Professor of the Theology of Human Mobility at Pontifical Urbaniana University, Italy
“Catholicity: Migration, Religion, and World Christianity”
Abstract: Migrants and refugees have been since the beginning among the main protagonists of the Christian mission and, as such, the subjects of World Christianity who have carried the faith through their cultural traditions to the ends of the earth. At the same time, with their courage, resiliency, and hope they also represent the pioneers and spokespersons of the Christian pilgrimage toward catholicity––the wholeness, fullness, inclusivity that characterizes God’s reign ––in a globalized world in which conflicts and divisions are politically and religiously motivated. It will be argued that two key concepts and practices that advance the eschatological event of catholicity are synodality and the “culture of encounter” (Pope Francis), which, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, must become two distinctive and essential elements of the mission of World Christianity in the “age of migration”.
Respondent: Dr. Cecil M. Robeck Jr., Senior Professor of Church History and Ecumenics and Special Assistant to the President for Ecumenical Relations
Associate Professor of History at University of Notre Dame
“Mission: Protestant Migration and the (Re-)Evangelization of California”
Abstract: “Restless tides of humanity” had long made their way to California, with plans for redemption in tow. So noted a Southern Baptist editor when marveling at his denomination’s move into the Golden State “bringing the glad news of salvation and saying to the thousands of lost people, ‘California, here we come.’” Uttered in 1946, amid the state’s postwar boom, these are sentiments that countless Protestants have exclaimed and embraced when first encountering California and its epicenter of cultural transformation, Los Angeles. This presentation will provide a historical overview of Protestant migration in (and out of) Los Angeles from World War II to the present. While observing general patterns of movement and institutional change within Los Angeles’s sprawling Protestant community, it will pay close attention to the ways that migration has made the city a site of particularly intense and innovative evangelization, a crucible of religious transformation on a national scale, and a gateway for global Christianity.
Respondent: Dr. Robert Chao Romero, Associate Professor, César E. Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, UCLA
Senior Director of Research and Evaluation at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at USC
“Los Angeles: Crossroads for Migrating Faith Communities”
Abstract: Los Angeles has long attracted migrants—both from different parts of the US and from other countries—who are seeking new opportunities in life. As such, the single dominant reality of the region is its diversity; there is no single ethnic group, way of life, or industrial sector that dominates the scene. This applies to the LA religion as well. Los Angeles is the most religiously diverse city in the world, as religion has been transported to the city along with those seeking that new start in life. What is it about Los Angeles that attracts and even encourages such a broad range of people and their many different religious expressions? What happens to these religions as they experience and interact with the culture and diversity of Los Angeles? And, how do they maintain their vitality as they face myriad alternative and competing religious groups and the secular pursuits that the region offers?
Respondent: Dr. Alexia Salvatierra, Assistant Professor of Integral Mission and Global Transformation, School of Intercultural Studies
John Knox MacLean Professor of Religious Studies at Pomona College
“Faith Resources: Muslim Migration to Los Angeles”
Abstract: In the past few decades, Muslim migration to the Greater Los Angeles area has coalesced into building strong civic and religious institutions that have positioned Muslims to strengthen both their own communities and build interfaith connections. The tragic events of 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror have led to increased surveillance and violence against Muslims/misidentified Muslims both domestically and abroad. In addition to ongoing deportations, since the inception of the Trump administration the acceptance rates for Muslim refugees and migrants has diminished under the guise of national security. The larger culture of Islamophobia and population racism have brought significant challenges to Muslim communities and individuals, while the work of Muslim faith-based and civic organizations and their interfaith connections in resettling refugees shows a remarkable degree of commitment to their values.
Respondent: Dr. Matthew Kaemingk, Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics and Associate Dean for Fuller Texas
Rebecca Y. Kim
Frank R. Seaver Chair of Social Science, Professor of Sociology, and the Director of the Ethnic Studies program at Pepperdine University
“Inclusion-Exclusion: Asian Migration and ‘Christian’ California”
Abstract: This paper examines how Asian immigrants and their descendants are making their own mark in and outside of the Californian “Christian” landscape despite their history of exclusion in US society. I first discuss the various cultural and structural barriers that Asian immigrants encountered in their efforts to become part of the United States, particularly in California. I then explore how Asian Americans are reshaping and revitalizing the Californian “Christian” landscape through their churches, campus ministries, and missions organizations, and how they are constructing their distinctive faith, theology, and religious practice. I also explain how Asian American Christians hold the keys to a more united multiracial future in California and beyond. I do this by incorporating past and present social scientific research on Asian American Christians, including my own, and drawing from in-depth interview data from the Religious Leadership and Diversity Project (2014–2016).
Respondent: Dr. Daniel D. Lee, Assistant Provost for the Center For Asian American Theology and Ministry and Assistant Professor of Theology and Asian American Ministry
Divisional Dean of the Religion and Philosophy Division and Professor of Religion and Hispanic Studies at Pepperdine University
“Transnationalism: Latino/a Faith Connections with Latin America”
Abstract: This paper contributes to a growing body of literature in the relatively new field of “diaspora missiology,” defined by The Seoul Declaration on Diaspora Missiology as “a missiological framework for understanding and participating in God’s redemptive mission among people living outside their place of origin” (2009). More specifically, this paper advances the diaspora mission discourse in North America by drawing attention to the evangelistic opportunities and theological challenges presented by the Hispanic evangelical church in the United States. Missiological insights from the Latin American diaspora, as well as the early church, suggest that an important step for leaders in the worldwide mission of God is to embrace and actively promote our identity as “a colony of resident aliens” living in modern-day Babylon. The rise of nationalistic, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies in the United States underscore the importance of this paper for God’s missionary people in 2020.
Respondent: Dr. Lisseth Rojas-Flores, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology
Leopoldo A. Sánchez M.
Werner R. H. and Elizabeth R. Krause Professor of Hispanic Ministries at Concordia Seminary
“Theological Approaches to Migration: Their Impact on Missional Thinking and Action”
Abstract: Theological approaches to migration can take as their starting point hospitality to migrants, law and reform considerations, models on the role of the church in society, and the notion of special relations. What are the potential strengths of each of these approaches to migration for dealing with a complex issue? We argue that a multidimensional theology of migration, which accounts for a diversity of perspectives and concerns, has the potential to promote fruitful missional thinking and action.
Respondent: Dr. Carly L. Crouch, David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament
Visiting Research Scholar at the California Center for Sustainable Communities in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA
“Borders: Citizenship in California”
Abstract: As California’s cultural epicenter, LA stands at a crossroads: 100+ languages spoken in public schools; the world’s second largest Mexican city; enormous populations of citizens of countries around the world. Like California, LA has projected its image to the world as a place belonging. Yet amid a growing presence of global citizens, this has not always translated to full citizenship. With perpetual amnesia amid the cultural production, especially forgetting injustices done to minorities and Native Californians, California’s residents face difficult positions. Throughout a history of inclusion and exclusion, new ways of coexisting have marked California’s approaches. This was often fueled by California churches’ inchoate understandings of kingdom or heavenly citizenship, which rather than enabling faithful discipleship often disabled more responsible approaches that could have better sought the good of California and its many residents who seek to experience the better lives of the California dream.
Respondent: Dr. Andrea Smith, Professor of Ethnic Studies, UC Riverside