Posted by: Titus Presler | November 10, 2015

Todd Johnson to address Migration and Mission in Presler Mission Lecture at Louisville Seminary

Todd Johnson, a leading demographer of Christianity and world religions at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, will address the theme of “Christians on the Move: Migration, Mission and Community-Building” in the 10th annual Henry H. and Marion A. Presler Lecture on World Mission at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, this Thursday, Nov. 12.

The theme is relevant to longstanding migration patterns from Central and South America to the United States, increasing migration among virtually all parts of the world, and the current migration crisis that features 60 million displaced people worldwide and waves of migrants from the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa seeking to settle in Europe.  The theme is also relevant to “God’s Mission with a World in Motion,” the theme of the May 2016 mission conference in Puerto Rico of the Global Episcopal Mission Network, which Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will keynote.

The title of Johnson’s talk is “Our Global Opportunity: Embracing Common Identity with Christians and Humanity to Change the World.”  Johnson directs the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell.  With the late David Barrett he edited the 2001 2nd edition of the magisterial World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford) and also co-edited the equally important Atlas of Global Christianity, published by Edinburgh in 2010 to coincide with the centennial of the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh.

In 2014 the Center for World Christianity celebrated its 50th anniversary, tracing its background to the beginning of David Barrett’s demographic work as a missionary of the Church Mission Society in Kenya and the later moving of that work to Richmond, Virginia.

The Presler Lectureship on World Mission was established in 2006 by a bequest from Henry and Marion Presler, lifelong United Methodist missionaries in India, where their work focused on theological education and research into Indian religions at Leonard Theological College in Jabalpur.  They went to India in 1937 and retired in 1972 to their home in Fargo, North Dakota.  Henry died in 1998, Marion in 2005.

For some years Louisville Seminary has scheduled the annual Presler World Mission Lecture in tandem with the Edwards Peacemaking Lecture, which honors the late George Edwards, who taught New Testament at Louisville for 27 years, and his wife Jean.  The seminary now promotes the two together as the Edwards-Presler Lectures on Peace, Justice and Mission.  This year’s Edwards Lecture, also on Nov. 12, is to be delivered by Angela Cowser of Garrett Evangelical Seminary on the topic “Whither Public Justice or Private Charity? Power or Empowerment?  The Implications of Your Answers.”

The Presler World Mission Lecture will occur at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 12 in Caldwell Chapel.  The Edwards Peacemaking Lecture will occur at 7 p.m. in Schlegel Hall, Room 122.

It is gratifying to see how the Presler Lecture continues to honor my parents, and this year, as in some others, I will be present, along with two of my four siblings.

Louisville Seminary elaborates this year’s theme as follows: “The theme for the 2015 Edwards-Presler lectures is Christians on the Move: Migration, Mission and Community Building and will seek to help attendees comprehend the impact on North American churches as Christian immigrants constitute an ever larger percentage of our churches and communities. This will be a great opportunity to reflect on how Christians and churches should respond to the changing demographics. How do we build new, radically inclusive, multicultural communities of faith – ones that display diversity not only in worship and liturgy, but also in administration, finances and spiritual and social outreach?”



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