More than 300 pastors, leaders, and scholars gathered from all six Nazarene world regions for the fourth Global Theology Conference from 18 to 21 March in Leesburg, Florida, USA. Philippians 3:10 set the theme for the conference: “Christology — To Know Christ.”
The event included three plenary sessions framed by two papers and four responses. Each session explored one of the various facets of Christology:
- “Who do you say I am?” – Knowing and becoming more like Jesus Christ
- “Take up your cross and follow me” – Becoming more faithful to Jesus Christ
- “As the Father sent me so I send you” – Joining the mission of Jesus Christ
Prior to the event, all conference and response papers were available for participants to read in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. This allowed more time for theological discussion among the presenters, as well as greater interaction with the audience during question-and-answer sessions. Participants’ engagement in the topic discussions was so enthusiastic that every session extended into the designated break times. Graduate students and young scholars played an important role in the conference, bringing the new generation's perspective to the theological conversation.
General Superintendents Filimão M. Chambo, Carla D. Sunberg, and David A. Busic brought relevant messages, informing the conference themes and challenging the group. All participants joined together in small group discussions aimed at extending the exploration and application of insights that surfaced during the plenary sessions.
The small groups were composed of representatives from the various regions and ministry disciplines of the church. Note takers in each group synthesized participant responses to discussion questions and reported them back to conference organizers. This process insured that everyone who participated in the theological discussion contributed a voice in the recorded proceedings of the event. Language specialists interpreted both the plenary and small group sessions in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese for conference participants.
“I was fortunate to be invited to participate in this global event,” said Frank Moore, general editor for the Church of the Nazarene. "The conference had a truly international presence as conference papers, conversations, and prayers originated in the variety of event languages."
The conference was sponsored by the Board of General Superintendents, hosted by the church's International Board of Education, and co-convened by Education Commissioner Dan Copp and Nazarene Theological Seminary President Jeren Rowell. The event highlighted the global connectedness of the Church of the Nazarene, the international diversity of denominational leaders and scholars, as well as the depth of theological insight that this group represented from the 52 institutions of higher education and 30,000 churches around the world.
Previous global conferences were held in South Africa (2014), the Netherlands (2007), and Guatemala (2002).
“It felt like a General Assembly for Nazarene scholars and leaders," Moore said. "I especially cherished our time together in small groups. We brainstormed the most effective ways we could share Jesus as Lord in our varied cultural contexts.”
The Board of General Superintendents and education commissioner are making plans for the next Global Theology Conference in 2022.