Dr Paul Verryn facilitated the discussion, Prof Barney Pityana and the Rev Lebaka-Ketshabile preached and the church heads and their representatives con-celebrated. We were hosted by the Presbyterian Church in Imbali and the Rev Lindani Sokhela facilitated our accommodation and catering for the event.
We began the day with a visit to the site of the FEDSEM, which was only accessible through the backyards of the settlement that has established itself there. As we gathered in the ruins of the FEDSEM buildings, the impact of our loss imposed itself vividly upon us. The death of our life together was felt in sadness and anger and the pain of our grief was given some time, in the silence, to be realised. The sound of the singing of the SMMS campus brought a conflicted life into the space of death. We were on sacred ground. We were led in prayer and returned to the church for our service.
After lunch, the discussion was introduced by The Revs Purity Malinga(ex Staff) and Roxanne Jordaan(ex student) and Prof Vuyani Vellem(ex student). There was an energetic participation from the floor, some of which is reflected in the following:
- There should be no basis for ecumenical theological education that derives from only an anti-apartheid narrative.
2.We need an Ethics for Social Transformation(CCLT). Black theologies based on black epistemologies. We must not think diversity, but plural versatility. Diversity is not irrelevant to ecumenicity.
- ‘Unthink’ the West. Black theologies to be further developed. FEDSEM is not supressed.
- What broke the FEDSEM was not ecumenical division, but divisions within the different denominations constituting the FEDSEM.
5.FEDSEM taught critical thinking. Read, Comprehend, Criticize what you are reading.
- Creating and keeping alive the prophetic voice of the Church. Challenging injustices and speaking with one voice.
- Having knowledge of and respect for one another
- How do we open the dialogue to include the wider church. How do we engage other Theological Institutions like CEDARA, COT, TEEC, SMMS. Further, when and how do we engage the Pentecostal and ‘extending’ communities of faith.
There was a concern that the land still belongs to the church and that there could be some possibility of compensation . It has subsequently been pointed out that the government has compensated the respective churches involved in the FEDSEM conclusively. There has been a suggestion that some memorial be erected to mark the profound contribution the FEDSEM has made to the Churches and the country. Engagement with the established community on the property is also a challenge to be considered from an ecumenical standpoint.
Two further suggestions were that consideration be given to changing the name of SMMS to FEDSEM and that some form of apology be given to the people of Imbali.