Globalization and Interfaith Studies

For quite some time now theological education has included discussions and forums on Globalization and the impact of religion on the globalized world. In 1990 the United Theological College submitted a grant proposal and became one of five theological colleges in North America chosen by the Lilly foundation to explore and implement a course of study that would help theological students begin to think of the theological ramifications of globalized religions. I was asked to join the Pilot Immersion team for South Africa and become a member of the Project for Globalization of Theological Education. In 1994 I went as the representative from the college on the team of over 20 theological educators to tour South Africa and establish liaisons with Christians in South Africa who were eager to begin theological dialogues which would seek commonalities and diversities with Christians from North America.

As a consequence to these early endeavours the B.Th./ M.Div. program developed various courses in which students studying for the ministry could have first-hand experiences of the church in different places on the globe. To this day, students are required to travel to Cuba for an intense field experience of the church outside of North America.

My interests in Africa continued and in 1999 I was invited to deliver a number of lectures in Zimbabwe on The Book of Job for an African Context, a series of eight lectures for the priests of the Anglican Province of Central Africa, comprised of 15 dioceses in Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The meeting took place in Harare in 1999. As was the case then, and still is now, this province of the Anglican Communion does not ordain women to the priesthood. For the first time I found myself in a place where the Bishops of the province were openly opposed to women’s ordination, unlike in South Africa.

In 2008 I was asked to address the General Assembly of the World Student Christian Federation, which was meeting in Montreal, to deliver a key note speech based on the conference theme, ‘Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy’. I entitled my talk “ Prophetic Voices for a time of Global Awareness” which was reworked as a speech delivered at convocation of the M.D.T.C. and entitled “Theologians without Borders”.

At present I am teaching the required course of the final year students in the B.Th. / M.Div. [popup url=’http://www.patriciagkirkpatrick.com/courses#relg479′] RELG 479: Christianity in Global Perspective [/popup] which brings a contemporary gaze to my research as here my focus is on the issues confronting present-day Christianity as it continues to meet the challenges of other faiths and an increasingly intolerant ‘new atheism’.

Graduate students interested in pursuing research in areas of biblical studies and contemporary faith should e-mail me at patricia.kirkpatrick@mcgill.ca.

Relevant Publications