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The growth of Christianity in the global South and the fall of colonialism in the middle of the twentieth century caused a crisis in Christian mission, as many southern Christians spoke out about indignities they had suffered and many northern Christians retreated from the global South. American Christians soon began looking for a fresh start, a path forward that was neither isolationist nor domineering. Out of this dream the ''sister church'' model of mission was born. Rather than western churches sending representatives into the ''mission field,'' they established congregation-to-congregation partnerships with churches in the global South.
Janel Kragt Bakker draws on extensive fieldwork and interviews with participants in these partnerships to explore the sister church movement and in particular its effects on American churches. Because Christianity is numerically and in many ways spiritually stronger in the global South than it is in the global North--while the imbalance in material resources runs in the opposite direction--both northern and southern Christians stand to gain. Challenging prevailing notions of friction between northern and southern Christians, Bakker argues that sister church relationships are marked by interconnectivity and collaboration.
Janel Kragt Bakker is Associate Director of the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research in the Saint John's University community of Collegeville, Minnesota. She earned a doctorate in religion and culture at the Catholic University of America.
will be very helpful for leaders in churches that are already involved, or considering involvement, in partnerships with congregations in other parts of the world."--Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology
"Bakker's excellent study of 12 churches in the Washington, D.C., area that developed sister relationships with churches in the global South, particularly in Latin America and Africa, is fascinating....The strength of Bakker's study is its honesty and candor. She does not romanticize the sister-church relationships, and she frankly discusses the challenges and tough issues that emerge as churches try to connect to each other despite major economic, social and theological differences....This inspiring book is important reading for North Americans who are unaware of these remarkable trends in global Christianity."--Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought
"I highly recommend that denominational leaders and personnel involved in global church partnerships read Sister Churches. They will benefit from Bakker s thoughtful investigation and lessons learned in the case studies."--Sociology of Religion
"The rise and development of Christianity in the global South is a major fact of our time, but what is its impact on Christianity in the United States? In this path-breaking study, Janel Kragt Bakker explores a growing 'sister church' movement, which pairs congregations in the U.S. with ones in Africa, Asia or Latin America. What she finds is that in spite of unequal material resources, these sister churches can experience genuine partnership and a mutual meeting of needs. What do the Americans need and gain? Spiritual depth and strength, Bakker says, and strikingly different views of America's role in the world. This is a solidly researched and fascinating look into the new reality of world Christianity-in America."--Joel Carpenter, Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, Calvin College