Forum-ing: Signature practice for public theological discourse
This article introduces a unique model for public theological conversation and discourse, which was developed by the Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta (CBC). It was a model developed in response to the problems of poverty, homelessness, and the ‘missing and murdered children’ victimised in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States of America in the early 1980s. It was originally organised to respond to the economic, financial, spiritual, emotional, employment, housing and resource needs of the underserved poor. This unique practice is called foruming. The forum meets every Monday morning, except when there is a national holiday. It has operated 30 consecutive years. The forum has a series of presentations, including the opening prayer, self-introductions of each person, a report of the executive director, special presentations from selected community groups, reports, and then questions and answers. The end result is that those attending engage in a process of discourse that enables them to internalise new ideas, approaches, and activities for addressing poverty and injustice in the community. Key to forum-ing for the 21st century is that it is a form of public practical theology rooted and grounded in non-violence growing out of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s in the United States. The overall purpose of this article is to contribute to the effort of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria (South Africa) to identify those variables that will assist religious leaders in South Africa to develop public conversational spaces to enhance democratic participation. This article presents one model from the African American community in Atlanta, Georgia. The hope is to lift up key variables that might assist in the practical and pastoral theological conversation taking place in South Africa at present.