American Society of Missiology

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Founded in 1973, the American Society of Missiology (ASM) is dedicated to providing academic and professional support to scholars in the field of mission studies with membership open to professors, leaders of missionary orders and agencies, and missionaries. Founding members included Roman Catholics, conciliar Protestants, and independent Protestants from Canada and the United States. Parity among the traditions is maintained by electing office holders on a rotating basis from each.

In North America, except for Roman Catholics, the term missiology was rarely used before 1960. European Protestants and Roman Catholics understood missiology to be the scientific study of Christian missions while Anglo-American Protestants emphasized the history and practice of missions. The 1960s were a period of crisis for both Protestants and Roman Catholics. Missionary vocations declined among conciliar Protestants and Roman Catholics. Mission training schools were closed and seminaries discontinued chairs of mission studies. Many mission studies programs were consolidated, e.g., the merger of various Catholic mission studies programs at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

A new thrust emerged among evangelical Protestants symbolized by the founding of Fuller Seminary's School of World Mission (1965) and the School of World Mission and Evangelism of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (1965). These new schools described their programs as applied missiology, but they also recognized the need to develop academically recognized programs.

The ASM was organized to promote the scholarly study of theological, historical, social and practical questions relating to the missionary dimension of the Christian church in terms of: (1) the relationship of missiology to other scholarly disciplines; (2) promoting fellowship and cooperation among individuals and institutions engaged in activities and studies related to missiology; (3) facilitating mutual assistance and exchange of information among those thus engaged; and (4) encouraging research and publication. The work of the society is conducted through an annual meeting held the third week of June. The Association of Professors of Mission (founded 1952) meets annually in conjunction with ASM. Besides conducting the society's official business, the annual meeting provides opportunity for members to meet for study and fellowship. Since 1988 these sessions have been held at the Society of the Divine Word Techny Towers, Techny, Illinois.

ASM has published Missiology: An International Review since 1973, a leading scholarly quarterly in the field of mission studies. Through Norman Thomas, book review editor of Missiology, 1985 to 1999, ASM has participated in several bibliography projects, including the international Documentation, Archives and Bibliography (DAB) and a comprehensive annotated bibliography of the 12,500 most important books published in the field of missiology between 1960 and 1990. The latter was published in cooperation with the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) Series. In addition, since 1980, 30 titles have been published in the ASM/Orbis Books series. Several of these works have become standard works in the field of mission studies, including David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in the Theology of Mission (1991) and Louis Luzbetak, SVD, The Church and Cultures: New Perspectives in Missiological Anthropology (1988). In 1997 a dissertation series was started.

Bibliography: w. r. shenk and g. r. hunsberger, The American Society of Missiology: The First Quarter Century (Decatur, Georgia 1998).

[w.r. shenk]

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American Society of Missiology

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American Society of Missiology