Theology program at the VU and PThU tackles urgent themes such as racism, gender-based discrimination and inequality

Ónline symposium (16-17 Oct) to celebrate 25 Years of Bridging Gaps: Intercultural Theology for a More Human and Equal Society.

10/08/2020 | 2:30 PM

From 16 to 17 October, the online symposium "Building bridges towards a more humane society" celebrates the 25th anniversary of the international theology program Bridging Gaps. For a quarter of a century, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) and the Protestant Theological University (PThU) have trained participants to be theologians who pay attention to urgent themes the world currently addresses: racism, gender-based discrimination, economic inequality, people trafficking, especially in women, migration, and the climate crisis. Bridging Gaps continues the tradition of liberation theology that has put such themes on the agenda since the 1960s, but has faded into the background in recent decades. Click here for the full program.

Bridging Gaps is a good example of long-term commitment to many issues that matter at the moment. Participating students have different theological backgrounds, from conservative to progressive, but all rediscover liberating forms of  theology. Moreover, Bridging Gaps is an important source with this international network and experience. PThU professor Klaas Spronk: “Participants learn to look beyond and build bridges with people they otherwise would never talk to. This is a process of interaction by students and teachers of both universities, in reflection on church life in Amsterdam and a number of church congregations in the Netherlands. That’s very exciting, because it often exposes fixed beliefs in the field of faith and ethics.”

Practical results Bridging Gaps
Former students of Bridging Gaps often implement lessons learned into their everyday life and country. VU professor Peter-Ben Smit: “For example, Manuel Ernesto, now a bishop, is committed to a refugee camp in the north of Mozambique. Another participant, Thane Htut Pan, has become a teacher of Gender Studies at an institute in Myanmar. He tries to teach his students about gender and its importance for men as well.” Furthermore, another student is devoted to the political situation in Colombia. And participants from Indonesia address pastoral care and advocacy around migration and trafficking of women. "These are sensitive themes that can only be put to discussion when students learn how to be persistent and to have courage," says Smit.

About Bridging Gaps
201007 Bridging Gaps TEXTBridging Gaps started in 1994 to facilitate intercultural and ecumenical exchange between participants from the Global South and promoting contextual theology. Participants learn how context influences one's understanding of theology, and how context can enrich theology. Twenty-five years later, more than 250 students from 40 countries of different faiths participated. In a world that is hardening, Bridging Gaps wants to focus on lasting relationships, solidarity across borders and building bridges where there is disagreement. And to do so in the areas of class, race and gender, and everything related to it (climate change, migration, abuse , etc.) to contribute to a more humane world based on religious inspiration.

How to register
Please send an e-mail to bridging.gaps@vu.nl. After registration you will receive a Zoom link and password to join the online streaming.