CGCM Notes: February 2023

In 2001, Marthinus L. Daneel and I founded the Center for Global Christianity and Mission. One of its key purposes at the time was to support a Theological Education by Extension program connected with the religiously-based tree-planting and environmental movement the Zimbabwean Institute of Religious Research and Ecological Conservation (ZIRRCON). Our TEE program not only taught such traditional subjects as biblical studies and contextual theology, but we also conducted reflection on ecological ethics with members of African Initiated Churches in rural Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe. The TEE program accompanied an innovative earthkeeping movement that included tree-planting Eucharists with Christians, ancestral veneration tree-planting ceremonies for Traditionalists, gully reclamation projects, women’s earth care groups, and arbor days at public schools. Over a fifteen-year period, we grew and planted hundreds of thousands of trees each year.

Since the 1990s, when Prof. Daneel’s two books on African Earthkeepers were published, commitment to earth care has proliferated in multiple directions, including as a priority for Christian mission. The Center has sustained its interest in African earthkeeping through our website Old and New in Shona Religion and through the innovative scholarship of Visiting Researcher the Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma. 2023 is proving to be a watershed year for conferences on mission, world Christianity, and ecology. Conferences on World Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary, the Yale-Edinburgh Group, and the Korean Global Mission Leaders’ Forum (KGMLF) under the leadership of Research Professor Jonathan Bonk  all concern climate change and World Christianity, mission and ecology, and similar urgent global issues.

Center faculty, researchers, and students will be represented at all three conferences. We look forward to a stimulating year of research on World Christianity, ecology, and mission, an intersection of priorities that was a founding vision for the Center for Global Christianity and Mission over twenty years ago.

Dana L. Robert
Director, CGCM