(left to right: Todd Johnson, Dana Robert (CGCM), and Ken Ross)
Civilitas is a new organization that seeks to encourage evangelicals to have important conversations about difficult topics. It is born out of the initiative of the Rev. Doug Birdsall, former president of the American Bible Society and the Lausanne Movement. Birdsall was motivated to start conversations after the white-supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine innocent people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015. Birdsall was saddened, outraged, and disturbed that black men and women could not feel safe in their own churches.
He brought together Christian pastors and academics from diverse backgrounds to have conversations about what happened and how to heal. This effort led to the foundation of the Civilitas Group.
A number of the CGCM’s members and affiliates were present at the recent founders dinner in Boston. It was a very well attended event, which bodes well for the future of this important organization.
The Civilitas Group is still getting started. More information can be found in an article in Gordon College’s The Bell: http://stories.gordon.edu/dialogue-in-action-gordon-student-scholars-and-the-civilitas-group/.
Two recent graduates of Boston University’s School of Theology, Janjay Innis and Andrea Rocha Soares, were commissioned as missionaries for the United Methodist Church. Soares will serve as a regional missionary in South America, focusing on ministries to women, youth, and children. Janjay Innis will serve as a mission advocate for young adult mission service through Generation Transformation.
The 54th Summer Conference of the Ecclesiastical History Society was held at the University of York in England from July 28-30, 2015. Exploring the theme of “Translating Christianity,” the conference focused on cultural, linguistic, and ritual translation of the Christian faith into different global contexts over the past two millennia. To illustrate the conference theme, a virtual exhibition was put together in collaboration with the Minster Library and the Institute for Public Understanding of the Past, University of York.
In order to make sense of how Christianity has become a world faith as it has crossing geographic, cultural, and social boundaries, many of the papers built on the translatability principle of the Christian message proposed by Lamin Sanneh and Andrew Walls. The creative and complex interplay between the universal Christian message and particular local settings was carefully examined through various case studies in Greek, Latin, Asian, American, and African contexts. CGCM student Daewon Moon presented his paper, “The East African Revival: Transplantation or Indigenization of European Christianity?”
This year, the American Society of Missiology held its conference from June 18 to June 21. The theme was “Missio-logoi: The Many Languages of Mission,” and it focused on the way that words, images, and other forms of human expression relate to Christian mission. CGCM student Laura Chevalier presented her paper, “Mission Spirituality: Trends and Developments Since 1980.”
The CGCM also made a number of contributions at the Yale-Edinburgh Group’s meeting from June 25 to June 27. The theme of the meeting was Religion and Religions in the History of Missions and World Christianity, and several students associated with the CGCM presented papers (Soojin Chung, “Shamanism’s Impact on Korean Christianity”; Michèle Sigg, “The Contribution of Maurice Leenhardt (1878-1954), Missionary-Anthropologist, to the Founding and Growth of French Protestant Missiology”; Stephen Lloyd, “A Bridge to Heathendom? M.L. Daneel, Afrikaans Missiology, and Traditional African Religion”; and Eva Pascal, “Christian Friars and Buddhist Monks: The Making of Buddhism as a Rival ‘Religion'”).
The conference also included a section announcing new resources for the study of missions and world Christianity. Michèle Sigg updated listeners on the “African Dictionary of Christian Biography,” Gina Zurlo announced exciting changes to the forthcoming new edition of the World Christian Encyclopedia, while Eva Pascal and Stephen Lloyd previewed the “Old and New in Shona Religion” web project.
Both the ASM and Yale-Edinburgh meetings provided time for networking among the leading scholars and institutions focused on promoting the academic study of world Christianity and missions. They were successful events that promise to yield a good deal of fruit.
The award winning book, The Making of Korean Christianity: Protestant Encounters with Korean Religions, 1879-1915 was recently reviewed in the Africanas Journal. The publication is doubly significant for the Center for Global Christianity & Mission, as the author of the book, Sung-Deuk Oak, graduated from the Boston University School of Theology in 2002. The review was written by Gun Cheol Kim, a current PhD candidate in Mission Studies at the School of Theology.
Numerous churches have mobilized to respond to the devastation in Nepal. One, in the Boston area, is pastored by an alum of the Boston University School of Theology. In the Boston Globe, the Rev. Dan Pokharel has explained how the local Nepalese community is responding to the crisis.
The CGCM is happy to announce that PhD student Soojin Chung presented her paper “The Role of Female Missionaries in Advancement of Korean Women’s Social Status” at the Evangelical Missiological Society Northeast Regional Conference on Saturday, March 28, 2015. The theme of the conference was “Controversies in Mission.” She discussed the controversial role of female missionaries in educational ministry, pro-Japanese political orientation, and the imperialistic attitude. Full list of presentations can be found here: https://www.emsweb.org/
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.
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.”