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Frances S. Adeney receives top Lilly Grant for project on women’s mission theologies

Apr 03, 2012
Frances S. Adeney, William A. Benfield Jr. Professor of Evangelism and Global Mission at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, has received a Lilly Theological Research Grant for 2012-2013. Supported by a grant from Lilly Endowment, this top fellowship for faculty research is presented by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in the United States and Canada to encourage high quality research among scholars across the theological disciplines.

Professor Adeney’s project will explore how practices among international women theologians and mission workers have contributed to contemporary women’s mission theologies. The grant will allow Adeney to take formal leave from classroom teaching during the 2012-2013 academic year in order to devote her time to this research.

“I am grateful to Frances Adeney for her continued passion, work, and leadership in widening the understandings of mission and evangelism in a way that celebrates diversity and respects global differences. Her achievement promises to not only stimulate theological scholarship but also benefit seminarians, the wider academy, and communities of faith,” said Seminary President Michael Jinkins in an announcement to the campus community.

Adeney’s project will analyze the practices and theologies of women missiologists, missionaries, and church and ecumenical workers from the United States, Europe, and Brazil, through interviews, along with her review of books, articles, and letters written by her contributors and other women theologians and missionaries. By focusing on the voices of women in mission, she believes this process will illustrate how women have articulated and displayed Christian mission theologies that remained unrecognized in contrast to traditional theological approaches that were primarily “dominated by men using traditional theological approaches, appealing to the Bible or church authorities as a starting point,” and how women’s practices have influenced mission theologies among women today.

“As Christian women took on mission tasks in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, they served the church and society working ecumenically and with community structures. They developed practices that displayed mission theologies not yet articulated by formal mission theologies. Contemporary women in mission continue this trend. Through my analysis, I believe theologies connected to practices will be articulated, adding new insights into women’s mission theologies and revealing practices as a fertile arena for mission theologizing,” states Adeney in her project description.

Adeney joined the Seminary faculty in 1999. As a professor of evangelism and global mission, she specializes in issues of Christianity and culture, and more specifically, the place of religion in the social world and the implications for ethics in the interactions between religion and society. This focus is evident in her books, Graceful Evangelism: Christian Witness in a Complex World (Baker Academic Publishing, 2010) and Christianity Encountering World Religions, co-written with Terry Muck (Baker, 2009), which discusses the challenges of mission in a global context and presents the church with ways to interact with other religions while affirming the centrality of the gospel to Christian faith. She also is the author of Christianity and Human Rights: Influences and Issues (SUNY Press, 2007) and Christian Women in Indonesia: A Narrative Study Gender and Religion (Syracuse University Press, 2003); "Contextualizing Universal Values: A Method for Christian Mission" in International Bulletin of Mission Research (2007); and contributions to Gospel Bearers, Gender Barriers: Missionary Women in the Twentieth Century edited by Dana Robert (Orbis, 2002) and Ethics and World Religions (Orbis, 1999).

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