More Protestants in Congress on Theology Mean “a more fruitful dialogue”: Baptist Minister

Rev. John Chan in Nairobi during the biannual Pan African Congress on Theology at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Credit: ACI Africa.

Inviting more Protestant Christians in future Pan-African Catholic Congresses on Theology, Society, and Pastoral Life would expand participants’ perspectives, boiling down to “a more fruitful dialogue”, a Baptist Minister who participated in the July 19-22 Congress in Nairobi has said.

In an interview with ACI Africa on the sidelines of the Catholic Congress that the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN) organized at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi, the Director of the  International Partnerships and minister of Canadian Baptist Ministries, a Baptist mission organization, said reflections on issues such as protection of children and women achieve much more is realized across religious denominations.

In the July 21 interview, Rev. John Chan said in reference to a future Catholic Congress, “Coming from a Protestant side, maybe I don't know if there is another one in the future, if it could also expand to include other Protestant members, even from the African Protestant churches.”

“I'm sure it would be a fruitful dialogue this way,” Rev. Chan said, and added, “I think there's a lot of dialogue and cooperation that's possible in the very practical access level.”

Some of the participants at the  pan African Congress on Theology held at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi Kenya. Credit: ACI Africa


The Canadian citizen who presented at the Congress on Theology on July 19 on the topic, “Blessed are the Peace Makers: African Christian Communities Bringing Peace and Hope in the World” acknowledged with appreciation input on issues affecting women and children, including how to empower these groups.

There is need for discussions about addressing challenges women and children face across denominations, he said, adding that women and children are among the vulnerable groups that are prone to abuse.

“If there is an imbalance of power and financial resources, there is a potential for abuse,” Rev. Chan told ACI Africa Africa, and added, “To tackle these issues on the various levels from the top to the bottom, I'm contacting some of the leaders from the Congress who are experts in safeguarding children or women.”

He underscored the need for dialogue across denominations on the challenges women and children in society face, saying such an approach allows drawing lessons from each other.

“Protestants can learn from Catholics and how do you do it,” the Director of the International Partnerships and minister of Canadian Baptist Ministries said. 

More in Africa

Discussions across denominations can facilitate insights on how structures can be put in place “at every level so that we can safeguard children and women from abuse. I think there is a dialogue to be had on that level,” Rev. Chan told ACI Africa during the July 21 interview.

Recalling an earlier discussion on the third day of the July 19-22 Congress, Rev. Chan said, “We're just coming out from a very lively session which is talking about how to protect and safeguard children in Africa, in the churches, and I think that is wonderful that you know really the voices are being heard from every corner and every place.”

“It's an African Congress where the African Christians can have their voices being heard,” he noted about the Pan-African Catholic Congress that Pope Francis lauded as “a sign of the outgoing African Church” in a video recording.

He appreciated the structure of the Congress, combining formal inputs and discussions. “It is not just about learning and listening to the talks and presentations, but also learning from the discussions,” the Baptist Minister said.

Some of the participants at the pan African Congress on Theology held at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi Kenya. Credit ACI Africa


“Everyone has a voice and even those who are voiceless. Oftentimes people talk about women or children who don't have a voice, but their advocates are voicing out for them here in the Congress,” he said, adding, “I'm really encouraged by that, and also challenged by it as a Protestant.”

“That's also something that we need to do more, giving a voice to those who are voiceless,” the holder of a doctorate in systematic theology from University of Toronto in his native country of Canada emphasized.

Addressing himself to the conveners of the Congress, he said, “Congratulations; it's such a wonderful experience beyond what I have imagined it to be. I thank all those who are from the African Catholic churches, just my appreciation for who you are.”

“You're coming out very authentic. You have a passion for your own church, but also for Jesus Christ for living an authentic faith,” Rev. Chan said during the July 21 interview with ACI Africa.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.