OBSA’s main goal is to foster Oceanic biblical scholarship. This requires a serious consideration of Oceania's many knowledge traditions, value systems, world-views, experiences, and issues that threaten their well-being of its islands and islanders (such as climate change, neo-colonialism, neo-liberalism, and migration, to name a few).
OBSA’s vision is to create a space for island scholars to share and exchange research and scholarship in biblical studies and interpretation, foster mutual support, intellectual growth, and professional development. In addition to this vision are the following. First, to facilitate a broad and open discussion from a variety of perspectives, particularly that of the minorities and the marginalized in Oceania. Second, to encourage study and interpretation of biblical literature and related literature using traditional and diverse methods and approaches in the varied Oceanic cultural and lingual contexts. Third, to collaborate with educational institutions and other appropriate organizations to support contextual biblical scholarship, interpretation and teaching. Fourth, to develop and publish resources for diverse audiences, including students, religious communities and the general public in both English and the vernacular languages. Fifth, and finally, to discuss and develop a viable biblical curriculum in the cultural setting of Oceania.
OBSA’s first meeting took place in Auckland in July 9-10, 2010, funded and co-hosted by the University of Auckland’s School of Theology, and Trinity Theological College of the Methodist Church of New Zealand. The main theme for this gathering was “Climate Change in Oceania: Biblical and Theological Responses.” Participants at this first meeting were mainly biblical scholars from New Zealand, Australia, Pacific Islands, and a few from seminaries in the United States. Prof Geoff Austin (Geophysicist, University of Auckland) and Prof Elaine Wainwright (also of the University of Auckland) were amongst the keynote speakers.
The second meeting took place in July 1-2, 2011 in Samoa, hosted by the staff and students of Malua Theological College. This meeting focused on the theme: “Empire, Migration, and Oceanic Biblical Interpretation.” The idea behind taking OBSA to Samoa is to make it available to people in the islands, and encourage more participation. About 90% of the participants at this meeting were Samoans. Those who joined the gathering from outside Samoa included Dr Monica Melanchthon (Secretary, SABS), Dr Jione Havea (Charles Sturt University), and Prof David Chalcraft (Sheffield).
The third meeting convened in Tonga, 28-30 August 2012, at the University of the South Pacific Tonga Campus in association with the Pacific Council of Churches and the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga. This gathering focused on "Pacific Hermeneutics" and the participants included academics, politicians, students from Sia'atoutai Theological College, representatives from NGOs and community groups. The key organisers were Dr 'Ana Koloto, Director of USP Campus, and her staff, as well as the General Secretary of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, Rev Dr Tevita Koloa'ia Havea. The group was treated to dinners at Sia'atoutai and Little Italy, plus a lunch at Mameisini Beach, Ha'avakatolo village, to the west of Tongatapu.
The fourth gathering was held at the Pacific Theological College, Suva, Fiji in 2013. The Principal, staff and students of the College did the planning and attendees from various parts of the Pacific gathered. This meeting was marked as the inaugural gathering of OBSA, and rightly so since PTC is the centre of theological education for the Pacific since 1965. Then it was decided that OBSA will meet every two years, beginning with the one at Piula Theological College in 2015.