The Melanesian Institute

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Official name The Melanesian Institute for pastoral and economic services.
Country / Continent Papua New Guinea / Asia
Director of the institute Rev. Jack Urame.
Legal holder of the institute The following Member Churches and Institutions are legal holder of the Institute: The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea, The Roman Catholic Church of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, The United Church of Papua New Guinea, The Society of the Devine Word, PNG.
Sponsor of the institute The Local Churches name above and overseas donors, that is, missio, Misereor, DKA Austria, Mission Eine Welt, North Elbian Mission Centre (NMZ) and EED.
Year of foundation
Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers) 25
Staff members of your institute
Contact The Melanesian Institute

P.O. Box 571, Goroka 441, EHP, Papua New Guinea


Particulars of your pastoral institute

Official name

The Melanesian Institute for pastoral and economic services.

Director of the institute

Rev. Jack Urame.

Legal holder of the institute

The following Member Churches and Institutions are legal holder of the Institute: The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea, The Roman Catholic Church of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, The United Church of Papua New Guinea, The Society of the Devine Word, PNG.

The Local Churches name above and overseas donors, that is, missio, Misereor, DKA Austria, Mission Eine Welt, North Elbian Mission Centre (NMZ) and EED.

Vision / mission statement

The Mission of the Institute is to promote through participation with its member churches the enculturation of the Gospel mission "to take disciples of all people" in the Melanesian region so that the Christian message and the Melanesian life might come to their fullness as one and that the people of Melanesia should appreciate the Gospel value in the context of their Melanesian setting. This participation is done through programs of research, publication, and courses on cultural and social issues.

Main areas of work

Our main area of work is Research, Publication and Teachings.

Addressees of your work (course participants[1])

Our target groups are the Churches, Institutions and members of civil society.

Year of foundation

Organisational structure of the institute

In addition to the Director and the Vice-Director there is also a department of Research, Administration/Finances, Library, Publication and Building Administration.

Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers)

Currently we have a total of 25 staff (male and female).

Staff members of your institute[2]

Member Representatives sent by the churches: Rev. Jack Urame – Lutheran (Director), Br. Martin Tnines SVD (Assistant Director), Fr. Franco Zocca SVD (Head of Research Dept.), Rev. Gaudi Gabutu – United Church (Research), Rev. Rudolf Lies – Lutheran (Administrator).

Other Research Staff and Volunteers: Br. Maurice McCallum (General Editor), Mr. Nick Schwarz (Researcher).

Other General Staff: Ms. Priscilla Winfrey (Head of Publication Dept.), Ms. Joanna Memsong (Head of Library), Mr. Gabriel Kuman (Research Assistant), Mr.

Gregory Bablis (Research Assistant), Mr. Matthew Timbalu (Research Assistant), Mrs. Francisca Worovi (Administrative Secretary), Ms. Hellen Ovejo (Accounts Clerk), Ms. Yoge Maule (Receptionist-Secretary), Mr. Sipe Tahe (Scanner), Ms. Regina Gabriel (Assistant Librarian), Ms. Theresa Mainge (Subscription and Circulation), Mr. Clive Hawigen (Assistant Editor – until July 2010), Mr. Dominic Sianot (IT), Mr. Hoxie Salem (Maintenance), Mr. Jika Dinisen (Maintenance - casual), Mr. Joseph Wamie (Gardener), Ms. Marie Bare (Cleaner), Mr. Abonaga Katago (Day Security/Gate Keeper).

Qualifications of staff members of your institute

Among our staff two have a Doctorate degree (Zocca and McCallum), four have a Master degree (Tnines, Urame, Schwarz, Winfrey) and four have a Bachelor degree (Gabutu, Sianot, Stanely, Kuman). Others have other qualifications in various fields.

Questions relating to the work of your institute

What pastoral options do you feel obliged to?

We are committed to serve the people of Melanesia by addressing social, cultural and missiological issues through critical scientific enquiry and disseminating the through publication of the findings and offering course and teachings.

What are the pastoral focus areas of your institute?

Our pastoral focus is to work with the churches and institutions as an extension of the churches’ mission to address burning issues of relevance to the people in the society. Issues such as land and churches, marriage, sorcery and witchcraft, disabilities and HIV & Aids are some of our focus areas. We believe that our service through research and dissemination of information will make an impact of the lives of the people.

What pastoral aims does your institute pursue?

The MI's pastoral aim is to be engaged in the process of fostering the Gospel values found within the context of the Melanesian cultural and world view and within the tradition and teaching of the member churches.

What pastoral services does your institute provide?

Our service is expressed through ecumenical dialogue, communication, cooperation with member churches and stakeholders, equality and participation for a just society.

What pastoral processes have you initiated or accompanied recently?

Recently we have completed our research on sorcery and witchcraft and are now still in the process of dissemination. This is done through publishing the results of the research, offering course, lectures and teachings in various places. In the beginning of each year we also offer cultural orientation course for overseas missionaries coming to serve the PNG to make them aware of the cultural issues and dynamics so that their mission can be meaningful.

What does this mean for the areas of catechesis, deaconry and liturgy?

The work of the MI's is relevant to the church leaders, clergies and lay people as it provides information and guide to the mission of the churches so that the Gospel is interpreted and understood both in its traditional and changing forms by means of anthropological, sociological, missiological insights.

What notion of God inspires your work?

That God is living and offers life to all who believed in him, as Christ said: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." So we believed that the Melanesian life and the Christian life might be realized and appreciated. This is expressed through the logo of MI with the symbol or the cross and the snake which suggest, in visual form, the context our service. The cross is the symbol of fullness of life in Christ and the snake is the symbol of life in many Melanesian cultures. In combining the two with an unbroken circle both the Melanesian life and the Christian life might come to their fullness as one.

In how far does Christian spirituality shape your work?

The Member Churches are mission oriented and have the mission obligation. As churches on mission the MI is an institute that fosters the ecumenical venture of the churches in PNG. Those who are sent by the churches represent their church at the institute and provide services as specified in the objective of the institute.

What processes do you use or develop to analyse reality? How are these elaborated and how are they linked to pastoral care? How do you pass these processes on?

The member churches identify issues of importance and propose to us for a possible research into the issue through its governing council. The MI designs the research framework and conducts the research. The results are then analyzed and published through the MI’s journals (Point, Catalyst and Melanesian Missions Series). The published materials and other related information are disseminated through the churches, their institutions and other various stakeholders. The MI staff are also directly involved in the dissemination of the information through courses, workshops and other meetings.

What prophetic approaches does the institute put into practice with a view to shaping society?

The Melanesian Institute through its body of research stimulates theological reflection taking into account the Melanesian themes and issues for the churches to take relevant and appropriate pastoral approaches.

What does the work of the institute involve exactly? (Framework conditions? Publications? Courses? Lectures? Congress?...)

The core business of the institute is research. The results of the research are disseminated through the following ways: Give different course on certain topics to targeted groups, teachings in institutions and at other laces through request, conducting workshops for groups and organizing symposium before major researches are conducted.

What magazines, periodicals, books, manuals, work aids, methodological instructions etc. does your institute publish?

The MI publishes four different journals. They are Catalyst which is smaller in size with several topics, Point which is thicker with a single topic, the Melanesian Series which is in between the Catalyst and Point and Occasional Papers.

The Catalyst is published biannually while Point is publishes annually. The Melanesian Mission Series and Occasional Papers are published occasionally.

What do you consider to be the most important service of your institute?

The most important service of the MI is to respond to the cultural and social issues in Melanesia through its body of research, making critical enquiry and providing information to the churches an other relevant bodies.

How do you evaluate the work of your institute?

Regular evaluation is done through our different departments in their meetings. An overall major evaluation was done in the beginning of last year (2010) of all the activities of the MI: Several recommendations were made and we are now in the process of implementing the recommendations.

What are the most important developments that you are dealing with at present?

In terms of the organisational activities of the MI the most important development is the implementation of the recommendations of the evaluation. This year and next year is the period of restructure of MI. In terms of research the most important project of the institute is the current research on “HIV & Aids and the Attitude of the Evangelical Churches”. Our next proposed plan which we consider important is our next research on “The social impact of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project” in the southern Highlands province.

What are the main difficulties your institute is confronted with in its work?

Our major difficulty is the limited resource we have in terms of personnel. The institute is struggling to recruit and maintain qualified researchers. Qualified researchers outside of the church are on high market and the institute does not have the financial capacity to recruit and pay professionals with high qualifications who are on high demand.

What challenges do you perceive for your institute at present?

There are many challenges but I want to point out only two. The first is the question of the survival of the MI in the next decades to come. We feel that the churches should have a deeper sense of ownership and commitment to the institute and provide financial support as well as capable people who can be able to carry on the work of MI. The second is the question of sustainability of the institute. We are faced with this challenge on how MI can be self supporting in generating income to carry out its functions and be more attractive is a research institute to outsiders as well.

What hopes, dreams and visions do you have for your institute?

To maintain the body of research and the related programs of courses and teachings so that the MI can continue to play a meaningful role in the society. Thus, the MI can continue to play an active role of fostering the Gospel values among the churches, the government and the civil society. We believe that the MI as a unique ecumenical institute should be natured and shaped so that its role for peace and justice in society can be realized. The MI can be an instrument through which peace and social justice can be achieved.

To what extent does your institute support laypeople in the Church and in society?

The MI organizes national church workers workshops where church workers, both laypeople and clergies, are invited to attend. this is one way the MI involves church workers to disseminate its research information.

How do you communicate your experiences and results to the respective local church, to neighbouring local churches and to other addressees (e.g. institutions affiliated to you)?

The MI communicates the results of the research information by publishing journals and books and disseminating them to various subscribers and others. The MI also communicates its research findings through offering courses, workshops and meetings at various places.

To what extent does cooperation with the Bishops’ Conference of your country or with your diocese take place?

The MI does have link with the Catholic Bishop’s Conference (CBC). We are provided with the minutes of the annual meeting of the CBC and we also keep them informed of our activities through their rep who sits at our government council meeting and through our annual reports. The CBC also maintains its membership with MI by paying its annual membership fee.

What linkages/networks are in existence at national level?

At the national level the MI maintains its dialogue and link with the churches and the CBC. They also remain in dialogue and contact with the MI.

What linkages/networks are in existence at international level?

The Melanesian Institute remains in contact with its donor agencies in overseas and keeps them informed of its activities through reports on the progress of the activities of MI on a regular basis, that is, half yearly as well as annually. The MI also remains in contact with the former members of the MI faculty who are residing overseas. The MI also exchanges journals and publications form other institutions overseas.

What kind of interreligious cooperation does take place with non-Christian religions?

The work of the MI is not limited to the churches alone but also extends out to other non church based organisations within the country. Currently there are many non-church based organisations operating in the country and the MI has link to these organisations as well.

What kind of ecumenical cooperation does take place with non-Catholic churches?

The Melanesian Institute is an ecumenical institute owned and run by several churches. The other members of the ecumenical body beside the Catholic Church are the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG, the United Church in PNG and the Anglican Church. Through the Melanesian Institute the ecumenical cooperation between these churches is very positive. These Churches share information and remain in close dialogue and the Melanesian Institute provides an avenue where ecumenical dialogue becomes possible.

Which theological mergers/associations are you affiliated with (personally or as an institute)?

At the moment we are not affiliated with any associations but as part of our restructuring plan for the future of MI we are now in the process of negotiating with the Divine Word University for affiliation. However this is still in the early stage so we will discover the possibilities and options what this idea will mean for the future of the Melanesian Institute.

How can we assist you with your intercontinental exchanges and with exchanges between the continents?

We would appreciate exchange of information, ideas, publications of articles and journals, and other relevant information which might be of relevance to our work at the MI. In terms of personnel we would also appreciate if qualified researchers are engage with our institute to boost our research capacity. If our overseas partners could assist us with volunteers who might be willing to help us with our core business of research we will very much appreciate.

  1. It would be interesting to know among other things whether course participants are active at parish, diocesan or supra-diocesan level and whether courses are attended by priests, religious or laypeople.
  2. It would be interesting to know among other things whether the staff members of the institute are priests, religious or laypeople.