Recap of Yale-Edinburgh 2018

Calida Chu is a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity. Her research focuses on public theology in Hong Kong.

This year’s meeting of the Yale-Edinburgh Group (28–30 June 2018) was welcomed to Scotland with unusually warm weather. While we had the rare occasion to grumble that the Scottish weather was too warm for us, the three-day conference continued in a warm and friendly atmosphere. On the first day of the conference, some of our delegates attended the launch of our current director of the Centre for the Study of World Christianity Professor Brian Stanley’s new book, Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History, which he dedicated to Andrew F. Walls, the founder of the CSWC. Dr Emma Wild-Wood, who joined the CSWC in January, then delivered the opening lecture on the social meaning of baptism in Uganda between 1890 and 1910.

As a former music minister, I have been looking forward to the conference because the main theme is ‘Scripture, Prayer and Worship’. The topics covered were very diverse, ranging from the worship of the deaf community in urban China to the images of Saints in the Palestinian context to the doxology of East African songs. Among the 58 papers delivered, I had the privilege to present my research on William Newbern (1900–1972), the C&MA missionary in South China, and his influential hymnal Youth Hymns.

While we had a scholarly feast in these three days, our heart also filled with joy in the celebration of Andrew Walls’s 90th birthday. The surprise party on Friday evening started with several tributes of Walls’s former students and colleagues, who all highly affirmed his character as a scholar, a mentor, and a good friend. A packed house in Martin Hall sang happy birthday to Professor Walls, followed by a ceilidh (traditional Scottish dance) in Rainy Hall.

My first year at the Yale-Edinburgh Group meeting has been a very fruitful experience. I enjoyed learning more about worship and liturgy in other contexts of the world and was reminded of the diverse expressions of Christian faith. As Lamin Sanneh, the co-founder of the Yale-Edinburgh Group, indicated in the final session of the conference, Christianity is not owned by anyone; rather, it is about God’s work. Perhaps this is something we scholars in world Christianity can continuously reflect on, wherever our workplace is and in whatever context we work.

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