Alumni Around the World
Year by year, advanced graduate students pass through the School of Theology and the Center for Global Christianity, then go out into the world to teach and do what they have been studying. As they move, the CGCM community grows in engagement through them. They are such a diverse group of people that no one description could possibly do the entire body justice. Instead, news and updates will be regularly provided. Cumulatively, their activities will create a portrait of the CGCM alumni community.
In December 2018, Rev. Dr. Casely Essamuah (’03), the Secretary of the Global Christian Forum, had an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican. One of the books that Essamuah is handing the Holy Father is a copy of his dissertation, Genuinely Ghanaian: A History of the Methodist Church, 1961-2000.
At the Global Christian Forum’s third Global Gathering, Christians were called to peace, unity, and costly discipleship. The meetings were held in Bogota, Columbia, and three graduates who were part of the CGCM were speakers at the event (Essamuah, Zurlo, Padilla DeBorst). A full report is available in the WCF’s newsletter.
In 1958 a group of congregations in southeastern Nigeria solicited affiliation with the North American Mennonite Board of Missions (MBM), declared themselves Mennonite, and sought missionaries and assistance. MBM responded by sending missionaries and by providing assistance to Mennonite Church Nigeria (MCN) and others in the region. The collaboration between MCN and MBM developed during a period when partnership was becoming a primary paradigm in the Protestant missionary movement as well as in the Anabaptist tradition.
In his recent article, R. Bruce Yoder (’16) highlights five themes in the missiological discourse about partnership during the last half of the twentieth century and uses those themes to explicate aspects of the engagement between MCN and MBM during the same period. The themes are (1) collaboration, (2) context, (3) reconfiguration of mission structures, (4) bilateral and multilateral approaches, and (5) ambiguity. The first section examines partnership in the Protestant mission movement. The second shows that these themes also arise in Anabaptist mission discourse. The third section presents the case of Mennonite Church Nigeria and Mennonite Board of Missions, showing the partnership paradigm to be a compelling missionary vision while clarifying challenges that may require consideration of additional mission models.
Daewon Moon (PhD ’18) and Joenghwa Park spent an afternoon at Boston University, describing their work in holistic mission in Burundi. Together they showcased how churches, schools, and global connections interact to create a healthy and vibrant community.
Soojin Chung successfully defended her dissertation on “The Role of Missionaries in the Inception of Transnational Adoption, 1949-1960.”
Friendship was the theme of this year’s meeting of the American Society of Missiology. Boston University was well-represented at the conference. Twelve alumni gave papers, Amos Yong was a keynote speaker, and Anicka Fast won the award for the best paper by a graduate student.
The United Methodist Racial/Ethnic History Research Grant was awarded to Dr. Ben Hartley, Associate Professor of Christian Mission, College of Christian Studies, George Fox University in Newberg, OR, for his project entitled “Re-Assessing Methodist—Native American Encounters in the Oregon Territory, 1834-1844.”
“It is with heartfelt gratitude that I receive this Racial/Ethnic History Grant from the General Commission on Archives and History,” said Hartley. “In recent years the UMC has had a number of services of worship at Annual Conference and General Conference gatherings to express corporate repentance and a desire for reconciliation between The United Methodist Church and Native Americans in North America. These need to be followed up with many other efforts if the work of reconciliation is to continue. I am absolutely convinced that to grow in one’s respect for Native American peoples one must grow in love for their history and the history that is shared among United Methodists and native peoples. I receive this research grant as a loving encouragement from United Methodist people to do so in my still-new home in the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. I pray that my research will inspire others to learn the stories of Native American peoples wherever they may live. Thank you!”
The United Methodist Church is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding, which occurred with the 1968 merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren. Much of the celebration has been focused on the merger as an ecumenical achievement and a step forward in racial equality with the end of the segregated Central Jurisdiction of the Methodist Church. This union also had significant implications for mission. Among these were effects on the global structure of the new denomination, increased attention to issues around racial justice, and new organizations that were formed for mission work, including the creation of United Methodist Women. In a recent article, David Scott (’13) explores the history and changes effected in Methodist missions by the creation of the United Methodist Church.
What difference does another conference on Christian unity have on the way congregations actually relate to one another? Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, urged those gathered at the third Global Christian Forum in Bogata, Columbia to work out the consequences of what they had discovered together. Among others who shaped the experience, and raised the important questions at the meeting, were three Boston University alumni affiliated with the Center for Global Christianity and Mission: Casely Essamuah (’03), Ruth Padilla DeBorst (’16), and Gina Zurlo (’17). In combination with others, they are trying to understand how Global Christianity and Christian unity are held together. For a description of the meeting, Wes Granberg-Michaelson submitted an article describing “An Open Window On a Mutilated Body” in Sojourners magazine.
At the third gathering of the Global Christian Forum, Rev. Dr. Casely Essamuah (’03) was installed at the new Secretary. Surrounded by delegates from 64 nations and represented twenty two different Christian traditions, Essamuah was charged to lead the ecumenical organization that facilitates interaction among Christians globally.