Christian Culture and Conversion: ‘…Turning till we come around right ‘
To turn, turn will be our delight till by turning, turning, we come around right’.
from Shaker hymn ‘Tis the Gift to be Simple…” to the tune of ‘The Lord of the Dance’
For nine years past, I have been serving as a mission co-worker of the Presbyterian Church (USA), as an Education Officer. Mobile Teacher Trainer and Donor Relations Manger first in South Sudan, Kenya and subsequently in Ghana, where my husband, Professor Andrew F. Walls, has been serving. He has worked with the Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture (ACI) for many years, and is Emeritus Professor there; he is also Honorary Professor at the University of Edinburgh, and Professor of the History of Mission at Liverpool Hope University.
Indeed, for more than sixty years, Andrew has been straddling the worlds of mission and the academy, as an academic missionary and a missionary in the academic world: engaged in the training of the ministry in Sierra Leone and in Scotland (and, later, in USA), setting up university departments of Religion in Nigeria and in UK, directing a doctoral programme in missions and ecumenics in Princeton Seminary and sharing for many years in another such programme in Ghana; founding journals for the study of African religion, lecturing in all six continents, helping to found learned societies for the better understanding of world mission and to gain recognition for the field of academic study now widely called “World Christianity”.
For my part, at ACI, my position is Senior Research Fellow, and at Liverpool Hope, I am an (unsalaried) Research Fellow, especially concerned with the Christianity of the first African Diaspora to the Americas and its relations with Africa.
Ours is a joint mission to the intellectual and cultural world in Africa and the West; accordingly, we seek to operate as an independent mission team.
Thus, the content of our ministry is mission in the academic world, that involves teaching, lecturing, and writing, and that takes place both in Africa and in the West.
Accordingly, our aims relate to fostering and assisting Christian leadership development in Africa and the West, and to provide resources for increased Christian understanding and cultural awareness worldwide.
The problem we are trying to address and why:
The need for Christian activity in the intellectual and academic world is huge. The powers of darkness are hard at work there, and the effects work their way deep into Western popular culture, and from there globally. Also, Africa, Asia, and Latin America are now needed to provide leadership for the worldwide Church; and that will require a huge body of consecrated scholarship from Christians in those continents. And further, we need a grand renewal in theological thinking and writing in the West that takes account of the great work of God in the world beyond the West. To these tasks we humbly believe we have been called for the sake of the kingdom of God. This follows our many years working in universities and serving in various parts of Africa.
We do not expect to have a single base, though we will be retaining our affiliation with the Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture (ACI) in Akropong, Ghana and with the Centre for the Study of Asian and African Christianity at Liverpool Hope University. Both of these institutions are offering a warm welcome to our involvement; we also hope to build up the co-operative relationships between them, and with other institutions in the service of the Kingdom.
Professor Andrew F. Walls has lived in Aberdeen, Scotland for many years, and is a local preacher of the Methodist Church, where he is a member of the Crown Terrace Methodist congregation. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford and has taught in universities in Africa, Europe and North America, and has lectured in Asia and the Pacific region; he has written books and articles on a range of theological and historical topics. He also written hymns, poems and plays and sketches for radio and the small stage.
His hobbies are listening to European classical music, reading Jane Austen, walking outdoors and traveling.
Originally from Belize City, Central America, Dr. Ingrid Reneau Walls grew up Methodist, and later, due to a peripatetic childhood after emigrating to the USA as a youth, she had the unusual ecumenical experience of worshipping Jah in a variety of congregations including: Baptists, Primitive Baptist, COGIC, Holiness, Presbyterian Church (USA), Presbyterian Church in America, Anglican / Episcopalian and Charismatic. She is a currently a minister of Shiloh Church, Oakland-California, and with her husband, is a member of Crown Terrace Methodist Church.
She holds degrees from Rutgers University and has taught African Diaspora Literature and Black Feminist Theory at the University of South Carolina. In addition to her academic writing, she has published poetry and short fiction.
Her hobbies are reading Tolkien, walking outdoors, and watching and discussing films from around the world.