Center for the Study of World Christian Revitalization Movements
The Center for the Study of World Christian Revitalization Movements has the goal of stimulating research and teaching in contemporary Christian revitalization across diverse cultures and ecclesial communities. We are a cooperative initiative representing diverse ecclesial traditions. Our mission is to launch a serious probe into the relationship between Christian revival and revitalization of faith communities and the larger cultures in which they are housed, drawing on our strengths in Wesleyan theology, world mission, pastoral theology and a practical congregationally driven approach. We have a developed delivery system through our Scarecrow Press and Emeth Press Series, in our biannual Revitalization newsletter and press releases. You are invited to participate in our online forums and our consultations that are coming to Asbury Seminary and other renewal centers.
The Center for the Study of World Christian Revitalization Movements was established at Asbury Seminary in 1991 (originally as the Wesleyan Holiness Studies Center) and purposed to “contribute to the vitality of Christian mission and local congregations by synthesizing learnings from past and present revitalization movements worldwide.” The Center’s approach is interdisciplinary, combining biblical studies, theology, history, anthropology and sociology.
The Center for the Study of World Christian Revitalization Movements has received a $350,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for a four-year research project (2012-2015) called Emerging World Christian Identities: Transformation in the Urbanized and Globalized Context. The project will explore the revitalization of the church in urban cultural contexts in the non-Western world, including Africa, India, Asia and Latin America.
This project builds upon the findings of the Center’s first international project, Revival and Revitalization: Exploring the Cultural Dynamics of Religious Awakenings, also funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. The work of Revival and Revitalization (2008-2011), while global in scope, was centered in North America and Europe. The Global South and East and the importance of ordinary Christians and unordained leaders emerged as key themes worthy of deeper exploration. In response, the new project explores church revitalization movements in four urban areas, including Nairobi, Kenya, Dehra Dun, Uttararkhand, India, Singapore and Buenos Aires or an alternate Latin American city. These cities not only reflect the diversity and spiritual depth of global Christianity, but were strategically selected to coincide with Asbury Seminary’s developing mission initiatives and global partnerships under the leadership of President Dr. Timothy C. Tennent.
Four international consultations will bring 65 representatives from diverse fields and backgrounds to the urban sites to learn from local scholars, practitioners and laity and will culminate in local public events to report the findings. The findings of each consultation and how the findings will impact the shape of theological education around the world will be published in a comprehensive narrative and include the writings and perspectives of a wide variety of project participants. The project is conceived as more than just a series of academic publications. It is intentionally designed to develop lasting collaborations between academic institutions, churches, scholars and practitioners.
Dr. J. Steven O’Malley, Director of the Center for the Study of World Christian Revitalization Movements, said, “In a day when aspirations for human freedom are being loosed in multiple locations across the globe, we sense that it is vital to discern how and where God is at work in manifesting revitalization. We also find it appropriate to be linked to a Seminary built upon John Wesley’s primal vision for the world as our parish, and one that is now building upona trajectory of significant global involvement in that ongoing mission for the past century.”