The 2014 Costas Consultation on March 28 focused on Christians in the Middle East, and attracted many students, faculty, and interested lay people from diverse traditions associated with the Boston Theological Institute (BTI) of ten theological institutions in the greater Boston area. The consultation included a panel of student papers, the viewing and discussion of a film about Christians in Iraq, “Displaced in their Homeland,” and two key speakers. Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou, Harvard University researcher, and former Vice-Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, gave a lecture identifying and challenging five key myths about Christians in the Middle East (the myths of pluralism in the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East as the “Muslim World,” Christians as foreign invaders, Ecumenical Solidarity, and Israel as a protector state for Christians) that when taken together, perpetuate the oppression and persecution of Christian communities in the region. The keynote address was giving by Bishop Elias Toumeh, Antiochian Orthodox Bishop of Pyrgou. Bishop Toumeh gave a heartfelt address on the struggle of Christians in Syria, and the importance of sacrificial leadership; the Bishop also looked at the positive opportunities that Christians have to minister in a time of conflict, such as serving as hostage negotiators. You may read a fuller account of the Bishop Toumeh’s address in an article by the The Pilot, “Syrian Bishop Finds in Solidarity Boston.”
Many CGCM associates participated in the event; student Daryl Ireland was a key coordinator of the Consultation. Another student, Gina Zurlo, presented one of the student papers centered on a demographic perspective of Christianity in the Middle East. Gina has shared her presentation with us here (costas middle east). The Consultation was an important opportunity, not only to educate the community about ancient Christians in the region and their plight for survival and religious freedom, but also to hear from people living in areas of conflict, and the forging of ecumenical support across nations and traditions.
Michele Sigg, PhD student and Project Manager for the Dictionary of African Christian Biography, has recently published an article entitled “Carrying Living Water for the Healing of God’s People: Women Leaders in the Fifohazana Revival and the Reformed Church in Madagascar,” in the journal Studies in World Christianity, Volume 20 (April 2014), pp. 19-38. Well done Michele! You can read the abstract below, and link to the article here.
Abstract: For over one hundred years the Fifohazana Revival has played a key role in the spread of Christianity in Madagascar. The Fifohazana is an indigenous Christian movement that seeks to serve Malagasy society through the preaching of the Gospel and a holistic ministry of healing in community.
This article summarises the findings of a study that explored the role of women leaders as holistic healers in the Fifohazana revival movement and the Reformed Church (FJKM) in Madagascar. Based on interviews with four women ministering in the Fifohazana or the Reformed Church, including a rising leader in the revival movement, this study highlights the importance of women leaders as radical disciples and subversive apostles in the Fifohazana revival movement and in the Reformed Church. As such, these women have been instrumental in bringing renewal into the church through the work of the Holy Spirit in the holistic healing ministry of the Fifohazana.
Doctoral student Christopher James has recently reviewed a book on the intersection of ecclesiology and anthropology, Perspectives on Ecclesiology and Ethnography, edited by Pete Ward. Check out the review in Missiology: An International Review 42 (1), January 2014, 92-93.
Gina Bellofatto, student affiliate of the CGCM, and Dr. Todd Johnson’s described, “Key Findings of Christianity in Its Global Context, 1970–2020.” The article appeared in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research and is available for free to online subscribers.
Doctoral student Gina Zurlo has recently given several papers and lectures at social science conferences. In August, she presented a paper at the American Sociological Association annual meeting in New York City, titled, “Christian Sociology in Transition: The Institute of Social and Religious Research,” which discussed an early phase of American sociology and its intersections with the social gospel and ecumenical movements in the early 20th century. She also gave a paper at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion annual meeting in Boston on the development and use of demographic databases.
Doctoral student Gina Zurlo was on the faculty of the Global Ecumenical Theological Institute at the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, South Korea (October 30–November 8, 2013). Gina gave a lecture titled, “Demographics of World and Asian Christianity” to a group of 200 students from 60 countries, representing 80 different denominations, and also offered reflections on the future of the ecumenical movement in light of trends in global Christianity. Videos of her lecture can be found in two parts, here and here.
PhD student Christopher James has been busy publishing several articles on missiology. Chris’ two peer-reviewed journal articles are: “Missional Acuity: 20th Century Insights Toward a Redemptive Way of Seeing,” in Witness: Journal of the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education, vol. 26 (2012); and “Some Fell On Good Soil: Church Planting in Religious Ecologies,” Witness: Journal of the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education, vol. 27 (2013). Well done! We look forward to sharing more of his work.
Doctoral student Christopher James has recently published an article entitled: “Education that is Missional: Towards a Pedagogy for the Missional Church,” in Social Engagement: The Challenge of the “Social” in Missiological Education (Wilmore, KY: First Fruit Press, 2013, p.146-169). You can also access the article free online. Chris’ article has also been cited by by the African scholar who visited the CGCM in June, Dr. Fohle Lygunda, Head of the Department of Missiology International Leadership University in Burundi. The abstract of the article is below:
This paper explores the implications of missional theology for Christian religious education in congregations. In particular, it draws on recent notable missional titles to do three things: 1) to clarify the meaning and aims of missional education as Christian education that specifically privileges the goal of helping Christians discover and live into their identity as God’s cooperative partners in the missio dei, 2) to identify key characteristics of missional education, namely, attention to identity and acuity, life as the classroom, and Scripture as mission narrative, and 3) offer a modest proposal for missional education in the congregational setting through small communities of shared practice.
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. He can be found at www.jesusdust.com,www.newseattlechurches.com, and @chrisbjames.
Student Gina Zurlo Bellofatto gave a presentation at the Global Leadership Forum in Bangalore, India this June, called “The State of the World.” The video of the presentation is available for all online at the Lausanne Movement website. Congratulations to Gina!
Student Travis Myers has reviewed a noteworthy book exploring theology and missiology, Local Theology for the Global Church: Principles for an Evangelical Approach to Contextualization. His review can be found in Missiology: An International Review 39, no. 3 (July 2011): 413-414.