CBE staff, members, and friends reported powerful experiences and transforming fellowship after returning from the “Side by Side” international symposium held at the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS) in Bangalore, India on Feb. 15–18.
CBE joined SAIACS, Pilgrim Partners, and the Union of Evangelical Students of India, to offer a Christian perspective on gender in an Indian context. The symposium featured speakers from India, Korea, Australia, Great Britain, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and the United States. Western participants reported that the cross-cultural approach gave them new insights into the need for biblical equality in their own contexts.
One of the most influential evangelical leaders in India, Richard Howell, gave the keynote address. Dr. Howell is general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) and the vice-chairperson of the International Council of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA). His address celebrated the interdependence of men and women as reflected in creation (Gen. 2) and redemption (Gal. 3:28), a topic that fit the theme verse for the symposium: “In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man nor is man independent of woman…but everything comes from God” (1 Cor. 11:11–12).
In addition to the faithful and informed sessions and cross-cultural fellowship, symposium participants had opportunities to meet Christians working for gender equality and justice at two hospices and an orphanage for girls rescued from temple prostitution. Another symposium highlight was the worship, which was led by Women of Worth (WOW). This team performed several original pieces and will surely become a leader in church worship.
Symposium planners are considering holding a similar conference in northern India. This would be an amazing opportunity for egalitarians in southern Indian to support those in the north, where the church is more resistant to the message of biblical equality. Please keep preparations for this important event in your prayers.
Four speakers from the Side by Side symposium, Richard Howell, Mimi Haddad, Kevin Giles, and David Claydon, will be in the United States late this summer and in the autumn as part of the CBE lecture tour. Students, university staff, and faculty: encourage your school to host one of these amazing speakers! CBE friends and members: consider hosting a speaker at a chapter meeting or invite them to speak at your church!
Recordings of Side by Side sessions are available from CBE through their online bookstore (equalitydepot.com). SAIACS will also publish the symposium proceedings.