6. Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide: Silver Jubilee
by Graham Kings
Date added: 20/03/2021
Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide: Silver Jubilee
By Graham Kings
Ponderings No 6 March 2021 (republished with permission from Covenant: The Living Church).
2021 is the Silver Jubilee of the official opening of the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide (CCCW) at Westminster College, Cambridge, which took place on January 22, 1996. The Centre was then known as the Henry Martyn Library for mission studies and world Christianity. These 25 years have seen extraordinary growth.
The doyen of 20th-century scholars of Christian-Muslim relations, Bishop Kenneth Cragg, performed the cutting of the ribbon, and Bishop Lesslie Newbigin, and Guli Francis-Dehqani were present, with many members of the Faculty of Divinity and of the Cambridge Theological Federation. My opening lecture was entitled, “Foundations for Mission and the Study of World Christianity: The Legacy of Henry Martyn, BD.”
The Silver Jubilee is being celebrated in five ways: the launch of “Friends of the Centre”; the launch of a Lambeth Conference preparatory book on prayer and religious life; a series of five lectures throughout the year on “Transfiguring World Christianity”; a history of the Centre and of the Henry Martyn Trust, which supports it; and a commemorative volume, edited by the Rev. Dr. Muthuraj Swamy, director, and Dr. Jenny Leith, dean of studies.
- Friends of the Cambridge Centre for World Christianity
On January 26, 2021, the Friends of the Centre was launched during a webinar, with 60 guests from around the world. Dr. Sarah Snyder, founding director of Rose Castle Foundation and chair of the Henry Martyn Trust, welcomed participants. As chair of the Friends, I then interviewed all the directors of the Centre since I left to become the vicar of Islington in 2000, and also some colleagues.
Professor Kirtseen Kim, Paul E. Pierson Chair in World Christianity at Fuller Theological Seminary, California, served as our first administrator of the Centre from 1998-2002, setting up the website, while completing her Birmingham Ph.D. by extension and bringing up a lively family. She mentioned the initiative of the Centre to bring the library and archives of the SPCK (founded in 1698) from London to Cambridge University Library. This was celebrated in 1998 with a lecture by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, “Martyn and Martyrs: Questions for Mission.” The change of the name, from Library to Centre, also took place that year, as it became an Associate Institute of the Cambridge Theological Federation.
Professor Sebastian Kim, Robert Wiley Chair of Renewal in Public Life and academic dean of the Korean Studies Center at Fuller Theological Seminary, was interim director of the Centre from 2000 to 2001, following his Ph.D. supervised by Brian Stanley. He spoke of the Christianity in Asia project, of which he was later a director in the Faculty of Divinity, and editor of the project book, Christian Theology in Asia.
Professor Brian Stanley, professor in World Christianity at the University of Edinburgh, was director of the Centre from 2001 to 2009. Previously he had directed the North Atlantic Missiology Project (later renamed the Currents in World Christianity project) from 1996 to 2001, initiated by the Centre and based in the Faculty of Divinity. Eventually this produced 24 volumes, which he co-edited, in the Eerdmans series Studies in the History of Christian Missions. He arranged for the archives of Joe Church to be lodged at the Centre and convened a conference on those archives. The book was edited by Kevin Ward and Emma Wild-Wood, The East African Revival: History and Legacies.
Brian spoke of the significance of the biennial Henry Martyn Lectures and the pioneering role played by the Centre in offering a space for practitioners and scholars to reflect together in the annual conferences he had chaired, “Wisdom in Mission”:
The Centre is a place for exchange of ideas, for challenge, for reflection. It brings together academics and those who are practitioners – two aspects of the world Church which are so often separated.
Dr. Emma Wild-Wood, senior lecturer in African Christianity and African Indigenous Religions at the University of Edinburgh, served as Director from 2009 to 2015. She coordinated the 2012 events of the bicentenary of the death of Henry Martyn, the move of the Centre, in 2014, from the library of Westminster College to its purpose-built location in the Principal’s Lodge, and the change of name from Henry Martyn Centre. Last year she co-edited the festschrift of Brian Stanley, Ecumenism and Independency in World Christianity.
She reflected on the unique character of the Centre’s archives:
For historians, these archives are absolutely superb: they give us those private papers, insights, and glimpses that we don’t always get in big institutional archives.
The Rev. Dr. Jesse Zink, principal of Montreal Diocesan Theological College, was director of the Centre from 2015 to 2017, after Emma was seconded to the Faculty of Divinity for that period. His book, Christianity and Catastrophe in South Sudan, based on his Cambridge Ph.D. dissertation, won an African Studies prize. He oversaw the redesign of the website and the increasing use of social media. In particular he spoke of the space the Centre provides for conversation and for offering hospitality to visiting scholars.
The Rev. Dr. Lydia Mwaniki, director for Gender, Women and Youth in the All Africa Conference of Churches, gave a seminar paper in 2016 and spoke about the significance of these seminars, jointly organized by the Centre and the Faculty of Divinity:
What a special gift the CCCW is to God’s world. You provide a fount of knowledge, a symbol of unity across cultures, and a focus for integrated mission.
Dr. Jörg Haustein, lecturer in World Christianities in the Faculty of Divinity, underlined the value of the connection between the Centre and the University of Cambridge, through the shared seminar series and the Henry Martyn Lectures in particular:
The Centre is of eminent importance for the subject of World Christianities in the Faculty of Divinity and its library is an essential asset to our students. Dr Muthuraj Swamy makes valuable contributions to Faculty lectures.
Dr. Muthuraj Swamy, director since 2018, and prolific author, including Reconciliation: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2019, concluded the webinar by outlining his future plans for the Centre, which include the following events.
- Book Launch: Listening Together
On February 22, 2021, during a Centre webinar which included Dr. David Walker, the bishop of Manchester, Dr. Swamy launched the book he co-edited with Canon Dr. Stephen Spencer, director for Theological Education in the Anglican Communion, Listening Together: Global Anglican Perspectives on the Renewal of Prayer and Religious Life.
This is the third and final book in the series “Preparing for the Lambeth Conference,” the fruit of the Mission Theology in the Anglican Communion project (renamed in 2018 Theological Education for Mission in the Anglican Communion project, of which Dr. Swamy is the manager). The book publishes the papers presented at the conference at St Paul’s University, Limuru, Kenya, in May 2019, hosted by Canon Professor Joseph Galgalo, the vice chancellor, which the Archbishop of Canterbury attended.
- Silver Jubilee Lecture Series: Transfiguring World Christianity
Five lectures will be given throughout the year, and will be published later in a volume entitled Transfiguring World Christianity. They will cover the following topics: Engagement in societies; Ecumenism; Reconciliation; Solidarity in the midst of the Pandemic; and Science.
- History of the CCCW: Henry Martyn’s Global Legacy
Dr. Ian Randall, research associate at the Centre and church historian, has written this history of the Centre and the Trust, together with chapters by Dr. Swamy and myself. It will be published online in April 2021. Dr. Sarah Snyder has written the Foreword.
The first chapter is a revision of my 2012 bicentenary lecture, “Henry Martyn: Missionary Scholar for our Age?” given in the Faculty of Divinity. The following five chapters describe: the founding of the Henry Martyn Trust in 1881 to encourage missionary vocations; the building of the Hall, next to Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge, in 1887; the founding of the Library underneath the Hall in 1898; the beginning of the biennial Henry Martyn Lectures in the Faculty of Divinity in 1986; the appointment of a Lecturer in Mission Studies in the Cambridge Theological Federation in 1992; the founding of the Centre in 1996 at Westminster College; and the move to the Principal’s Lodge at Westminster College in 2014.
In the concluding chapter, Dr. Swamy looks to the future of the Centre and its continuing interweaving of research and teaching with the Intercultural Encounter Programme, which supports students, and others in Cambridge, in experiencing diverse Christian cultures across the globe.
- Connecting Christianities: World Christianity and Mission in the 21st Century
Dr. Swamy and Dr. Leith are editing a commemorative volume of 25 essays entitled, Connecting Christianities: World Christianity and Mission in the 21st Century. These are being written by an international group of established and emerging scholars from the global South and global North.
After an introductory chapter, there will be eight chapters in each of the three parts: Christians connected in ecumenical mission; Peace and reconciliation as Christian mission; and Christian mission and public engagement.
It has been a joy to see the Centre growing in scholarly influence, in Cambridge and worldwide, through the books published by successive directors, the innovative projects, the astonishing depth of library and archival resources, and the energising of young people exploring vocations overseas. Thanks be to God.
The Rt. Revd. Dr. Graham Kings is honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of Ely and research associate at the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide.