both wonderful and trying moments.

The fellow learners have all worked very hard to complete the one-year postgraduate program for migrant pastors and church leaders. Corona challenged the fundamental foundations of education, namely being together in class. Yet each of our fellow learner never gave up on completing this program successfully. To me, the most awe-inspiring event occurred when one of our fellow learners was hospitalized due to covid. He was so driven that he watched the lectures through zoom from his hospital bed, complete with oxygen mask. What fortitude, what determination.

On behalf of our fellow learners and my colleague Dr. Danielle Phillips-Koning, I would like to convey our appreciation to the sponsors who provided financial assistance to our fellow learners with a particular thanks to stg. Zonneweelde. Despite his retirement, Dr. Simon Ririhena, co-founder of CThM, continued to assist us with his inspirational lectures. Additionally, the following guest professors and speakers should be mentioned: Professor Dr. Eddie van de Borght, Professor Dr. Leon van den Broeke, Professor Dr. Miranda Klaver, Professor Dr. Stefan Paas, Dr. Arjan Plaisier, Professor Dr. Joke van Saane, Professor Dr. Mirjam van Veen and Professor Dr. Heleen Zorgdrager. They have all motivated us via their lectures.

Finally, but certainly not least, we are grateful to Samen Kerk in Nederland and the Vrije Universiteit Faculty of Religion and Theology for providing us with this unique opportunity for migrant pastors and church leaders. Additionally, the faculty's administrative team has been a tremendous source of assistance and support for us. We are grateful to my colleague Dr. Danielle Phillips-Koning for creating this lovely newsletter; I hope you find it enjoyable to read.

Keep yourself safe and have a good time on your vacation.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Director, Center for Theology of Migration

CThM completes the year with a live graduation

After a full year of online classes, on July 2 we completed our program with a live graduation at a beautiful venue in the Bijlmer. The joy was great – at last we had the opportunity to reflect together in person, take much overdue group pictures, and enjoy fellowship over shared tea and coffee. In addition to the highlight of handing out diplomas by both SKIN and VU, we celebrated with a good number of speeches by staff and fellow learners. Some of the reflections of this year’s fellow learners included:

  • “The program was like undergoing surgery: being cut open with a clear vision like a knife and then getting some iodin for the wounds”;

  • “I am truly overwhelmed by what I learned”;

  • “I learned much about who my ancestors were”;

  • “I want to be a pioneer in developing non-western theologies”

We are immensely proud of our seven graduates who have done excellent work in their courses and internships this year despite the challenging circumstances. We know that they will continue their work as change agents in theology, culture, social justice, and mental health in powerful ways!

Excursions to Sites of Religious Migration in Amster

The opening up of society allowed us three other ‘live’ events in the last month. We had two excursions to sites of religious migration in Amsterdam: one with last year’s group – who had never been able to do this due to COVID – and one with this year’s group! As always, the visits to the old Wallonian church, Jewish museum and synagogue and other sites were a powerful reminder that with religious migration, there is nothing new under the sun.

This year’s fellow learners also had the opportunity to collectively visit the VU for the first time where they were generously welcomed by several of our faculty staff, especially by Mr. Hennie van Nieuwenhuijsen, Mrs. Ingrid le Duc and Mr. Jan-Jorrit Hasselaar ensued by some lively discussion.

International learning

COVID brought some unique moments to our online classroom. At one point, we had fellow learners engaging with lectures from 4 different countries on 3 continents! Also, our ‘Public Theology’ course was joined by a Korean Ph.D. student with a special interest in this course and later shared that it had deeply inspired him to engage in bridge building between Koreans and the Japanese.

Research: Expert Meetings & New Projects

The network ‘HUB mental well-being for Christian migrants’, which is being developed and co-facilitated by our researcher, continues to organize expert meetings with academics and professionals in the field. Students in our program are also encouraged to do their internships in this area (though they are always free to choose other topics of their interest). One of our fellow learners this year presented his internship research at the last expert meeting in March, another one will do so at the next meeting on September 29. One of last year’s students decided to continue to pursue the topic of mental health in Christian migrant communities in a subsequent academic program. In these ways, our education and research programs are increasingly becoming fruitfully linked. You can find more information about the HUB network and the upcoming expert meeting here:

Current research projects include a study of a mental health community program that is especially developed for Christian migrants and includes both theological and psychological perspectives. There is also a study being done on how pastoral care is developed in intercultural care situations: what are the dynamics of pastoral care when the pastor and church/community member have very different cultural backgrounds?

Summer Break

Plenty of things to digest and prepare for the upcoming academic year, where we will start again with 7 brand new fellow learners with again very diverse backgrounds. As much as we look forward to a new round of discussions, learning, teaching, and researching, we feel the fatigue and look forward to a good summer break! We wish you a restful and rejuvenating Summer and hope to see many of you ‘in real life’ again soon after!

Dr. Danielle Phillips-Koning

Assistant Professor, Center for Theology of Migration

Dr. Samuel Lee

Director, Center for Theology of Migration

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