“For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring,—heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26–29)
Mission studies is concerned with academic reflection on the missionary practice of the Church and on the future of its missionary calling. As such, it utilizes an interdisciplinary approach that includes theological disciplines, the humanities, the social sciences and other academic fields. Religion—the Christian religion included—is often perceived as contributing to conflicts of identity, sometimes resulting in violent encounters. At the same time, the Christian faith finds its fundamental identity in a gospel of reconciliation.
What is the relationship between the different, even conflicting, human identities and the gospel of reconciliation? Is there a human identity that supersedes all specific identities—national, religious, gender, and/or economic, etc.? How can apparently conflicting identities be reconciled? How can one achieve a wholesome self-identity that includes the possibility of change and transformative mobility? And what is the role of reconciliation as offered by the gospel to the Christian community and by the Christian community?
The twelfth assembly of the International Association for Mission Studies (IAMS) will bring together scholars of different disciplines who will share their research and their evaluation with respect to such questions. It will be held 16-23 August 2008 in Budapest, Hungary. The topic will be “Human Identity and the Gospel of Reconciliation: Agenda for Mission Studies and Praxis in the 21st Century.”
It is hoped that a fruitful cross-fertilization can be realized that might stimulate further missiological research and set an agenda for future studies and ongoing praxis. It is also hoped that churches and other religious institutions might gain fresh insights from this assembly for their day-to-day work in a world where conflicting identities seem to subvert reconciliation efforts.
The goal of the Budapest assembly will be to identify and explore ethnic, gender, political and religious dimensions of human identity as challenge, opportunity and obligation for Christian churches in mission, from the vantage point of scholars whose academic disciplines intersect with mission studies. Papers from across a range of intersecting or related themes—such as ethnicity, race, gender, violence, poverty, nationalism, religion, ecclesiastical tradition, inner renewal, etc.—will be welcomed.
Since the assembly will be convening in Budapest, special attention will be given to issues of identity, reconciliation and the Church’s mission in Central and Eastern Europe.
The proposed topic, with 150–300 word abstract, is due by 30 August 2007.
Papers are due by 1 April 2008.
Guidelines for writing paper: Papers are not to exceed six thousand words, including notes. Writers will be expected to strictly adhere to Mission Studies writing and documentation standards as outlined on the website at www.missionstudies.org/6publ/Mission_studies/style.htm.
Process governing acceptance of paper: All proposals with abstracts will be carefully reviewed by the IAMS executive committee, and writers will be notified of the committee’s decision no later than June 2008. The executive committee will finalize the Budapest program at their 2008 January meeting.