Pacific Churches Urged to Bring 'Coconut Theology' to Global Platform

An ecumenical church leader from the Pacific region urged representatives at the 9th Assembly of the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) to be assertive "in bringing Pacific perspectives and experience into international forums."

In his keynote speech at the PCC assembly, which is taking place Sept. 2-8 in Pago Pago, American Samoa, John Taroanui Doom, a president of the World Council of Churches (WCC), explained that people from the Pacific region have experienced, and are experiencing "the effects of all the major issues that have affected the world."

Among the "major issues" affecting the Pacific region and the world, Doom mentioned colonialism, migration problems, the downside of tourism, issues of democracy and good governance, the ravages of climate change and its long-term effect, and "the geo-political tensions played out in our region by larger nations."

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These issues are the context from which "Pacific theological insights" – often coined as "Coconut theology" – come out. They need to be considered "alongside those that emanate from Europe," Doom said.

"Here in the Pacific we prefer our world maps to have our Pacific Ocean in the center," he affirmed. "That is our world – the ocean is our center."

While the rest of the world may think of the Pacific as "the region of blue skies, swaying palms and gracious hotel living […] we know we are more than that," he added.

The WCC president called on the 200 delegates from 25 churches and seven national councils of churches attending the gathering at the Kanana Fou Theological Seminary to change the attitude and mindset which makes Pacific people feel "junior or inexperienced."

As the "liquid continent, a continent different from any other continent in the world," the Pacific region is "unique," concluded Doom.

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