Vision, Mission and Values
Why does the Child Theology Movement (CTM) exist?
In obedience to Jesus’ revolutionary action of placing a child in the midst of a key theological discussion (Matthew 18), CTM is committed to reform all theological reflection and enquiry ‘with a child in the midst’ and to ensure that theology of this kind informs every aspect of the church’s life and mission, including that which relates to children.
How does CTM expect to fulfil this commitment?
CTM encourages all followers of Jesus and others to explore and engage with Child Theology by various means including:
- Facilitating workshops and consultations;
- Publishing printed and digital materials;
- Contributing to symposia, conferences, private meetings, development of curricula, etc;
- Holding open-ended theological conversations with partnering organisations and individuals, such as:
– Denominational leaders and thinkers;
– Seminaries and other theological research and teaching institutions;
– Organisations that work with and for children (advocacy, care, equipping).
What values guide CTM in its work?
CTM has the following key values:
- To be a global movement, culturally aware and sensitive;
- To include and learn from minorities, the marginalised and the unempowered;
- To be non-hierarchical and to prepare for CTM to cease to exist as an organisation in 2022;
- To follow Jesus in seeking the kingdom of God of which the child is a key sign, thus valuing the spiritual life of children without making them the focus of our activity;
- To hold respectful dialogues with the Scriptures, current Christian theologies and the world; and
- To listen and to respond to others.
As registered in the founding documents, the objectives of CTM are:
The advancement of the Christian Religion, primarily but not exclusively by the carrying out of research and education on the nature and significance of children, especially as represented in Christian Religion by the teachings and practice of Jesus Christ; and by the training of church leaders to support the ministry of the Christian Church to children worldwide.
CTM is a registered Charity in the United Kingdom as THE CHILD THEOLOGY MOVEMENT LTD
Charity number 1106542
Address: 10 Crescent Road – Souuth Woodford – London – E18 IJB
CTM has depots for CTM materials in different continents. For all initial enquiries contact Caroline Harrison: Caroline@childtheology.org
CTM Around the World
The first region to form it own network was Australasia.
CTM in Australia (July 2010)
Following the Australasian Consultation held in Newcastle in 2007, a smallgroup of Children & Families practitioners agreed to meet together consider how to progress the Child Theology Movement in Australia. This small group subsequently facilitated a session at the 2009 “Leaders 2 Go” Conference that has in turn led to the formulation of a series of draft “Aims and Objectives” for the CTM in Australia.
- Foster the development of theological academic research, publications and course outlines relating to Child Theology
- Ensure every student in an Australian theological college has the opportunity to engage with the tenets of the Child Theology Movement
- Assist the church at a local, regional, state and national level in applying the insights derived from a “child in the midst” approach to the church’s whole life and mission
- Establish a national “college” of Children & Families ministry that would develop and implement strategies to integrate Child Theology as outlined above
- Develop and implement a state-based strategy for engagement with theological colleges
- Develop and implement a strategy within each denomination for discerning and applying the insights derived from a “child in the midst” approach to its life and mission
- Develop a methodology involving consultation and collaboration that facilitates engagement with Child Theology at different levels of ministry.
‘The Child Theology Movement in Australia’ Report by Chris Barnett- Download here
The Story of Child Theology
At an international conference (“Cutting Edge III”) of Christians involved with children at risk in 2000, the participants responded to one of the papers by asking over 200 heartfelt theological questions. The conference asked for further theological reflection on these questions, which eventually led to what is now called Child Theology.
In Penang in 2002, a group met with participants from every continent, male and female, practitioners and theologians/academics. It proved to be a seminal event both for those who gathered and for the process of Child Theology. The report of the consultation was presented to and endorsed by the 2002 Cutting Edge IV conference. Meanwhile contact was established with the many groups, institutions and movements who had already been engaging in Christian child-related activity and some degree of theological reflection.
Since then, consultations have been held in South Africa, USA, England, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Brazil, Ecuador, Sweden, Australia, Nepal and India with similar mixed groups of people gathered around a table to explore what it means to put a child in the midst of theological issues in particular cultures and contexts. Reports of these consultations have also been published in both electronic and hard copy form and may be purchased from this website (as may all our publications) for delivery by post.
A charitable company has been established to facilitate the process with particular reference to ensuring that people from the two-thirds world could be full participants in a truly global process.
In June 2004 and 2006, the second and third international consultations in Penang reflected on the process thus far, took part in the opening of the CH.I.L.D. Resource Center, and considered strategic options and directions for the future.
Directors and Personnel
The Directors of CTM are:
Marcia Bunge – Professor and Bernhardson Distinguished Chair of Lutheran Studies in Religion, Gustavus Adolphus College, USA.
Haddon Willmer – Emeritus Professor of Theology, Leeds University.
Keith White – Visiting Lecturer, Spurgeons College, London, UK and MBTS.
Bill Prevette – Research Tutor & Director of Practitioner Research, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.
Victor Nakah – Senior Vice President of Spiritual Ministry with CURE International.
DJ Konz – University of Aberdeen (PhD Candidate).
Marcia J. Bunge, Ph.D.
Country of Origin: USA
Marcia is a Professor of Religion and the Bernhardson Distinguished Chair of Lutheran Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minnesota). She received her B.A. in English and Music from St. Olaf College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Marcia taught at Valparaiso University, Luther College, and Luther Seminary before joining the Gustavus faculty. After completing my Ph.D. she translated and edited a selection of texts by J. G. Herder entitled Against Pure Reason: Writings on History, Language, and Religion (Fortress 1993). Her current area of research is religious understandings of children and childhood, and she has edited and contributed to four volumes on the subject: 1) The Child in Christian Thought (Eerdmans 2001); 2) The Child in the Bible (Eerdmans 2008, co-edited with Terence Fretheim and Beverly Roberts Gaventa); 3) Children and Childhood in World Religions: Primary Sources and Texts (Rutgers 2009, co-edited with Don S. Browning); and 4) Children, Adults, and Shared Responsibilities: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives (Cambridge University Press 2012). For several years Marcia co-chaired the “Childhood Studies and Religion Consultation” of the American Academy of Religion (2003-2008) and currently serves on the international board of the Child Theology Movement and the steering committee of the “Children in the Biblical World” section of the Society of Biblical Literature. Marcia has two children: Anja and Isaac.
D J Konz
Country of Origin: Australia
DJ Konz served with the international child development and advocacy organisation, Compassion Australia, for eleven years, most recently as the Executive Director of Child Advocacy, in which role he led the organisation’s strategic advocacy for children to government, media and church bodies. DJ has been part of the Child Theology Australia working group since the first Australasian Child Theology Consultation in 2007, and joined the CTM Board of Trustees in 2013. For three years DJ served on the National Steering Committee of Micah Challenge Australia, and is also part of the Global Children’s Forum Advocacy group. He is currently completing his PhD at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, on the topic ‘The Child in Relation to God, with reference to the theology of Karl Barth.’ He has three beautiful girls in his family: his wife Louise and their two daughters, Bethany and Emelyn.
Country of Origin: Zimbabwe
Rev. Dr. Victor Nakah is the Senior Vice President of Spiritual Ministry with CURE International. Before joining CURE, Victor served as the Africa Regional Director for Overseas Council International (OCI). He was the President of the Theological College of Zimbabwe (TCZ) for 10 years. He has also served on staff with Scripture Union and the Fellowship of Christian Unions (IFES) in Zimbabwe. Victor is both a minister and theologian and therefore takes the relationship of the church and seminary very seriously. He is passionate about spiritual, biblical and contextual leadership. He enjoys expository preaching and preaches often at mission and student conferences and in a number of churches as he travels on the continent and abroad. Victor, his wife, Nosizo and their 3 daughters, Nothabo and Rumbidzaishe and Chipo, make their home in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Country of Origin: USA
Bill is probably the most unlikely person to be working with children and youth. He was raised in a Methodist Children’s home with 350 other boys and girls in North Carolina, USA. This was during the 1960s at the height of the civil rights era in the American South. Sadly, he wrongly perceived that the adults at the Home were hypocrites and not concerned for his well-being. As a university student, he rejected the Christian gospel as an answer for life’s important questions. In University, he spent his time studying counter-culture politics and physical chemistry, a bad combination for a anarchist. However, his life changed drastically in 1981 when he had a existential encounter with Jesus Christ.
After that experience, Bill and his wife Ky began serving children and youth who were at-risk from abandonment, exploitation, poverty and neglect. This has led them to live and work for the past 28 years in Los Angeles, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Nepal, and Eastern Europe. They are global nomads (i.e. missionaries) with the Assemblies of God. In addition to Bill’s work as a practitioner and activist for children, he completed an MA in International Development and a PhD through the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. His doctoral research was a 5-year field-based investigation of faith-based organizations and local evangelical churches in Romania responding to the crisis for children after the fall of Communism. Bill has been married to Ky for 29 years and has a wonderful son, Daniel. Children and youth have been an important ‘theological pointer’ in their lives and they are honored to work with the Child Theology Movement.
Keith J. White
Country of Origin: UK
He is the husband of Ruth and they have four children, and five grandchildren. They live at Mill Grove in East London, a Christian household and community for children and families needing love and care. Keith is a minister, preaches week by week in a range of different churches, a tutor at Spurgeon’s college UK and lecture and teach in seminaries around the world. Among the books that he has written or edited are The Bible (Narrative and Illustrated), In His Image, Masterpieces of the Bible, A Place for Us, The Growth of Love, and In the Meantime. In his life and theological reflection Keith draws from a number of disciplines including: Literature, Theology, Sociology, Child Development, Theology, Social Work, and Community Development. His PhD was on Pandita Ramabai, a female Indian theologian. His interests include mountaineering, sailing, music and chess.
Country of Origin: UK
Haddon Willmer retired from the University of Leeds in 1998, where he taught theology for 32 years, with special interests in forgiveness and politics, Barth and Bonhoeffer and the future of Christian faith at the mercy of today’s church and world. Since retiring he has had a great time as a research tutor at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, accompanying at least 13 interesting students on their way to PhDs. He has been a trustee of the Child Theology Movement from its inception and of Pace, Parents against Child Sexual Exploitation, since it was founded in 1996. He is married to Hilary, a partner beyond price and a creative Christian social activist in Leeds. They have three children and eight grandchildren.