This is the first issue of IAMS Matters, the official newsletter of the International Association for Mission Studies.
We hope you benefit from its contents and links.

Number 1, September-October 2011


International Association for Mission Studies News

An international, interconfessional and interdisciplinary professional society
for the scholarly study of Christian witness and its impact in the world
and the related field of intercultural theology.

From the IAMS President

Dear IAMS Member:

I am pleased to introduce this inaugural issue of IAMS MATTERS. As a bimonthly newsletter, it will enable us to keep in touch with each other, fostering and nurturing our sense of "we." You can expect a version of this letter to arrive in your email box every two months. It is intended to: (1) keep all of us current on the activities and plans of our eight study groups, (2) apprise us on Mission Studies editorial and production issues, and (3) provide updates and pertinent information on the Toronto 2012 Assembly.Jon Bonk Photo Cathy Ross will keep all of us informed from the crow's nest of the Secretariat. Financial updates will be provided by our Treasurer, David Singh, and I will provide updates on our efforts to raise support for the Toronto 2012 Assembly. Four important IAMS Links will take you directly to our website: "to become a member of IAMS," "To pay your membership dues," "To update your IAMS membership info," and "To make a financial contribution to IAMS." We will also include the latest version of the IAMS Constitution and Bylaws, so that members can be familiar with the rules governing the organization and the general business meeting at which we will elect a new executive to carry on the work of the organization from 2012 through 2016.

Mariel Deluca Voth suggested the title because, she pointed out, "matters" is either a verb or a noun! We hope you like it. But more importantly, we hope that it will be a way of reminding ourselves that we are a truly unique scholarly association. IAMS matters!

Jonathan Bonk

From the IAMS Secretariat

We are busy planning the forthcoming conference in Toronto with much anticipation. Please keep an eye on the IAMS Web site (which you can access directly from this newsletter ( We will let you know when the conference website is up and running, possibly as early as late September. There you will be provided with all of the information you need to register for the conference and to apply for scholarships. A steady trickle of abstracts has begun to flow in for the Study Groups. We would be pleased if the trickle of proposals with abstracts could turn into a torrent! You will know by the end of January whether your paper has been selected for presentation in one of the Study Group sessions. We look forward to seeing many of you in Toronto in 2012!

Cathy Ross PhotoGerald Anderson is making steady progress in writing the history of IAMS. He has written 42,000 words and is up to the year 2007. After writing about Balaton Assembly in 2008, his last chapter will be "Toward Toronto 2012."

In addition to his overview of the whole history of IAMS, he has invited three persons to write more detailed accounts of the three most active study groups in the Association. Christoffer Grundmann has written about the HEALING group; John Prior, SVD, has written about BISAM; and John Roxborogh has told the story of DABOH. Each of these is about 8,000 words and they enrich the story greatly.

After the text is finished, Jerry and Jonathan Bonk will review all the photos that Jerry has collected and decide how many can be included. There should be no problem in having the project published well before the Toronto Assembly, although there is no final decision as yet about a publisher.

Cathy Ross
General Secretary

From the IAMS Treasurer

IAMS finances are healthier now compared to the start of the year. This owes to a number of factors:

David Singh image
  1. Consistent efforts at gaining lapsed/new members
  2. Active solicitation of general and specific donations
  3. Strategic cost cutting among other things under executive committee and secretarial expenses
  4. Updating the active membership list which has a direct bearing upon the amount payable to Brill

The result of all this has been that by the middle of this year we have not only succeeded in cutting spending by about 15%, but we have also succeeded in generating almost the entire income budget under membership. Where we have fallen short is the amount we budgeted for the conference income but this is expected to pick up as we come closer to the end of the current year.

Our current balances show a healthy upward trend for which we owe a big thank you to all members/donors.

David Singh

Update: Fundraising Report

It is our goal to raise $152,000 CAD to provide subsidies for sixty deserving but needy IAMS members wishing to attend the Toronto Assembly in August. I am pleased to report that the nine organizations listed below have thus far responded positively to our appeal, either pledging or giving a total of $56,300 CAD.

  EUROS CAD Dollars
*Lunds Missonssällskap €4,500 6,300
*Zonneweelde, Netherlands €4,500 6,300
*ASM – USA   2,000
*AAMS – Australia   1,000
*OMSC – USA   500
*Church of Scotland   1,000
*Marion Breen Foundation   20,000
*Danish Mission Council €3,000 4,200
*FTESEA, USA   15,000

To achieve our objective, an additional $96,500 CAD in grants, gifts or pledges is needed by the end of this year, when we will begin processing applications for the Toronto conference. Some twenty additional organizations and individuals are being invited to assist us in achieving our goal. Look for a progress report in the November-December issue of IAMS Matters.

We need your help in identifying possible sources of financial assistance. While immediate goal is to provide full subsidies for sixty IAMS members to attend the Toronto assembly, our long term objective is to leave IAMS in a financially robust position when the 2012–2016 executive assumes its responsibilities in August 2012.

Jonathan Bonk

A Call for Papers for the 13th IAMS Assembly

August 15–20, 2012
Toronto, Canada
Migration, Human Dislocation, and the Good News:
Margins as the Center in Christian Mission

The IAMS 2012 Toronto Assembly will explore the profound missiological dimensions of human migration and dislocation, past, present, and future. We will attend especially to the many repercussions of widespread contemporary human movement for the theory and practice of Christian mission.

Toronto PictureThe Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, reflecting the lives of God's people who were uprooted, exiled, and scattered, feature epic experiences of human mobility like the call to a new land, exodus and resettlement, and the scattering of the early Christians. The last half-millennium has seen the Gospel span the globe, often accompanied by the disenfranchisement and sometimes obliteration of other peoples. Dislocation, compelled and voluntary, continues to characterize our contemporary human story as people cross state boundaries or move within their own countries in search of safety or well-being. Christian mission, often a feature of large-scale movements of peoples, must continue to attend responsibly to these historic global realities.

We welcome papers on mission and diverse aspects of human mobility from across the disciplines. These can touch upon a range of themes including ethnicity, race, gender, HIV-Aids, human rights, violence, poverty, nationalism, other religion s , and ecclesiastical tradition . In addition, we urge IAMS Study Group members to prepare papers and share research, especially as these relate to the Assembly's migration theme.

Study Groups:

Previous study groups have organized around: Healing and Pneumatology; Biblical Studies and Mission; *Women in Mission; History; *Interreligious Relations; *Globalization and Mission; *Ethnic Minorities and Mission; Documentation, Archives, Bibliography and Oral History; and Environment and Mission. IAMS welcomes suggestions for other thematic groups, and volunteers for facilitating, organizing and chairing study groups that have been inactive (indicated by an asterisk*) since 2008.


(1) Proposed topic, with 150–200-word abstract, is due by January 31, 2012.

(2) Draft paper is due by June 1, 2012.

Guidelines for writing paper: Papers are not to exceed 4,000 words, including notes. Writers will be expected to strictly adhere to the Style Guide for Mission Studies:

Process governing acceptance of paper: All proposals with abstracts will be carefully reviewed by the IAMS Executive Committee, who will finalize the Toronto program at its 2012 February meeting. Writers will be notified of the committee's decision before April 1, 2012.

Address all correspondence to:

The Secretariat International Association for Mission Studies c/o Church Mission Society Watlington Road, Oxford OX4 6BZ, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1865 787400
Fax: +44 1865 776375


Update: Mission Studies; Journal of the IAMS

Copies of the first issue of 2011 (volume 28.1) have just been reaching members as I write (the last week of August). As usual, it took about five to six months between the submission of manuscripts by the editor and the reception of copies by members. This issue is themed "Postmodernism, Postcolonialism and the Study of Christian Mission." As always, we tried to have as wide representation as possible, but we are limited in themed volumes.

Lalsangkima Pachuau PictureThe next issue (28.2) is on anthropology and Christian mission, and the final drafts of the articles are being submitted to the publisher. This volume will be followed by a pre-assembly volume. As a preparatory volume of the 13th Assembly of IAMS (August 15-20, 2012), the first issue of 2012 (volume 29.1) will deal with the assembly's theme "Migration, Human Dislocation, and the Good News: Margins as the Center in Christian Mission." A special request will be made to the publisher to mail out copies early so that members receive them before the assembly.

It seems a few paying members continue to have subscription issues. Membership-subscription is handled ably by the Secretariat office. If you have any question about your subscription of the journal through your membership, please direct them to the Secretary.

Lalsangkima Pachuau

Update: Biblical Studies and Mission

Our post-Balaton Conference project (2008–2011) on “Bible, Nation, Empire: The use of the Bible by scholars and by local congregations” elicited seven papers. Three papers focused on the topic, namely "Exorcising the Mind: Practicing Justice in a Disordered World", by Dario Barolin (Argentina); "Payment of Taxes to Empires and Governments: The Mattean and Abokobi Communities (Matthew 22:15–22)", by Eric Nii Bortey Anum (Ghana); and "Creating a Space for the Others: The Minorities as a Challenge to Church and State", by Johannes Nissen (Denmark). For further details visit the BISAM page on the IAMS website.

John Prior Photo2012 Toronto Conference: some 12 BISAM members have indicated interest in presenting a BISAM paper next year in Toronto– five from Asia, three from Africa, two from Latin America and one each from North America and Europe. Title and abstracts should be sent directly to the IAMS secretary with a copy to the BISAM coordinator. See BISAM page on IAMS website for further details.

BISAM HISTORY 1976–2012: A 8,500 word history of the first 35 years of the BISAM Study Group has been written by the coordinator as an appendix in the official history of IAMS by Gerald Anderson. Jerry Anderson's volume will be launched at the Toronto Conference next year.

BISAM NETWORK: Since Balaton (2008) the BISAM network has increased to 59 members of whom 18 are living in Europe, 14 in Africa, 9 in Asia, and 9 in Latin America, 6 in North America and three in Oceania. There are 13 women and 47 men. More women members and an increasing membership from the South would make the BISAM network further representative of the present state of biblical and mission studies today and better reflect both IAMS and the global church.

John Prior
BISAM Coordinator

Update: Gender

Theme statement for the Gender and Mission Study Group,
for the 13th Assembly of the International Association for Mission Studies,
August 15–20, 2012, Toronto, Canada.

Today, more than ever before in history, more people reside outside their country of origin. Many industrialized countries have seen unprecedented waves of migration of peoples from other lands into their territories and altering the complexion of their populace. These mass movements involve people who are driven from their homelands by all kinds of political, social, economic or social upheavals which include war, poverty, religious/cultural intolerance as well as environmental catastrophes. Survival instincts motivate people to move, in search of greener pastures and better security.[1] Analysts speak of push and pull factors in migration. The United Nations’ estimate on international migrants was 214 million in 2010; compared to 195 million in 2005.[2] Of this number, females constitute 49 per cent. Six out of every 10 international migrants (128 million) reside in a developed country, and the majority of those (74 million) are said to come from a developing country. At the level of inter-governmental cooperation, coordinated by the United Nations, numerous initiatives have been undertaken towards: protecting the rights of migrants; assessing the impact of economic crises; channeling international migration toward development as well as improving evidence-based data on migrant stocks disaggregated by age and sex.[3]

Rose Uchem PhotoWhat have not yet sufficiently caught attention are the complex and peculiar experiences migrants go through on account of their being male or female, or from a different ethnic origin; based a system of social ranking. These include stereotyping, stigmatization, victimization and discrimination from the host populations and other immigrants. Equally unacknowledged yet is the fact that migrants go with their religion, and play a missionary role in establishing new communities of faith and practice. Still more hidden is the fact that women often play a leading role[4] in initiating and sustaining such new mission units. Questions then arise: What gender factors help or hamper these founding efforts? What is the role of men in the development of immigrant Christian communities and what gender dynamics play out in immigrant communities in destination countries? What propels women or enables them to succeed in organizing and inaugurating Christian communities (churches)? What happens later on to the women that inaugurate churches?

The erstwhile “Women and Mission” study group sought to retrieve and bring to the fore the enormous contribution of women to mission both overseas and in their home churches all over the Christian world which mainline missiology and church history had ignored.[5] While this angle remains important and relevant, the last IAMS Assembly in Balaton, Hungary (2008) accepted a motion to rename the ‘Women and Mission’ study group ‘Gender and Mission.’ This was ratified by the current executive committee to broaden the base and encourage men and women missiologists and mission practitioners to engage this all important interface of gender and mission in their research. By gender[6] here is meant: the socially constructed roles, behaviors, feelings and attitudes expected of girls and boys, women and men, in a given society. It also connotes the rights, power and privileges accorded or not accorded each sex; as well as the restrictions and taboos imposed on them. In contradistinction to sex (the condition of being male or female) which is biological, natural and fairly constant, gender is social, cultural, human-made, learned and therefore changeable. This distinction is the basis for gender equality; a situation where men and women have equal opportunities for participation and enjoyment of rights, responsibilities and privileges in their society without any legal, cultural, political, economic, religious, or social hindrance on the basis of their sex. Thus, the observable (morphological, physiological and psychological) differences between men and women do not confer priority on the male nor provide justification for discrimination against the female. Difference is rather seen as a source of enrichment for the human community; a reason to work together as a team, each making up the strengths and weaknesses of the other. Difference is taken to be the hallmark of genuine complementarity and respect for the other who brings into the human partnership a unique contribution. This consideration is also the rationale for gender balance[7] which is the proportion of women to men’s representation and participation at the highest echelons of decision- and policy-making, as different from a massive presence at the level of the work force, within an organization. The concern about gender balance is born out of a realization that gender is a social fabric wherein Christian witness needs to take place.[8] This is necessary because gender issues are often a matter of life and death for many women in many contexts, including migration. How power is shared is crucial to the quality of our witness to Jesus, the Christ, who relinquished power that others might live.

Nowhere in the world does gender rapport exist yet, and this situation is a marked aspect of humanity’s state of imperfection; a manifestation of collective human sinfulness, and therefore, an agenda for Christian mission. How these realities color the theory and praxis of mission with reference to migration in diverse contexts will be the preoccupation of the sub-theme, “Migration, Gender and Mission,” at the forth-coming 13th Assembly of the International Association for Mission Studies (IAMS), August 15–20, 2012, Toronto, Canada, in relation to the theme, “Migration, Human Dislocation, and the Good News: Margins as the Center in Christian Mission.” The Gender and Mission Study Group, therefore, invites men and women scholars as well as mission practitioners to present papers which mainstream the above or related concerns and throw light on how to advance Christian witness beyond the agendas set by our societies and cultures.

[1] Idahosa, M. C. (2008). Modern Challenges that confront Women Religious. The Catholic Voyage, 5. (31-47).
[2] International migration and development,, accessed 7/29/11.
[3] See note 2
[4] Robert, D. L. (2002). Gospel Bearers, Gender Barriers: Missionary Women in the twentieth Century. N.Y: Orbis.
[5] Heidmanns, K. and van Schwakwk, A. (2004). Women and Mission Study Group Project Description.
[6] Uchem, R. N.(2010). Teacher Quality: Gender and Religious Implications In Light of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. International Journal of Educational Research (INJER), 11 (3), 237-248.
[7] Woodward, A., E. (2002). Going for Gender Balance: A Guide for Balancing Decision-Making. Belgium, Brussels: Council of Europe.
[8] Uchem, R.N. (2010). Cross-Cutting Issues in Mission Education: Reflections of a Missiologist in Residence. Oxford: Crowther Centre for Mission Education, 14

Rose Uchem MSHR
Regional Representative Africa

Update: Interfaith Issues in Toronto

Interfaith encounters have been part of human history but, more recently not least in academic contexts, these have been at the very core of Mission Studies. Here, these encounters have served both as primary sources and contexts for the examination of the aims, approaches, models, outcomes etc. of such encounters. This is a dynamic field of enquiry and one that has serious implications for Christianity today. For this reason, one of the tracks at the Toronto 2012 IAMS Assembly has been planned to address this theme. Mika Vähäkangas and David Singh, who are coordinating this track at the Assembly, welcome papers on the theme of interfaith encounters from theological, philosophical, historical, and empirical angles. It is hoped that this track will: Firstly, generate more interest in this field among IAMS members; Secondly, it will eventually lead to one or more 'permanent' study groups to further explore the questions/subthemes/issues/problems arising from the deliberations in different contexts; Thirdly, widely disseminate through research, local conferences and publications those aspect which can potentially further inform mission studies in general and particularly Christians in such encounters. There will be support for these developments beyond the conference from IAMS.

David Singh

Update: Environment and Mission Study Group

Estimates for massive population displacements based on predictions of a rise in sea level due to climate change vary enormously from 150 million[1] to 1 billion[2] by 2050. In spite of skepticism surrounding those figures, there is evidence of short-distance internal migration in countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali, whereas long-distance migration in those same countries tends to occur among better educated who leave their countries of origin in the wake of abundant rains and greater access to food.[3]

Allision Howell PhotoWhatever the case of the statistics, environmental problems ultimately lead to recurrent human dislocation and constant migration. The media expose to us images of starving and malnourished refugees struggling to reach relief camps and escape from the consequences of drought; crowds of homeless waiting for buses to evacuate them from flood zones in the aftermath of hurricanes; and shocked residents of towns flattened by tornadoes, seeking temporary shelter with relatives and friends. The 1986 nuclear explosion in Chernobyl, Ukraine, resulted in the forced evacuation of tens of thousands from land poisoned by radiation. Small groups of elderly among the displaced have since moved back into the area, irrespective of the radiation levels.

Throughout history, Christian mission and Christians have not only borne the impact of environmental distress but have also sought to alleviate human suffering and social upheaval caused by climate change, earthquakes, volcanic activity, drought, tsunamis and so on.[4]

At the 13th Assembly of IAMS in Toronto (in August 2012), a Study Group on the Environment and Missions will be convened for the first time. The theme of the Assembly on, "Migration, Human Dislocation, and the Good News: Margins as the Center in Christian Mission" is therefore highly relevant considering the environmental and climatic issues that confront humanity as present. Also, lessons from the experience of the Church and Christian mission in the past may provide helpful insights into a world that is still trying to understand the extent of the environmental problems predicted by scholars and others. Scholars and Mission practitioners are therefore invited to prepare papers on the Assembly theme and specifically related to the environment, climate change, human dislocation, migration and the Good News.

[1] François Gemenne, Climate-induced population displacements in a 4° C+ world, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (A), 369, p. 182, doi: 10.1098/rsta.2010.0287., Accessed. 10 December 2010.

[2] Human Tide: the real migration crisis. A Christian Aid Report, May 2007, pp.1, 22., Accessed, 2 October 2009.

[3] Cecilia Tacoli, "Crisis or adaptation? Migration and climate change in a context of high mobility," Environment and Urbanization, Vol. 21(2), 513-525.

[4] Georgina H. Endfield and David J. Nash, "Missionaries and Morals: Climatic Discourse in Nineteenth-Century Central Southern Africa," Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 92 (4), 2002, 727-742. See also for example, "2006 Pacific church leaders' consultation statement, World Council of Churches,, Accessed, 30 June 2009.

Allison M. Howell

Allison Howell is an Associate Professor and the Dean of Accredited Studies at the Akrofi-Christaller Institute. She also works with a program on writing Bible Commentaries in Ghanaian languages. She has an ongoing interest and involvement in mission and the environment.

Healing / Pneumatology

The forthcoming IAMS General Conference presents besides other prospects the opportunity to once again share ongoing research, filed-studies, historical investigation, and theoretical reflection on matters related to healing and/or pneumatology in missiological perspective. The study-group convener, therefore, invites all those more than forty people who once had indicated their interest in pursuing such issues further and all others who are curious about the missiological inquiry of healing phenomena and matters related to pneumatology (mainly its omission from the agenda of mission studies) to avail of this chance and submit paper proposals to the IAMS secretariat, because several group-sessions for presentation and discussion will be held. Everyone interested is asked to actively share in the exchange in order to advance missiological understanding in and knowledge of healing and pneumatology.

Christoffer Grundmann PhotoAs to this date some have already offered research paper presentations, notably about the Fifohazana movement in the Lutheran church in south Madagascar, while others are contemplating to write a paper reflective of the main theme of the conference by studying the impact of global migration with its accompanying translocation of worldviews (spirit worlds; spirit causation etc.). Hopefully others will join in likewise manner. Also, every member of the group is encouraged to bring along whatever material, bibliographical references, and internet links to relevant sites have become available to her or him for making these known to peers and share them within the IAMS network; it goes without saying that all this need not be in English only. Rather, the compilation and development of polyglot, multilingual databases of various media on the topics of healing and pneumatology is more than desirable and an expressed goal of the workings of this study-group.

Finally, one of the distinctive features of this study-group is its interdisciplinary potential, something which we should foster consciously. This is to say that you are invited to share information about the upcoming conference and especially the sessions of our study-group with non-missiologists, too, who are studying different aspects of healing (in the medical field, for instance) or pneumatology (cultural anthropology, philosophy). Might be that some of them can join us at the conference for the benefit of mutual inspiration and stimulation thereby furthering the common cause.

Christoffer Grundmann
John R. Eckrich Prof. in Religion and the Healing Arts
Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana USA

World Christianity

(Report pending)

Arun W. Jones
Dan and Lillian Hankey Associate Professor of World Evangelism
Candler School of Theology
Emory University

Ethnic Minorities

(Report pending)

Lalsangkima Pachuau
Dean of Advanced Research Programs
Professor of History and Theology of Mission

Documentation, Archives, Bibliography and Oral History Update

(Report pending)

For information online:

Michael Nai Chiu Poon
Director and Asian Christianity Coordinator of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia
Trinity Theological College

Marek Rostkowski OMI
Pontifical Urbaniana University

Response / Opinions / Suggestions

(Report pending)

Executive Members Nominations

(Report pending)