Below are a dozen or so of the published scholarly articles I’ve written over the years. I am no longer keeping this page current, however. Instead, I am posting published articles and some unpublished conference papers to academia.edu. Please visit me there!
“Apostle of Ethnology”: Agnes C. L. Donohugh’s Missiological Anthropology between the World Wars,” International Bulletin of Mission Research, 40(2) April 2016: 106-118.
Agnes C. L. Donohugh (1876-1966) taught at Hartford Theological Seminary’s Kennedy School of Missions between 1918 and 1944, the leading graduate program in mission studies in North America prior to World War II. The first missionary student of Franz Boas at Columbia University, Donohugh influenced the shape of graduate anthropological education for missionaries in America more than anyone else in the interwar period. The story of Agnes C. L. Donohugh provides a window into understanding how Anthropology was first used in mission education in America.
“What’s in a Word? Diakonia and Deacons in the Bible and Today.” Published online on the United Methodist Women website. 2015.
Drawing upon a revised interpretation of diakon– terms in the New Testament provided by John N. Collins, this article examines how the stories of the choosing of the seven (Acts 6: 1-7), Stephen’s speech (Acts 6:8 – 7:56), and the evangelistic ministry of Phillip (Acts 8: 4-40) together provide a fresh impetus for understanding expressions of the United Methodist diaconate today. It is suggested that these stories offer fertile ground for crafting a “rule” for the United Methodist diaconate as a missionary Order. On a more personal note, it so happened that I was invited to write this article on the diaconate in 2014, the tenth anniversary of my ordination as a deacon in the West Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church. I hope my thinking along these lines will help other deacons to more faithfully understand and live out their calling.
“Philadelphia Methodism Walking Tour.” Published on www.philawalk.org in collaboration with St. George’s United Methodist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 2015
Methodist history has never just happened in church buildings. With this tour you can explore Methodism on the streets! This walking tour of 18th and 19th century Methodism in Philadelphia tells the story of Methodism at 22 different stops which stretch over 12 blocks between St. George’s United Methodist Church near the Ben Franklin Bridge to Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. See www.philawalk.org for an online version of this. The walking tour script can be downloaded here or on philawalk.org.
Co-author with Glen Alton Messer II. “Remembering our Ecumenical Heritage.” In Celebrating God’s Love: Living into Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships, ed. Donald E. Messer. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015.
Co-author with Eloise Meneses, Lindy Backues, David Bronkema, and Eric Flett, “Engaging the Religiously Committed Other: Anthropologists and Theologians in Dialogue,” Current Anthropology 55 no. 1 (February 2014): 82-89.
Abstract: Anthropology has two tasks: the scientific task of studying human beings and the instrumental task of promoting human flourishing. To date, the scientific task has been constrained by secularism, and the instrumental task by the philosophy and values of liberalism. These constraints have caused religiously based scholarship to be excluded from anthropology’s discourse, to the detriment of both tasks. The call for papers for the 2009 meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) recognized the need to “push the field’s epistemological and presentational conventions” in order to reach anthropology’s various publics. Religious thought has much to say about the human condition. It can expand the discourse in ways that provide explanatory value as well as moral purpose and hope. We propose an epistemology of witness for dialogue between anthropologists and theologians, and we demonstrate the value added with an example: the problem of violence.
“‘For the Relief of Human Suffering’: The Methodist Committee for Overseas Relief in the Context of Cold War Initiatives in Development, 1940-1968,” Methodist Review 6 (2014): 27-68.
The Methodist Committee for Overseas Relief (MCOR) was one of the first and largest denominational relief and development agencies in the nation from 1940 to 1968. Its ecumenical engagement was robust from the start; it was one of the largest donors to United China Relief, Church World Service, and other ecumenical overseas relief organizations during this time. This article provides a decade by decade assessment of MCOR’s work with particular attention to (1) its ecumenical engagement in relief and development efforts; (2) the relationship of MCOR’s work to the wider context of overseas relief and development efforts by nongovernmental, bilateral, and multilateral agencies; (3) the stated theological justification of MCOR’s work as it related to the wider mission of the church and specifically the Methodist Board of Missions and Church Extension. The article concludes with reflections on the implications of this study for the future work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
“’That they All May be One’: John R. Mott’s Contribution to Methodism, Inter-religious Dialogue, and Racial Reconciliation,” Methodist Review 4 (2012): 1-30.
An extraordinary organizer and leader, Methodist layman John R. Mott (1865–1955) was influential in the establishment and growth of many differ- ent world-wide Christian organizations in the early twentieth century. He was even asked to serve as ambassador to China by President Woodrow Wilson—a position he declined. For his work in organizing people and resources for world peace Mott was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946. This article focuses on Mott’s efforts at ecumenism for the sake of Christian mission by analyzing three dimensions of Mott’s work: Mott’s Methodism, his efforts in global inter- religious dialogue, and work in racial reconciliation efforts at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. His work in relation to these three themes is traced throughout his life in order to highlight the devel- opment of his ideas and activism as he interacted with many different ecumeni- cal organizations and world Christian leaders. The article illustrates the tensions and inconsistencies that emerged in Mott’s thinking and ecumenical practice as he sought to emphasize unity for the sake of mission in the many different facets of his work.
“Missiological Imagination as a Pedagogical Tool: 18th Century African and Asian pioneer evangelists in conversation,” Missiology: An International Journal, April, 2011
This article provides an example of how mission history may be utilized in imaginative ways to promote student reflection about missiology. The article first presents biographical portraits of three Christian leaders from Africa and Asia in the late eighteenth century with respect to three missiological themes (migration, empire, and theology of evangelism). The second section of the essay is a fictitious and imaginative conversation amongst the three historical characters and myself as author, where questions are posed around these same themes. The article concludes with pedagogical reflections on the use of a similar exercise with students.
“The ‘Five Points’ of Philadelphia: Evangelism and Social Reform at the Bedford Street Mission, 1850-1900,” Methodist History 48, no. 1 October (2009): 10-22. Originally printed in Annals of Eastern Pennsylvania 6, (2009): 3-23.
New York City’s “Five Points” neighborhood in lower Manhattan was well-known in the mid-to-late nineteenth century as a major locus of concern related to the problems of burgeoning American cities. Philadelphia had a similar slum district which eventually adopted the New York neighborhood’s moniker – at least for fundraising purposes among Methodists and other Protestants. This article provides a sketch of the nineteenth century history of the Bedford Street Mission and the urban and ecclesial context out of which it was born as a Methodist mission outpost in 1853 and flourished until the 1930s. After a brief historiographical overview of Christian philanthropic endeavors in Philadelphia in the colonial and antebellum periods this article analyzes the important allies, obstacles, ideas, and motives which animated the work of the Bedford Street Mission for nearly a hundred years.
“Connected and Sent Out: Implications of New Biblical Research for the United Methodist Diaconate,” Quarterly Review 24, no. 4 Winter (2004-2005): 367-380.
Based on the linguistic research by John N. Collins concerning the biblical meaning of diakonia and its cognates, this article investigates what the ecclesiological and vocational implications might be for United Methodist deacons.
“Salvation and Sociology in the Methodist Episcopal Deaconess Movement” Methodist History 40 no. 3 April (2002): 182-197.
This is a study of the New England Deaconess Association from its founding in the late 1880s to about 1914. It addresses the curriculum of the deaconesses’ training school in Boston, the nature of their work, and the intra-ecclesial debates this new form of women’s ministry prompted.
“Deacons as Emissary-Servants: A Liturgical Theology,” Quarterly Review 19, no. 4 Winter (1999-2000): 372-386.
When the new Order of Deacon was created in the United Methodist Church in 1996 there had been little theological reflection on the role of deacons in United Methodist services of worship and even less practice of deacons fulfilling their historic role in the church’s liturgy. This article seeks to provide guidance for further reflection along these lines.
“An Empirical Look at the Ecumenical Diaconate in the United States,” Monograph Series #16, (Providence, Rhode Island: North American Association for the Diaconate, 2003.)
This article is a descriptive survey of the diaconate in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the Protestant Episcopal Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the United Methodist Church. Although now over a decade old, it nonetheless provides a portrait of how deacons and deaconesses in these denominations understood themselves and their vocations.