Dr. Hunter P. Mabry, teacher, sociologist, and missionary, passed away on July 9, 2016, after a long struggle with chronic radiation damage. Mabry obtained his Doctorate in Sociology of Religion and Social Ethics at the Boston University School of Theology in 1969 and had taught and mentored hundreds of students under the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and the United Theological College in Bangalore, India. His memorial service was held on July 16 at the Jesus the Redeemer Church, Roanoke, Virginia. Full tribute can be found here.
Gina Zurlo, PhD candidate and student affiliate of the CGCM, and Todd Johnson, Associate Professor of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, recently published an article “Unaffiliated, Yet Religious: A Methodological and Demographic Analysis.” The article appeared in the Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion and is available online here.
Eva M. Pascal, Michèle Sigg, and Gina Zurlo recently contributed a chapter “Indigenous and Vernacular Christianity” in the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Christianity, a collection of essays exploring a range of topics relating to the spread and influence of World Christianity. Their chapter examines indigenous and vernacular Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. They argue that indigenous and vernacular Christianity is a primary component in the global expansion of Christianity. The volume is edited by Lamin Sanneh, the D. Willis James Professor of World Christianity and of History at Yale University, and Michael McClymond, Professor of Modern Christianity at Saint Louis University. You can find the book here.
Daewon Moon, Doctoral Fellow at the CGCM, was recently appointed as a visiting researcher at the Korea Research Institute for Mission (KRIM). He is involved in a project to develop training materials for Korean missionary candidates under the leadership of the renowned Korean missiologist Dr. Steve Moon, who is contributing editor of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research. Daewon is also supporting KRIM’s annual missiological forum and seminar. Following a year and a half of mission work at International Leadership University in Burundi, he and his family have temporarily relocated to Korea due to political instability in Burundi.
The Atlantic ran an article on the challenge of being a global church. In an interview with CGCM Director, Dana Robert, the magazine explored the complexity of holding together a diverse body with an essentially democratic polity. Currently, the United Methodist Church is struggling with the question of whether gay and lesbian people can be ordained in the church, and whether or not pastors can marry same-sex couples. The questions threaten to divide the church. Yet, Robert saw the current debate as hopeful: “You don’t see Catholic bishops debating these issues with the laity. Their position is set. You don’t see fundamentalists debating this issue with the laity. Their position is set.” But for Methodists, if “you believe in the unity of the church … struggle is part of the process.”
At the United Methodist General Conference, Glen Messer–the first faculty associate of the CGCM, and now an executive in the Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships–announced that the UMC was forming two new ecumenical relationships. One was with the Moravian Church and the other with the Uniting Church in Sweden.
In his new book, Perfecting Unity, Glen Alton Messer II–the first faculty associate of the Center for Global Christianity & Mission–aids Christ’s disciples in discernment in the midst of this present moment of time; in our world and context. The book is also written for those who wish to understand Christians and the things with which they wrestle as they do their best to live faithfully in the world. It is not a book that gives answers. Indeed, it is a book that challenges answers formulated previously by other faithful Christians in different moments and different contexts. It is not a repudiation of what came before; but a reminder that the practice of courage in people of faith necessitates the testing of previous worldviews and the formulation of new best attempts to incarnate the love of God in us and around us.
The book is being published one chapter at a time, with a new chapter appearing every Wednesday until October. The material is digitally accessible now, and later will be available for purchase through Amazon.
In her recent article, “Buddhist Monks and Christian Friars: Religious and Cultural Exchange in the Making of Buddhism,” Eva Pascal (PhD Candidate) demonstrated that the idea of Buddhism as a common religion across much of Asia, did not emerge in the 19th century as has been widely assumed. Instead, it was Spanish Franciscan Friars in the 16th century who, in their interactions with Buddhist monks in Thailand, China, and Japan recognized a common core. The Franciscans not only perceived a single founder behind the various names used for the Buddha in Asia, they also recognized the features of “religion.” In other words, Franciscans concluded that Buddhist monks were not merely superstitious–the label associated with heathen ideas. Instead, they began to use the term “religion” for Buddhist beliefs and practices, because the Franciscans recognized monks as their counterparts. Buddhist monks lived in monastic communities, adhered to a life of voluntary poverty, took vows of chastity, preached obedience to commandments, and the like. The parallels led the Franciscan missionaries to introduce Buddhism to the West as a religion, a total system comparable to Christianity.
At the 75th annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, CGCM Associate Director, Daryl Ireland participated in a panel on “Chinese Christianity Revisited: The John Sung Papers and Chinese Evangelistic Materials.” The panel was organized by the Council on East Asian Libraries, and highlighted Yale Divinity School’s recent acquisition of the journals of John Sung, the preeminent Chinese evangelist of the 20th century. Three librarians spoke about what it means to have access to rare primary materials, particularly from a figure like John Sung. These are the necessary building blocks for scholars to piece together the dramatic story of Chinese Christianity over the last 100 years. Dr. Ireland was then featured as someone who has used the new materials, and he demonstrated how a close reading of one of Sung’s revivals can go a long way in reconstructing the class composition of the people who eagerly gathered to hear Sung preach.
On April 2, Laura Chevalier, Doctoral Fellow at the CGCM, presented a paper at the Northeast meeting of the Evangelical Missiological Society (EMS) in Flushing, NY. In her paper entitled “Midwives and Mamas of the Local Church: Historical Case Studies of Women in Mission,” Chevalier looked at the life writing of two twentieth century evangelical missionaries: Lillian Trasher and Dr. Helen Roseveare. She drew out five themes regarding the local church and mission in their writings and concluded by discussing what these women’s lives and writings bring to bear on evangelical mission today. The conference brought together a broad spectrum of people in the evangelical community including mission scholars and practitioners, pastors, and many lay leaders from a wide variety of denominations. Concurrent paper sessions offered in both Chinese and Spanish during the afternoon session highlights the attention to diversity by conference organizers and the diverse backgrounds of participants.