Global Christianity: Church History and African Studies in Dialogue


Global Christianity has long been a subject of intense debate, both as part of the history of Christianity and of the process of globalization, in Africa and elsewhere. In this seminar three papers will contribute to the debate and discuss global Christianity from three different perspectives and approaches. This will include the place of global Christianity in both teaching and research in the disciplines of Church History and African Studies. The seminar is being organized by the Centre of African Studies and the Department of Church History at the Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen, on the occasion of the retirement of Associate Professor Niels Kastfelt. The Faculty will host a reception after the seminar.

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Florian Wöller: Οἰκουμένη and the Global Church: Notions of Worldwide Christianity in Late Antiquity

In contrast to modern parliance, the late antique concept of Christianity as a religion encompassing the whole world was deeply rooted in theological and religious discourse. Whereas today the controversial notion of ‘ecumenical’ may be best translated with ‘all churches’, the Constantinian and post-Constantinian church developed both a normative and descriptive idea of οἰκουμένη that was meant to embrace the ‘whole church’. The paper will discuss the latter, seeking to establish an approach that appreciates the factual plurality of late antique Christianity within and beyond the Roman Empire. A particular emphasis will be on Africa, both the hinter- and the heartland of late antique Christianity.

Florian Wöller is Associate Professor at the Department of Church History, Faculty of Theology.

Karen Lauterbach: Experiences and Expressions of Global Lived Christianity

Mobility and movement have long been crucial to the making of Global Christianity. Classically through the travelling out of European missionaries and more recently by the mobility of Christians from the African continent to the global north. This paper discusses the making of global Christianity through the lens of the subjective experiences and lived faith of Congolese Christians in Kampala, Uganda. It looks at the entanglements of faith and movement and analyses the ways in which physical and existential mobility shape new forms of global lived Christianity.

Karen Lauterbach is Associate Professor at the Centre of African Studies, Faculty of Theology.

Niels Kastfelt: The Life and Death of Wilberforce Myahwegi. A Local Story of Global Christianity.

By using the life-story of Wilberforce Myahwegi as an example this talk will apply a biographical and local approach to studying the making of a global Christianity. Wilberforce Myahwegi (1922-1994) was a Lutheran pastor and the chief of his ethnic group, the Bachama, in northern Nigeria and studying his life and the circumstances surrounding his death and burial we can gain insights into the complexities of how one form of global Christianity has been shaped. By way of conclusion the paper will briefly discuss the place of global Christianity between Church History and African Studies.

Niels Kastfelt is Associate Professor Emeritus at the Department of Church History and Centre of African Studies, Faculty of Theology

There will be a discussion after each paper chaired by Anna Vind, Head of Department of Church History.