Umzimba/ServLife Missional Theology Conference Report
Steven Nicholson, ServLife Staff in South Africa
From July 10-12, 2008, ServLife worked with Umzimba, a new group of young African pastors and theologians, to present the first annual Umzimba Missional Theology Conference. Thirty participants from four different African nations came together to present both academic and practical papers on a wide range of topics including Contextual African Theology, Evangelism in Contemporary South Africa, Church Planting in Townships, Theological Education for Africans, African Death Rituals and the Resurrection of Christ, Social Development in a Globalized Economy, and more. After each paper was presented, an official response was given and the group engaged in dialogue and debate around the topic. Several business people, doctors, and students also attended and participated in discussions and presented their own papers from the perspective of young African Christians engaged in the professional world.
Vuyani Sindo from South Africa said, “The conference inspired me to further explore the issues Africans are facing. The community created a warmth and passion in me that makes me want more, it reminds me of the experiences I had upon first becoming a Christian.” One of the Zimbabwean presenters, Darlington Mushambi, described the conference as an enriching and valuable experience.
Plans are already underway for next year’s conference to be held once again in Cape Town, South Africa during the month of July. The organizers are hoping to expand the conference by adding more sessions and inviting international observers from the West to hear about theology and praxis from the African perspective and spend time living and ministering in the African context with some of the presenters. Umzimba leader and conference coordinator Mawethu Ncaca said, “This conference was a dream come true. Our hope for the future is that this journey will continue to include more people from different perspectives so that we can continue to appreciate and learn from them and their experiences.”