From the CTCT Secretariat
“The tide. tide is time, tide is timing, low tide, high tide, it’s the moment, the Kairos” (Don Chambers, CTCT, 2021).
In oceanography, the turn of the tide symbolises “a reversal of the direction of motion [rising or falling] …of a tide” (Mc Graw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 2021).
As an idiomatic expression, the term can be compared with others such as “a moment of truth”. At the CTCT’s (Conference on Theology in the Caribbean Today) 26th and inaugural virtual conference held from November 8–12, the theme The COVID Effect: Turning the Tide was seen as the kairos moment (a word of Greek origins, meant to connote the fulfilment of time, the right moment) for theological reflection in the Region.
There were both admissions and challenges put forward to the Conference from the start. At the opening Mass celebrated in St Lucia, founder Monsignor Patrick Anthony (‘Paba’) revealed that for a few years the CTCT had harboured making this conference more comprehensive in scope and that the Covid-19 effect had turned the tide to greatly expand communication and capacity, making it more ecumenical and interfaith in perspective.
This reverberated with a challenge coming from Barbadian Prime Minister, Mia Mottley in her opening address to ecumenical and interfaith cooperation and shared initiatives, to heart-living, inclusion and a theology animated by action.
Twenty-seven presenters in addition to several artistes and guests took the Conference through Covid-19 experiences helping us confront our stories of: pain, hope and joy.
In doing so, we explored the psalms, the dark and light of education, Covid romance among the youth and journeys of rejection, and misunderstanding of our Caribbean artistes.
Experiences were related back to our own Caribbean experiences of a disrupted past, shattered selves, darkness and light and our ongoing struggles with our post-colonial context.
The challenge to remember the giants on whose shoulders we stand was lived out in the honouring of Anglican Canon Knolly Clarke and the late Peter Telfer. Canon Clarke’s involvement in labour, culture, interfaith solidarity, and education stood as an icon of all the conference aims to stands for.
Telfer’s ability to live Eucharist in his connections, love and generosity was recognised. Yet so was the stark truth of his life and music which was presented as something which many liked but, perhaps, many more didn’t.
This honest research was done by three scholars who examined issues of the effects of slavery and colonialism on our sense of the sacred, cultural prejudice and self-contempt.
Then there were the shared challenges of living religion in a Covid-19 environment which emerged in the ‘Dr Idris Hamid Memorial Lecture’ and featured representatives across several faith traditions in the Caribbean.
Among the common themes emerging were – the relooking at self/faith traditions, the challenge of going out instead of playing it safe within; ministry as vocation, not location; and crisis as opportunity.
The youth segment also put forward serious challenges to the way we conceive family and ageing, contemplative living through the mundane of life, healing the earth and the eucharistic understanding of what we receive and who we are through a re-emphasis on the ‘I’.
CTCT member Fr Martin Sirju surmised that the work remains unfinished as he called attention to areas of possible further exploration surrounding the way we express the Caribbean experience through natural metaphors, the struggle against the stifling colonial and post-colonial legacy, ecumenical and interfaith cooperation and the need for more dialogue, the deeper sense of the community, a call to action and an emerging theology of hope through the use of art, literature and interreligious insights.