Yale-Edinburgh Group
on the History of the Missionary Movement
and World Christianity

Consultations sponsored by the Centre for the Study of World Christianity at the University of Edinburgh, Yale Divinity School, and the Overseas Ministries Study Center

Theme for the 2019 Yale-Edinburgh Group Meeting

Diversity and Difference in Custom, Belief, and Practice in the History of Missions and World Christianity

The next meeting of the Yale-Edinburgh Group on the History of Missions and World Christianity will take place at Yale Divinity School on June 27-29, 2019. The theme of the meeting will be Diversity and Difference in Custom, Belief, and Practice in the History of Missions and World Christianity.

That World Christianity is diverse, goes without saying; and any serious study of the missionary movement from the West, inseparable from the history of World Christianity, reveals not only diversity, but evident, often deeply held and sometimes strongly asserted difference. Sometimes the causes of difference lie in the Christian histories of Europe or America; transported to Africa or Asia, the distinctions, even if losing their original significance, remained sources of organizational division within African or Asian churches. Within missions, differences of age or of social or educational background have sometimes had quite as much influence on events as has theological divergence; and the same has been the case with differences arising from ethnic or cultural factors in churches. In both missions and churches movements seen by some as bringing renewal and revival have been seen by others as vehicles of disruption and confusion.

In both missions and churches, too, policies and priorities have changed over time, sometimes in response to movements of religious activity or theological reflection, sometimes independently of either. Some tensions are built into the nature of Christian mission: the call to daring faith and self-sacrifice goes out along with the call to devout prudence and responsible use of scarce resources, and some hear one sound while others hear the other. And there have always been maximalists and minimalists in mission: those whose vision embraces all creation and all human society, and those whose vision is unwaveringly concentrated on one thing needful. Both forms of vision have had an impact on World Christianity.

The degree of diversity in the interests, specialist knowledge, and perspectives of our members promises a rich and revealing time together as we pursue this theme, and studies are set before us of diversity and difference - whether in the same location at the same time, the same location at different times, or in different locations.


Andrew Walls, Lamin Sanneh, and Brian Stanley, October, 2018

For more information contact: Christopher Anderson, Yale-Edinburgh Group coordinator: Yale Divinity Library, 409 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511 --- Phone: 203 432-5289 --- Email: christopher.j.anderson@yale.edu