The two-day Fifth Asian Theological Seminary (ATS) Theological Forum with the theme “The Earth Is the Lord’s and Everything in It: Reflections on Stewardship in the Asian Context” was held 12-13 February 2009. The 772 participants came mostly from Metro Manila; however, a few came from the rest of the Philippines and other parts of the world.
Speakers, both local and international, tackled different aspects of stewardship, including care and preservation of the environment, managing financial and material resources, creating just and humane structures and organizations (governance), and faithful stewardship lifestyle.
Four plenary sessions set the tone and the mood of the forum. Dr. Gordon T. Smith of reSource Leadership International of Canada spoke on spirituality that is Christian and that takes creation seriously. Dr. Katsuomi Shimasaki of Japan Bible Society pointed to the biblical teaching on the new heavens and new earth as our hope and motive for stewardship. Rev. Peter Harris of A Rocha International, a Christian conservation network, shared on “Why Theology Matters to Mangroves.” Marides Carlos Fernando, a local city executive who has led her city to the ranks of “Best Managed Cities in the Philippines” inspired the group with her stories of transformation.
Altogether, there were twenty-six breakout sessions from which the participants could choose. The topics ranged from theological reflections and practical actions on the care and preservation of the environment to concrete models of financial stewardship.
With the current global climate change and international financial crisis looming as a backdrop, the forum was a timely and opportune event. An editor of a Christian publishing company wrote:
[We came] expecting to learn much from the plenary and breakout sessions. We were not disappointed. We, in fact, deepened our resolve to do our part in educating the evangelical community on caring for God’s creation.
Dr. George Capaque, Lausanne International Deputy Director for southeast Asia, chaired the forum, which was held at the facilities of Union Church of Manila in Makati City.