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Mission as Globalization

By Soojin Chung
August 11th, 2016 in Alumni Profiles and News, Publications.

David-W-Scott David W. Scott, assistant professor of religion and Pieper Chair of Servant Leadership at Ripon College and CGCM alumnus (STH ’07, GRS ’13), recently published his book Mission as Globalization: Methodists in Southeast Asia at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. The book unites the history of globalization with the history of Christian mission, examining the global connections produced by the Methodist Episcopal Church’s Malaysia Mission from 1885-1915. Full description of his book can be found here.




A Methodological and Demographic Analysis

By Soojin Chung
July 13th, 2016 in People, Publications, Students.

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.

Indigenous and Vernacular Christianity

By Soojin Chung
June 27th, 2016 in People, Publications, Students, World Christianity.


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.

CGCM Summer Newsletter: martyred Father Machozi and religious violence

By Eva Pascal
May 13th, 2016 in Announcements, Publications.

Newsletter 22 2016 picThe CGCM summer 2016 newsletter is now available in PDF form, and in print at the Boston University School of Theology. The summer issue reflects on the murder and martyr of Father Vincent Machozi, a voice for the persecuted and a witness to atrocities being committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The issue also  reflects on the wider context of religious violence around the world.  You can download the PDF here: Summer 2016 newsletter no. 22.


Perfecting Unity

By dri
May 10th, 2016 in Alumni Profiles and News, People, Publications.

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.

Buddhist Monks, Christian Friars, and the Making of Buddhism

By dri
April 27th, 2016 in People, Publications, Students.

DSC02380-150x150In 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. 

Popular Spiritual Movements in Southeast Asia

By dri
February 23rd, 2016 in Alumni Profiles and News, Announcements, Faculty Associates, People, Publications, Research, Students, World Christianity.

The Handbook on Popular Spiritual Movements (PSM) in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia was a research project and publication owned by Trinity Theological College (TTC), Singapore, under the leadership of Dr. Michael Poon, Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia (CSCA). Boston University, through the Center for Global Christianity and Mission, was a supportive partner through the participation of Dr. Charles Farhadian (PhD 2000) as a co-editor, Dr. Dana Robert as a consulting editor, and the Drs. Septemmy Lakawa (ThD, 2011), Daryl Ireland (PhD 2015), and David Scott (PhD, 2013) as contributors to section III:  Case Studies of Popular Spiritual Movements.

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Education as a Mission

By dri
February 23rd, 2016 in Development, People, Publications, Research, Visiting Researchers.

Education as a Mission

The Greatest Work in the World: Education as a Mission of Early Twentieth
Century Churches of Christ. Letters of Lloyd Cline Sears and Pattie Hathaway Armstrong

The Stone-Campbell Connection

Influences of Stone-Campbell Movement leaders on the writers of these letters are several and strong, beginning with Pattie Hathaway’s grandfather, James A. Harding. In 1869, Harding graduated from Bethany, a rigorous, private college near the Allegheny Mountains founded by Alexander Campbell. Although Campbell had died before Harding enrolled, his educational philosophy still influenced that institution.[2] Harding particularly absorbed Campbell’s emphases on propagating widely-accessible, liberal arts-based training overseen by well-equipped teachers who could guide students in their “physical, intellectual and moral development.”[3] Scholars have observed that this model established the parameters for Churches of Christ educational institutions and Campbell’s influence in this regard is evident in The Greatest Work in the World.

Additionally apparent in the letters is the inspiration of Barton W. Stone, Campbell’s Kentucky-based colleague who may be best known for his leadership in the famous Cane Ridge Revival of 1801. The intellectual foundations on which Stone based his teachings about personal piety are less well remembered today. But traces of his skepticism about modern “progress;” his emphases on spiritual maturity accompanied by ethical actions; and his allegiance to powers beyond those of civil governments[4] are clearly discernable in this volume of correspondence.

This work originates from a family prominent in the Churches of Christ from the mid–1800s through the 1960s. Letters exchanged principally between my grandparents, Lloyd Cline Sears and Pattie Hathaway Armstrong, constitute the bulk of the work. Augmenting their posts are letters from family members J. N. and Ida Woodson (Harding) Armstrong and Pattie (Cobb) Harding, wife of James A. Harding. Written between 1915 and 1921 these letters express an educational philosophy and understanding of Christian purpose inspired by the Stone-Campbell Movement and held in tension with the intellectual and social ferment of the times.

As leaders in “the oldest ecumenical movement in America,”[1] the letter writers helped establish and run a series of small schools throughout the American South, Midwest, and West that influenced generations of students to become teachers, preachers, missionaries, and orphanage directors.

Today, Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee is the oldest establishment in this legacy while Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas has been  the institution most closely associated with the letter writers. Correspondence contained in The Greatest Work in the World dates from a time in between the founding of these two schools, when the authors were running Cordell Christian College in Oklahoma and Harper College in Kansas.

This primary source material allows rare access to privately expressed thoughts of men and women attempting to live as Christian educators at the outset of an uncertain and rapidly changing twentieth century. Their letters also offer encouraging lessons for contemporary American Christians in this even more volatile era.

Containing a foreword by Richard T. Hughes of Messiah College and an afterword by Larry R. Long of Harding University, The Greatest Work in the World is available from Wipf and Stock Publishers.

This webpage contains excerpts from the book along with extra material and photographs not found there.

[1] J. D. Murch, Christians Only, Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2004, 360.

[2] Lloyd Cline Sears, The Eyes of Jehovah, Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1970, 10.

[3] Thomas H. Olbricht, “Alexander Campbell as an Educator,” Lectures in Honor of the Alexander Campbell Bicentennial, 1788-1988, Nashville: Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1988, 85.

[4] Richard T. Hughes, Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996, 92

Elizabeth Cline Parsons, editor
Lecturer on Religion, Culture, and Development
Faculty Associate, CGCM

It is surprising to me how untaught the people of the country generally are. They have learned a few of the very first principles of Christianity and are blinded to all the rest. . . . And so bad is this condition that it will be impossible to change it in one or two generations. The people are not willing to receive the great lessons which they ought to have. . . . Preaching to these brethren might lift them up in two or three generations, but the trouble will be in getting a preacher. All the preachers they would have are the kind which would only emphasize the same condition, and make them worse instead of better. They need someone who can teach to live among them and work and make everyone else work. This can only be done by men trained from their boyhood. And I know of no better place to give boys this training than in a Bible school. We are engaged in the greatest work in the world, and it must go on. Even if you should die the work would have to continue, and I should do my best to carry it on. And I know if I should die you would keep it going; there would still be sufficient—more than sufficient—friends to make it go. And I hope to see it turn out hundreds of preachers, boys and girls, who will make a reformation throughout this whole country [Cline Sears, June 27, 1915]

I am of the opinion you are about our Bible School in the future. . . . In all the history of the school work the schools have been small. The Nashville Bible School is larger to day than it ever has been, but it is losing its spirituality—and we must not do that. The Orphan’s Home must not be large for the same reason. If the Home is crowded I can not have the influence over the children I must have to do what I believe the Lord would want me to do. It would be impossible for me to know each child’s disposition and to know what traits should be encouraged and what traits should be fought and mastered, and, too, I want them to know and love me, but they can not do it if I have too many. [Pattie Hathaway Armstrong, June 21, 1915]

There is a great difference between the people of the world and of the popular churches, and the people of the churches of Christ. Anything that is respectable and respected by society and the world is engaged in by the popular churches. War is not condemned, but is encouraged by the ministers. I heard a prayer recently for the “success of our arms in Mexico,”—which necessarily means the destruction of hundreds of lives and the ruin of hundreds of homes, yet because the world praises it as patriotism the preachers pray for it, and buy flags to lead the army in battle. [Cline Sears, July 17, 1916]

Just before church time I went to the post office just as I told you. The office was empty, so I stood by the window and read your letter in the twilight. I came up the street wishing I could be in a boat on the lake with you when I glanced up and almost caught my breath at the beauty of the scene. Under the trees and among the flowers in Mr. Lee’s yard were hundreds and hundreds of fireflies. I think I have never seen anything more beautiful. The whole world seemed filled with these tiny fairy lanterns. This time I didn’t cry at a beautiful scene. You enjoyed it quite as much as I did. There is quite an advantage in being together though separated, isn’t there? [Pattie Hathaway Armstrong, July 12, 1915]

Click Cordell Christian College Promotional Pamphlets to see some transcriptions of promotional pamphlets produced for Cordell Christian College. The pamphlets provide additional information and perspectives on the viewpoints of the letter writers.

Jesse Lee Prize Awarded to Doug Tzan

By dri
December 21st, 2015 in Africa, Alumni Profiles and News, Announcements, People, Publications, Research, World Christianity.

image001The General Commission on Archive and History (GCAH) of The United Methodist Church announced the 2015 winner of its highly sought-after Jesse Lee Prize: The Rev. Dr. Douglas Tzan (pictured), elder and full member of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference. Tzan’s award winning manuscript is titled “The World His Circuit: The Methodist Odyssey of William Taylor.”

This work is a case study of a Methodist preacher, missionary, author, evangelist and bishop who not only mobilized the then Methodist Episcopal Church across the American frontier but brought the same energy, organization and enthusiasm across six continents. William Taylor (1821-1902) introduced American revivalism in places other missionaries disregarded, growing churches among marginalized populations, especially in South Africa and India. Forged in American Methodism, his global encounters with different cultures, languages and religions shaped the ways and means of the entirety of Christian mission outreach for generations.

The Jesse Lee Prize, awarded once every four year is named for United Methodism’s first historian (1758-1816) and given for serious manuscripts about the denomination’s history, including studies of antecedent Methodist churches or its missions. The $2,000 prize is granted by GCAH to assist authors with publication of their manuscript related to Methodist history.

The Rev. Dr. Tzan currently serves on the staff of the Sykesville Parish (St. Paul’s and Gaither UMC) in Sykesville, Maryland. He holds a PhD. in the field of the History of Christianity from Boston University where his extensive research of William Taylor began. Tzan continued his research utilizing materials at the United Methodist Archives and History Center in Madison, New Jersey. Tzan is a graduate of Iliff School of Theology and The University of South Carolina. He teaches at Wesley Theological Seminary and Boston University School of Theology.

GCAH is pleased to sponsor the Jesse Lee Prize awarded next in 2019. Information about various awards, grants and prizes for scholarly work in Methodist History can be found at .

Evangelicals Around the World

By dri
December 8th, 2015 in Announcements, People, Publications, Students, World Christianity.

51Jt5gwGAdL._SX405_BO1,204,203,200_In the newly released Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century, Gina Zurlo explains how evangelicals are counted. In an age when statistics are despised as “saying anything you want,” Zurlo walks readers through the process of how the data is collected, analyzed, and interpreted so as to arrive at a reliable number of Evangelical Christians in the world. It is the only publication of its kind.

Zurlo is a PhD candidate at Boston University, and is writing her dissertation on David Barrett and Christian demography.