By Beatriz Ferreiro García from Matanzas-
The Evangelic Seminar on Theology (Seminario Evangélico de Teología -SET, in Spanish) of Matanzas, Cuba, presented yesterday the book “Empowering Diacony: a model for the service and transformation in local congregations” by Carlos Emilio Ham Stanard, theologist and presbiterian-reformed preacher.
The event was held at the Margaret McDougall Memorial Library and counted with the presence of directives, professors and students of the different courses of the SET.
The book, which counts 305 pages long and has been edited by the Seminar of Matanzas in collaboration with Caminos Publishing, pertainign to the Memorial Centre “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr”, presents the outline, construction and implementation of a diaconal scheme aimed to the service and transformation of the ecumenical movement and congregations.
From his experience as a preacher, and the heyday of diacony during the last years, the author puts up a diagnosis on the present time and presents the scheme of epowering diacony as a new method for the service and transformation in the ecumenical movement and the local congregations. Likewise, he goes deepens in the diaconal work done in Cuba discussing topics such as the diaconal job to be done by the Church Council and the five dimensions of empowerment in the practice of diacony in the island.
Professor’s Ham investigation analyses key stages in the historical development of diacony and the empowerment in the ecumenical movement and the World Church Council, from the first days of the 20th century to present days. Through five chapters, the book makes emphasis on matters paramount to the study of a period when concepts like “inter ecclesiastical help”, “the ecumenic sharing of resources”, “partnership” or “ecumenic diacony” were coined. A first version of the book was published in English under the title “Empowering Diakonia: A Model for Service and Transformation in the Ecumenical Movement and Local Congregations” in 2015. The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Free University of Amsterdam), Netherlands, which can be freely downloaded here: http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/handle/1871/53516
Dr. Elina Ceballos, coordinator of the Department of Diacony of the Cuban Church Council, presented the book. She considers Ham’s work a didactic tool of undeniable interest, which “leads to analyse how to conduct the diaconal practice with proposals that make it easier at a local level, from a theoretical basis and, likewise, from its adaptation to different contexts and the consideratio of experiences related to global ecumenical organisations.”
From a personal point of view, Ceballos encouraged the public to read the text, stating that “the work challenges the way to be a part of the church in Cuba nowadays, and focuses on the longing for transformation of the human being in their search for justice, peace and, in particular, the protection of creation as a whole, through the connection with those most in need.”
Ceballos, who also wrote the prologue for the book, pointed out that “there’s no finished model on how to be a community in faith and how to be a visible expression of Christ’s body. Servitude to those most in need always poses a challenge and it is key to remain open to hearing God’s voice. Experiences like the ones compiled in this book help the church recognise God’s intervention.”
The president of the Directive Board of the SET, presbyter Edelberto Valdés, vicepresident “bishopesse” Griselda Delgado, Carlos Emilion Ham (author of the book) and other authorities of the Seminar and of the Reformed-Presbiteran Church of Cuba were present at the event.
Presbyter Carlos Emilio Ham, (Santiago de Cuba, 1956) has a PhD in Ministery obtained at the Presbiteran Theology Seminar, Austin, Texas, and in Philosophy in Theology obtained at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Between 2001 and 2003 he worked as an offical at the World Church Council, first in the Evangelisation Program and then in the Diacony and Latin America and the Caribbean programs. Since 2015 he has held the position of professor and director of the Evangelic Seminar on Theology of Matanzas, where he also works as a director of the Cuban Diacony School. “The Homiletic Tripod (El trípode homilético): a guide for lay preachers” (2000) and many articles and essays on diacony, mission, evangelisation and Homiletics are among his works.
Along with Empowering Diacony, the SET published four copies of their magazines Theologic Cuba (Cuba Teológica), focused on the broadcasting of the studies relevant from the Seminar in the different fields of the teaching and researching tasks, and Didajé, focused on the building and updating of knowledge of preachers and laypersons in biblical, theologic, anthropologic and pastoral matters.
Both the book and the magazines can be freely downloaded from the “Publicaciones” section at the Evangelic Seminar on Theology website.
Translation: Camila Llobet