Ten years ago, Todd Johnson and I published the Atlas of Global Christianity. It was an attempt to take account of the worldwide presence of Christianity one hundred years after the famous Edinburgh 1910 World Missionary Conference. It graphically demonstrated how a faith that once was geographically concentrated in Europe had become truly global. Indeed, it showed that Christianity was fast becoming predominantly a non-Western religion.
For me, it was an education to be part of a highly creative team based at the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, near Boston in the USA. Cutting-edge technology, state-of-the-art statistics and innovative design created beautiful maps for the Atlas. These were complemented by original interpretative essays, invariably written by indigenous scholars with deep knowledge of own contexts. The result was rather a special book which enjoyed a spell as an Edinburgh University Press bestseller.
One thing led to another and in 2014 we embarked on a series of books titled the Edinburgh Companions to Global Christianity. These follow the approach pioneered by the Atlas but take it to a deeper level of level by examining Christianity on a continent-by-continent basis. Four volumes have already been published, two are in the making and this week we embarked on a seventh. Joining Todd and I to work editorially on Christianity in North America is Grace Ji-Sun Kim, who brings much original insight to the task. Now we begin to build our team of authors to undertake the writing.
This endeavour continues to be an education for me as I learn more about the ways in which Christian faith comes to expression in different contexts. We live in a time that presents many challenges for people of faith but also many opportunities to expand our horizons and enrich our understanding. The Edinburgh Companions are one attempt to seize this opportunity.