CGCM student associate and PhD candidate Daewon Moon is now teaching church history and World Christianity at International Leadership University – Burundi (ILU-Burundi) in East Africa. For the next few years, Daewon will be supervising the bachelor’s and master’s programs in the School of Theology at ILU-Burundi. His wife, Jeonghwa, is working as Director of the Leadership Language Institute at ILU-Burundi. Her responsibilities include developing curricula and training instructors to teach academic English to prospective students in a more effective way.
As the only university in the country that offers English-based degree programs, ILU-Burundi has been growing substantially over the past few years. It now has more than 300 students from 10 different countries in Africa and Asia. Recently ILU-Burundi launched two joint graduate programs in partnership with North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa: Master of Theology (MTh) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) with three concentrations, 1) Missiology, 2) New Testament, and 3) Practical Theology.
The Eastern Fellowship of the American Society of Missiology held its annual meeting November 7-8, 2014 at the Maryknoll Mission Institute. The subject this year was “Christian Mission in Times of Persecution.” Nina Shea, of the Washington-based Hudson Institute provided a summary of contemporary religious persecution, and Titus Presler reflected on “The Toll on the Soul” of those living amidst oppressive conditions. Boston University was well represented at the event. In addition to alumnus Titus Presler, Professors Dana Robert and Inus Daneel attended, as well as eleven students.
Since 1988, Dana Robert has served on the Board of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals. Over the years, the ISAE produced important literature on a number of topics, including the relationship between American Evangelicalism and missions. At the end of October, the ISAE gathered for the final time. They both looked to the past, and what the institute has accomplished, as well as to the future and what horizons are yet to be explored.
Evangelism and mission are increasingly important aspects of theological education in seminaries. CGCM student associate and PhD candidate Christopher James will soon start a new position teaching and researching in these areas as a faculty instructor in Evangelism and Missional Christianity at University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. James is currently working to complete his dissertation tentatively titled is “New Ecclesial Life in a Post-Christian Context: A Practical Ecclesiology.”
The American Academy of Religion has sponsored research into how the social composition and identity of Christians in India differs from that in the diaspora. The project is ongoing, but the second workshop convened on September 20th at Boston University to review and consider what has been learned thus far. Scholars from India and the United States, as well as a number of delegates from Greater Boston’s various Indian churches met together to hear and interact with the findings.
Thomas Thangaraj, from Boston University, offered the keynote address. In addition, Jesudas Athyal, a visiting researcher at the Center for Global Christianity & Mission, and Joshua Kalapati of Madras Christian College presented the project and led the conversation.
This year’s American Society of Missiology Conference on the theme of “Contextualization in the Contemporary World” took place at the University of Northwestern—St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota. The thirteen possible tracks, which reflected the anthropological interests of ASM President Dr. Robert Priest, included a symposium on Third Wave Mission, a panel on witch accusations, “Worship and the Arts” (ethnodoxology), a panel on contributions from the Global South, “New Faces of Mission in the 21st Century, and a sponsored track on African leadership. Representing BU were Lisa White as well as Christopher James, Ruth Padilla-DeBorst, and Michèle Miller Sigg who all three presented papers. Ruth Padilla-DeBorst presented a paper entitled “Doing Theology for Life: Radical Evangelical Theological Formation for Integral Mission in Latin America.” Michèle Miller Sigg’s paper entitled “Until Lions Start Writing their Own History: The Challenge of Contextualizing the Research, Writing, and Teaching of African Christian History” was part of the Emerging Ideas and Practices track, facilitated by Padilla-DeBorst.
In the absence of Dr. Dana Robert, student associate Michèle Miller Sigg was invited to attend the African Leadership Study consultation that took place immediately following the ASM. The ALS is a study project led by Bob Priest that started in August 2012 and is funded by Tyndale House Foundation. Between 2012 and 2013, faculty members and graduate students in Africa collected data from over 8,000 Christians from Kenya, Angola, and Central African Republic in an effort to identify influential African leaders and organizations. Some of the outstanding leaders were then interviewed in a follow up phase. The papers presented at the ALS consultation used data from this study to examine various aspects of the influence of these African leaders. The papers will eventually be published in an edited volume.
By Michèle Sigg
Dana L. Robert, CGCM director, presented, “Twentieth-Century Mission Studies and the Narrative of ‘World Christianity’.’” The audio file is a fascinating historical study on the rise of the term, “World Christianity.”
Histories of American sociology generally acknowledge, to varying degrees, Christian involvement in the development of the field. Much of this attention, however, underemphasizes two highly influential movements in early-twentieth-century Christian thought, the social gospel movement (1870s–1920s) and the rise of the global ecumenical movement (beginning in 1910). One under-researched, yet particularly revealing example of the impact of these movements is the Institute of Social and Religious Research (“the Institute”; 1921–1934), founded in 1921 under the leadership of global Christian leader John R. Mott and funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The Institute was comprised of Christian social scientific researchers who promoted interdenominational cooperation by engaging in scientific inquiry regarding the structure, current status, and functions of religious institutions and life in the United States. The Institute strived to maintain a high level of academic rigor while also retaining a religious motivation that included service to others, a classic struggle in the early history of American sociology.
The publications produced by the Institute were groundbreaking in their applications of social scientific methods to the study of religion in the United States, most notable of which included Robert S. Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd’s highly generative and controversial Middletown study. In an overview of the largely unexplored tenure of the Institute, this paper brings together important trends in the early twentieth century to provide a unique perspective on the historical and theological contexts for the development of American sociology as an academic discipline.
To learn more, see “The Social Gospel, Ecumenical Movement, and Christian Sociology: The Institute of Social and Religious Research” (June 2014) by Gina Zurlo, a CGCM student associate, in the online version of The American Sociologist. Boston University students can access the journal through JStor and other hosts, and the article will appear in print version in 2015.
In the last few decades, Christian development has grown so rapidly in some quarters it is almost synonymous with mission. Earlier this year Dr. Todd Johnson led a residency study on religion and development in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Dr. Johnson was assisted by CGCM student associate Eva Pascal. The residency study is part of the World Christianity Doctor of Ministry program through the Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.
The team of teachers and D.Min. students spent an intense and rewarding two weeks visiting over 20 non-governmental and faith-based organizations in various parts of northern Thailand. These NGOs and FBOs were selected for the range of scale, religious affiliations, and the variety of social, political and environmental issues they addressed. They also included large scale international organizations like ADRA, and local projects like Hope Home, a small house for disabled children. Many of the organizations focused on the challenges facing minority people (called Hill-Tribes) in the areas of education, sexual exploitation, health care, and land rights. Students were able to see first-hand not only some of the central challenges in the region, but how organizations have stepped up to address them, and how faith-based organizations work to integrate mission into their work. The residency was such an overall success that another residency in Thailand on religion and development is in the works for the next residency cohort.
Despite distress about mainline decline and the rise of the “Nones”, church planting in North America is booming. According Warren Bird and Ed Stetzer, these new church starts are even outpacing closures. This presentation will discuss the patterns in mission and spirituality among new churches started in Seattle, Washington since 2001. As the largest city in a region distinctive for its weak religious institutions and a preponderance of “Nones”—Seattle is near the front of national “post-Christian” trends. As such, missiologists and practioners interested in the North American context can learn much from the forms of ecclesial mission and spirituality taking root in Seattle soil. Analysis of surveys from more than half of the 100+ new Seattle churches has revealed four dominant patterns in spirituality, eight salient mission priorities, five key identity features, and four paradigmatic combinations of these which serve to lay out the diverse field and invite missiological imagination.
CGCM Student associate Christopher B. James presented these findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Missiology in St. Paul, Minnesota. His presentation was titled “Patterns in Mission and Spirituality Among New Churches in Seattle” and highlights some of the early findings of his dissertation research.
You can learn more about his research by reading “Ecclesial Pioneers in the Pacific Northwest“, published online via Christ & Cascadia, a new online journal for practical and theological engagement with Cascadian culture and ministry. You can also explore his research site (www.newseattlechurches.com) which features a map of new churches and follow the project on Twitter (www.twitter.com/newSEAchurches).
Christopher B. James is a PhD Candidate in Practical Theology at Boston University School of Theology with training from Fuller Theological Seminary, Wheaton College, and the Renovaré Institute. You can connect with Christopher and explore his work via Academia, www.jesusdust.com, and @chrisbjames.