World Christianity is a discourse about Christianity as a worldwide reality. It is not merely about the growing numbers of the faithful ‘out there’, juxtaposed against the falling numbers in the West. Part of the demographic changes of Christianity include the migration of peoples from the majority world to my world, next door. In a recent Ph.D. thesis on Christianity in Glasgow, where 126 Church of Scotland churches operate within the presbytery, 110 new churches were established between 2000 and 2016; of those new churches, 65 per cent primarily work with minority populations of African or Asian origins. Scholars may be quick to discuss the implications of the secularisation thesis or the so-called post-secular. But for those Christian communities on the ground, they may be more readily concerned with addressing practical needs related to migration, ‘integration’ into the dominant society, and negotiation of identities. From the first century until today, Christians have been a people on the move. However, another part of the picture is that changes in a given locale often happen irrespective of the Christians who have come or gone. As the four main articles in this issue of Studies in World Christianity demonstrate, such migratory and demographic patterns demonstrate how societies are rarely homogenous, but, in actuality, quite pluralistic.
Dr Retief Müller of the University of Stellenbosch
Along with other students, I look forward to the Centre’s weekly research seminars. Each week brings scholars from all over the world. The 7 November seminar brought Dr Retief Müller of the University of Stellenbosch who presented a paper entitled ‘Negotiating (with) the Other: Afrikaners, Scots, and the Formation of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) [Nkhoma Synod]’. In it, Müller examined the role played by missionaries from South Africa’s Dutch Reformed Church in creating the CCAP out of disparate missions, largely of Scottish origin. His presentation was especially interesting to me because my own doctoral thesis also examines aspects of the interactions between Scotland, South Africa, and Nyasaland (present-day Malawi), as well as Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). Continue reading →
Gender and Family in the History of Christian Missions
This issue of Studies in World Christianity is devoted to five papers selected from a total of nearly sixty presented at the twenty-fourth meeting of the Yale–Edinburgh Group on the history of missions and world Christianity, held at New College, Edinburgh, from 24 to 26 June 2014. The theme of the conference was ‘Gender and Family in the History of Missions and World Christianity’. The popularity of the theme can be deduced from the record number both of participants in the conference (almost one hundred) and of papers presented. Gender and family are hot topics in contemporary historical research into Christian missions (as they are more generally in social history), and it is perhaps surprising that the Yale–Edinburgh Group has never tackled the theme before in any of its meetings since its inception in 1992. As may be predicted, the vast majority of the papers given were about women or children, with only a sprinkling devoted to the role of men or questions of Christian masculinity: the default setting for historical research remains obstinately male in its orientation, with the result that any meeting advertised under the theme of gender is normally assumed to be an intended corrective to the default setting and hence to be primarily or even exclusively about the role of women. Continue reading →