CGCM Notes: March 2023
Legend has it that for years the Association for Asian Studies steadfastly refused any public conversations about Christianity in China because Christianity was Western not Asian. A stalwart of the AAS, historian Kathleen Lodwick of Pennsylvania State University, continued to lobby for the importance of Christianity in modern China, and ultimately gained permission to form the China Missions Group in 1983. Later renamed the China Christianity Studies Group, this collection of scholars has helped move the study of Christianity in China out of its foreign religious ghetto and into larger conversations about its role in Chinese society, politics, culture, economics, science, and more. No one doubts the importance of Christianity in China any longer, and it is hard to describe it still as a foreign import when, in fact, China’s 100 million Christians have turned their faith into an export, sending their own missionaries across Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America, and Oceania.
This month, the China Christianity Studies Group will celebrate its 40th anniversary at Boston University. Its parent organization, the AAS will hold its annual conference just a mile down the road, so the Center for Global Christianity and Mission invited the CCSG to use space on campus to host its annual gathering. Separated from Boston’s Convention Center, this event is now free and open to all interested in Christianity in China. You can join us in person on March 18th at 7 pm EST, or you can participate online. This is an opportunity to hear how the study of Christianity in China has become a flourishing field.
Other significant opportunities to hear about Christianity in China are available this month. On March 21st, Boston’s various theological schools will collaborate to present “Christianity in China Today,” an event that will bring together scholars, students, and missioners to reflect on the rapidly changing religious landscape in China. One week later, Eugenio Menegon will offer an online workshop about the Chinese documents available in Archive of the Congregation of the “Propaganda Fide” in Rome.
The Center for Global Christianity and Mission has prioritized China as one of its research foci. This month is an opportunity to expose yourself to what that means and discover what the China Christian Studies Group knew four decades ago: Christianity is vital for understanding China, and now also for grasping the dynamism of World Christianity.
CGCM, Associate Director