News of the extended network of faculty, alumni, students, visiting researchers, and mission partners is regularly updated, and some of the big ideas or major events in Global Christianity are covered in the CGCM News.

Colonialism, Christianity, and Personhood in Africa

“Africans labor under the weight of a crisis of personhood, self-identity, and a split self that is a legacy of Christianity and colonialism,” Nimi Wariboko argues. In his recent publication, “Colonialism, Christianity and Personhood,” which appears in the Blackwell Companion to African History, edited by William H. Worger, Charles Ambler and Nwando Achebe, Wariboko explores the dual nature of African identity, its source in African tradition and Western colonialism and the spread of Christianity. He ends in hopeful expectation that the twin forces within the African self will no longer stand in opposition to one another, but begin to create a new combination.

Beyond Secular Democracy: Religion, Politics, and Modernity

By driSeptember 5th, 2018in Faculty Associates, People, Publications

The presumed relationship between secularism and democracy is precisely that, presumed, argues Jeremy Menchik, CGCM faculty associate, in a recent journal article challenging common convention.

Menchik’s article, entitled “Beyond Secular Democracy: Religion, Politics, and Modernity,” was published in the July 2018 edition of International Studies Review. 

From the abstract of the article:

This review essay synthesizes fifteen years of scholarship challenging the presumed relationship between secularism and democracy—that state secularism provides the normative or institutional baseline for modern governance. The idea that states and societies become more secular as they develop economically is no longer supported by most social scientists, including its original proponents. Sociologists and anthropologists have increasingly studied secularism as a project, rather than a teleological process embedded in modernization, and the new scholarship on “comparative secularisms” demonstrates that the manifestations of secularism are complicated and varied. Despite these advances, the new scholarship suffers from insufficient attention to the measurement challenges posed by the diverse content of religion. And while scholars continue to debate the content and characteristics of our secular age, all of the recent scholarship highlights important differences between traditional and modern religion. In view of the current state of the literature, this essay lays out an agenda for research on religion and modernity, or on modernization without secularization.

Jeremy Menchik’s research interests include comparative politics, religion and politics, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. His first book, Islam and Democracy in Indonesia: Tolerance without Liberalism (Cambridge University Press, 2016) explains the meaning of tolerance to the world’s largest Islamic organizations and was the winner of the 2017 International Studies Association award for the best book on religion and international relations. He has received numerous awards and fellowships for teaching and research, and his work has appeared in the academic journals Comparative Studies in Society and HistoryComparative Politics, International Studies Review, Politics and Religion, and South East Asia Research as well as in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.

Soft Separation Democracy

By driSeptember 5th, 2018in Faculty Associates, People, Publications

Many countries have created a “soft separation” between church and state rather than a wall as in the U.S. Jeremy Menchik, CGCM faculty associate, published a recent journal article examining the phenomenon.

The article focused on states where there is religious education in state schools, significant financial support for religious traditions, limitations on the freedom of nontraditional faiths, and where public opinion favors strong support for religion in public life and state policies. These states–Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, India, Indonesia, and Switzerland–demonstrate the need for scholars of democracy to look beyond secularism as the normative or institutional baseline for modern governance.

Menchik’s article, entitled “Soft Separation Democracy,” was published in Politics and Religion on June 26, 2018.

From the abstract of the article:

How do nonsecular democracies govern religion? Despite two decades of research on the many ways that church and state overlap in modern democracies, scholars lack an adequate answer to this question. Many consolidated democracies have a soft separation between church and state rather than a wall. These are not defective versions of democracy, but rather poorly understood institutional arrangements. To remedy this lacuna, this paper investigates institutional arrangements in six consolidated democracies with a soft separation between church and state: Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, India, Indonesia, and Switzerland. After describing the institutional workings of these states, the paper develops hypotheses for the origins of soft separation democracy as well as addressing the challenges of this form of government. The paper concludes by suggesting three other potentially fruitful lines of analysis as well as elucidating the implications of soft separation democracy for U.S. foreign policy.

Jeremy Menchik’s research interests include comparative politics, religion and politics, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. His first book, Islam and Democracy in Indonesia: Tolerance without Liberalism (Cambridge University Press, 2016) explains the meaning of tolerance to the world’s largest Islamic organizations and was the winner of the 2017 International Studies Association award for the best book on religion and international relations. He has received numerous awards and fellowships for teaching and research, and his work has appeared in the academic journals Comparative Studies in Society and History, Comparative Politics, International Studies Review, Politics and Religion, and South East Asia Research as well as in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.

Call for Papers: Christianity and Social Activism in Chinese Societies

By driAugust 29th, 2018in Call for Papers, World Christianity

February 24-26, 2019 (arriving on 23rd and departing on 27th)

Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

The Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University invites papers that examine the relationship between Christianity and social activism in Chinese societies. We welcome both scholarly research papers of empirical or historical studies and personal reflection papers by Christian social activists.

Christianity is a minority religion in China, but one that has served as a catalyst for social change in China’s modernization. For instance, Christianity is closely associated with the introduction of modern education, modern medicine, modern press and media, modern charities and disaster relief, women’s liberation, and so on. Indeed, Christians have arguably played important roles in several major social movements, from the Taiping uprising to the Republican Revolution, and from the human rights and democratization movements in Taiwan to the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong.

On the other hand, many of the social changes and social movements dramatically altered the social, cultural and political environment for Christianity. For example, following both the Boxer Uprising and the Cultural Revolution, Christianity experienced rapid growth for several decades.  Most strikingly, the Tiananmen Square Incident in 1989 marked a watershed for the rapid increase in Chinese conversion to Christianity. Since then, in addition to rural residents, many urbanites and intellectuals have also turned to Christianity. Indeed, a large number of the 1989 democracy movement activists, in China or exiled, imprisoned or free, have become Christian. What are their conversion stories? What are their religious and social experiences before and after conversion? Has Christian conversion led to a change in their social and political views and activism?

The relationship between Christianity and social activism in Chinese societies has been under studied. To rectify this problem, at the onset of the year marking the 30th anniversary of the 1989 democracy movement, we plan to hold a conference on February 24-26, 2019. We invite social scientists, scholars in humanities, and theologians to present research papers on this theme. Meanwhile, we invite social movement activists to present papers reflecting on their own conversions, faith, and social activism.

Based on submitted abstracts, we will select 20 participants to make presentations. Hotel expenses of the presenters will be covered. A limited number of travel funds is available to subsidize transportation costs for those who apply.

Deadline to submit abstracts: September 30, 2018. The abstract should be between 500 and 1,000 words. Please include a brief c.v. and a note about whether or not applying for a travel subsidy and if so, how much. We will notify the selected participants of acceptance and travel funds by October 31, 2018.

Deadline to submit draft full paper: January 31, 2019. The paper should be no less than 5,000 words, with proper footnotes and referenced bibliography. We plan to publish a volume of the edited papers.

Please submit your abstract, c.v., a note about travel subsidy, and full paper to Lily Szeto

Call for Papers: II International Conference on Bartolomé de Las Casas

July 15-16 (Monday-Tuesday), 2019

Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A.

The first International Conference, “Bartolomé de Las Casas, O.P.: History, Philosophy, and Theology in the Age of European Expansion,” held in 2016, was a landmark event for Lascasian scholarship. In response to this success, Providence College is pleased to invite interested scholars to our next gathering in 2019: “II International Conference on Bartolomé de Las Casas.”

Conference organizers welcome academic presentations related to the life, labor, and legacy of Bartolomé de Las Casas. We especially encourage proposals that employ Las Casas as a prism for the interpretation of the interaction, expansion, culture, and ancestry of Indigenous people, Africans, Europeans and Asians in the American Hemisphere. The organizers programmed this Lascasian conference to coincide with the III International Conference on the History of the Order of Preachers in America, to be held July 17-19th (Wednesday-Friday) at Providence College (Dominican conference link). Participants can benefit from and contribute to the rich combination of unique research interests afforded by these two international gatherings.

For the Las Casas’s Conference, organizers welcome scholarly reflection on the themes of contact, conquest, colonization, and conversion as found in theology, philosophy, law, literature, poetry, theater among other disciplinary approaches. Scholarly panels as well as special plenary sessions by leading scholars are planned. Organizers are planning the publication of a peer-reviewed volume based on revised and extended versions of conference papers.

Call for Papers:

Papers in Spanish, Portuguese, and English are welcomed. Interested scholars, whether presenting an individual paper or collaborating in a panel of three papers, must submit an abstract for each proposal (250-500 word, Microsoft Word, single-spaced, 12pt New Times), and the following:

Author(s): (maximum of three) including name(s), professional title(s), and affiliation;

  • Title of presentation, and relationship to Conference theme(s);
  • E-mail and mailing addresses;
  • Short biographical note (maximum 200 words).

1) Please email paper proposals before October 31st, 2018. Send your proposal(s) to both Rady Roldán-Figueroa, Th.D. and David Orique, O.P., Ph.D. More information and details to follow.

2) Approved proposals will be announced by email on December 15, 2018.

3) Conference oral presentations are limited to 20 minutes (approximate 8 double-spaced pages).

OMSC Program Seminars, Fall 2018

By driAugust 29th, 2018

Overseas Ministries Study Center: Engaging in Mission with the World Christian Movement since 1922

Sept. 11-12, 2018 Formation in our Mission Journey Mark Gornik & Team
Sept. 19-20, 2018 How to Develop Mission and Church Archives Martha Smalley & Christopher Anderson
Sept. 24-28, 2018 Culture, Values, and Worldview: Anthropology for Mission Practice Darrell Whiteman
Oct. 9-11, 2018 Christian Mission and Adivasi People in India Atola Longkumer
Oct. 16-17, 2018 US Churches Today Geoff Little
Oct. 23-26, 2018 Healing the Wounds of Trauma: Help for Ourselves and Others Harriet Hill & Wesley Neal
Nov. 6-9, 2018 Powers, Principalities, and the Spirit: Biblical Realism in Africa and the West Esther Acolatse
Nov. 14-15, 2018 Intercultural Theology Volker Küster
Nov. 27-30, 2018 A Connected History of Mission:  Complex People; Conjoined Places; Composite Projects Mrinalini and J. Jayakiran Sebastian
Dec. 11-14, 2018 OMSC Writing Workshop & Retreat: “To the Glory of God: Putting Your Story Into Words” Leslie Williams

Call for Papers: Christianity in India

Call for Papers for a Double-volume Special Issue of Nidān

The bi-annual, peer-reviewed and open access Journal “Nidān: International Journal for Indian Studies”, published from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban is pleased to announce a double-volume special issue on Christianity in India, to be published in July and December 2019 respectively. We elicit 8000 to 10,000 word-long original research articles on Christianity in India from scholars of different disciplinary backgrounds, using a variety of methodological approaches or a combination thereof, including anthropological, sociological, historical methods and literary analysis.

Christians constitute approximately 3% of India’s population and self-define their identity and devotional practices in a variety of cultural, vernacular and regionally specific ways. This is not only because Christians are historically dispersed across India and the Indian diaspora, but also because conversions were concentrated around diverse cantonment cities and towns during the colonial period in India, known for vernacular missionary activities. Asserting alternative cultural identities in accompaniment to Christianity such as caste-status and regional or vernacular belonging influenced Christian devotional practices and led to their representation within the public domain as a diverse and hybrid group.

In our present double-volume issue on Christianity in India, we elicit original research papers (between 8000 and 10,000 words) that focus on the emotions of the Christian self and conversion, Christian devotional and identity formation in India and the representation of Indian Christianity within the public domain from an anthropological or historical/ literary perspective. Contributors for the special issue would ideally introspect on questions such as caste and conversion, Indian Christianity within the diaspora, vernacular expressions of Christian devotion, regional identities formed through Christianity (such as in the case of Goa or the North-East) and the representation of Indian Christianity within the public domain (both anthropological and historical). I am also interested in academic introspection about Indian missions and Christianity that emerges from other missions across the world.

Those interested in contributing, please email an abstract of up to 500 words with author institutional details to Deepra Dandekar ( by August 15th, 2018. Once approved, original research articles (8000 – 10000 words) should be emailed to Deepra Dandekar by November 30th, 2018for the July 2019 volume. For the December 2019 volume, the deadline for article submission is April 30th, 2019.

Journal Editor: Professor P. Pratap Kumar
School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics
University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Durban

Guest editor for the special issue: Deepra Dandekar (Ph.D.)
Researcher, Center for the History of Emotions, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin.

The Global Young Peoples’ Convocation

By driJuly 30th, 2018in People, Students, World Christianity

Dominic Mejia and his legislative small group, composed of members from three different jurisdictions in the USA as well as the German and Philippine Central Conferences.

The Global Young Peoples’ Convocation of the United Methodist Church was held from July 18 to July 22 in Johannesburg, South Africa. This gathering sought to bring together youth, young adults, and those who work with youth from around the global United Methodist connection in order to develop relationships across geographic and language barriers, legislate and issue statements on issues important to young people, and navigate the significance and meaning of being a global church in a modern context. Dominic Mejia, a rising second-yearMDiv student at BU School of Theology, attended the event as a voting delegate with support from the Center for Global Christianity.

 The Global Young Peoples’ Convocation was a microcosm of the hopes, fears, frustrations, tensions, and possibilities found in the United Methodist Church as a whole. The theme phrase and the focus of many sermons and reflections, “United We Go,” captured these and placed them uncomfortably yet powerfully before those who were told repeatedly, “you are not the future of the church, you ARE the church!”

Of first importance is what it means to be “united.” We heard speakers who asked us to place what were referred to as our soapboxes to the side, coming to conversations without an agenda and to allow ourselves to be brought into unity found in the Holy Spirit. This understanding of unity must be pushed back upon. How do we lay aside that which makes us who we are? How can we as a church be satisfied with a cheap unity based not upon loving community but upon silence on that which is most important? Unity is found in the Holy Spirit, yes, but I doubt the Spirit is calling us towards stagnation and apathy. The unity statement passed by the legislative body calls for unity that challenges injustice while simultaneously moving us to be a global church and to hold the tensions and inconsistencies of doing so. Unity that does not hear the voice of less-powerful and minority voices is not true unity.

The active “go” found fertile ground in the Convocation. The body passed legislation that challenged extreme nationalism, called the church to account for being lax in combating sexism, sexual harassment, and gender-based discrimination, submitted suggested changes to the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church in order to protect refugees and undocumented persons, condemned arranged child marriages, emphasized the importance of local churches in ministering to young people, and issued the previously mentioned unity statement. This reflects a deep desire found among many of those gathered in Johannesburg – young people want to be a part of a church that has something to say about the social, political, and spiritual contexts people find themselves in. Young people worldwide desire to be part of a church that calls systems and people to do and be better, to care more deeply for people and creation and does not strip the transcendent God of God’s ability to be present in the particular lived realities.

The legislation passed by the Convocation will be submitted to the 2020 General Conference of the United Methodist Church. If the Convocation truly does represent more than the future of the church but the present reality of it then it is the responsibility of the General Conference to listen and respond to these uplifted voices of young people.