This October 20-23, I had the opportunity to travel to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, to participate in a consultation organized by the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The consultation explored developing curricula for missionaries, pastors, and laity designed around Together towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes, the WCC’s new affirmation on mission and evangelism.
The content of Together towards Life has been summarized and critiqued elsewhere, so I will not do so here. Readers interested in seeing the document themselves may visit http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/commissions/mission-and-evangelism/together-towards-life-mission-and-evangelism-in-changing-landscapes
Participants in the consultation came from all around the world, including the Americas (US, Argentina, Jamaica); Europe (UK, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Romania, Hungary, Italy); Asia and Oceania (Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Korea); and, of course, Africa (South Africa, Rwanda). One of the richest parts of the event for me was meeting these scholars and practitioners and learning from them.
The consultation was an intensive period of study, reflection, and discussion. We spent Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday in discussion, both plenary and small groups. We spent Tuesday visiting sites near Durban associated with mission: an AIDS resource center started by a congregation of the Methodist Church in South Africa, a charismatic healing preacher, and the school started by John Dube, an indigenous South African leader and missionary protégée.
The discussions about the document were rich. Several items rose to the top as considerations in preparing Together towards Life curricula. The importance of contextualizing the document was tantamount. Questions of access, distribution, and translation were raised. The group also noted the distinction between a WCC-driven process of curriculum development and a grassroots process.
In the end, it seems like both processes will proceed. The WCC will continue to assemble working groups to develop curricula, but other groups will also do their own work on the document. Among those efforts is one that I facilitate. UM & Global (umglobal.org), a blog sponsored by the United Methodist Professors of Mission, is currently in the midst of a discussion of the potentials and pitfalls for using this document in teaching.
David W. Scott, ’13
Many alumni associates of the CGCM have gone on to make important contributions to the history of Christianity as it has developed in various parts of the globe. Alumnus Myung Soo Park of Seoul Theological University, has gone on to be a distinguished senior historian of Korean Christianity. He returned to his alma mater this past week, sharing his work and research while visiting CGCM Director Dana Robert.
Dana Robert visits with Myung Soo Park
There was a BU alumni meeting at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. Dr. Seong Jung Joo (Th.D in Liturgics and Mission from BUSTH), Dr. Soo-Young Kwon (M.Div from BUSTH, Ph.D in Religion and Pychology from GTU, Berkeley) and Dr. Charles Farhadian (Ph.D in Anthropology and Mission from BU Religious Studies) gathered after Dr. Joo preached at Yonsei chapel last week. Joo is the senior pastor of Juan Presbyterian Church, which is one of the largest congregations (so-called Mega-churches) in South Korea, having 30,000 member and 70 associate pastors. Dr. Kwon is professor of pastoral theology at United Graduate School of Theology, Yonsei University and director of Yonsei University Center for Counseling and Coaching Services. Dr. Farhadian is professor of world religions and Christian mission of Westmont College and teaching at Yonsei University for this semester, while taking his sabbatical year. They had a wonderful time together, sharing their lives and work.
By Duse Lee
Seong Jung Joo, Charles Farhadian, and Kwon Soo-Young
What are the three greatest challenges facing us in the next decade? This important question was the topic of the School of Theology’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni panel. The panel, “The Three Greatest Challenges Facing Us in the Next Decade,” was composed of the recipients of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards. among this years winners was Rev. Canon Titus Presler (Th.D), mission activist with experience in Africa and Asia, and current Principal of Edwardes College in Pakistan, chose to respond to the question by thinking about how differences across and within communities are all too often associated with danger. Read Rev. Presler’s compelling presentation online at Engaging Difference: A Major Challenge of Our Time.
In a recent visit to Boston, Bishop Abraham Mar Paulos of the Mar Thomas Church in Delhi reinforced the idea that world Christianity is, at least in part, a network of relationships. Bishop Abraham Mar Paulos, formerly known as Dr. K. U. Abraham, is an alumnus of the Boston University School of Theology, and friend of Dana Robert. With them in the photo is Jesudas Athyal, a Visiting Researcher at the Center for Global Christianity and Mission, and Inus Daneel, the former co-director of the Center, and now professor emeritus from BU.
Alumnus Dr. Amos Yong has been appointed as the new Director of the Center for Missiological Research and Professor of Theology and Mission at Fuller’s School for Intercultural Studies. In his new role, he will also direct the School of Intercultural Studies’ PhD program. You can read more about this exciting new appointment on Fuller’s news-site.
The July 2014 issue of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research contains a new article by alumnus Dr. David Scott, entitled “The Geographic Imagination and the Expansion of Methodist Missions in Southeast Asia,” IBMR 38:3 (July 2014): 130–34.
Synopsis: Missionary work by the Methodist Episcopal Church began in Southeast Asia in 1885 in Singapore. The Malaysia Mission spread throughout Southeast Asia, establishing work in Singapore, Penang, peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Java, and Sumatra, as well as maintaining nominal oversight of mission work in the Philippines. By using geography to justify its extension across distance, the Malaysia Mission acted similarly to other global systems.
The article is available for free to online subscribers.
Photo courtesy of KibiraFilms International
The 2014 commenement of Boston University marks the 40th anniversary of the graduation of one of the School of Theology’s most important African graduates: the late Bishop Josiah Mutabuzi Kibira. Josiah Kibira graduated with an S.T.M. from the School of Theology in 1964. A pioneering local and international leader, Josiah Kibira became the first African to be elected bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Buhaya, Tanzania. He served in the World Council of Churches, and was the keynote speaker at the All Africa Conference of Churches General Assembly held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Bishop Kibira was also the first African to be elected president of the Lutheran World Federation. The memory of Bishop Kibira’s leadership is marked by the establishment in 2010 of an institution of higher education in his name, the Josiah Kibira University College in Bukoba, Tanzania. His son, Josiah Mwesigwa Kibira, is an established director and screenwriter, who in 2010 released a documentary about his father, Bishop Kibira of Bukoba: An African Lutheran. For a fuller account of Bishop Kibira’s life and service, see his biography on the Dictionary of African Christian Biography, and the History of Missiology.
We have just received notice that Charles Farhadian’s “Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion”, which was co-authored with Lewis R. Rambo, has been released. According to the book’s listing on the Amazon website, it “offers a comprehensive exploration of the dynamics of religious conversion, which for centuries has profoundly shaped societies, cultures, and individuals throughout the world. Scholars from a wide array of religions and disciplines interpret both the varieties of conversion experiences and the processes that inform this personal and communal phenomenon.”
Sung-Deuk Oak’s new book, The Making of Korean Christianity, published this fall as the first of the new Baylor Studies in World Christianity monograph series, has been named “Book of the Year” by Books & Culture magazine.
You may view the announcement here.