World Christianity

Candler’s World Christianity program prepares students for ministry in culturally and internationally diverse Christian and interreligious communities. It also trains emerging scholars for academic research in the burgeoning area of world Christianity.

Candler boasts one of the strongest interdisciplinary faculty cohorts in the field, including historians, anthropologists, and theologians, who are at the forefront of academic research and influential thought leaders. By enrolling in the program, you are also at the doorstep of Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion, with a faculty who study religious cultures around the world, providing a range of opportunities for cross-disciplinary study. Whether you are interested in leadership or service in the Church, or preparation for doctoral study, Candler’s World Christianity program will provide you with formation necessary for the future.

Outside the classroom you will find opportunities to reflect on the church in its great unity and diversity. You will also encounter and examine the interplay of local and global dynamics in the life of the church. As a historical city of religious vitality, a hub of migration, and a growing center of U.S. Catholicism in the southeast United States, Atlanta is a globally connected city in which to gain practical experience through a ministry internship. Further afield, Candler provides opportunities to study abroad through one of its 14 international partnerships in 13 different countries. Live and study alongside theology students from around the world. For shorter term globally engaged learning, you can broaden your knowledge of religious and cultural landscapes on a travel seminar, or spend a summer as an intern in an international setting.

For more information about World Christianity at Candler, contact Dr. Jehu Hanciles, Director of World Christianity, at

Faculty Advisory Board

Ponder their blogs. Read their books. Reflect on their lectures. Follow faculty’s creative and scholarly work online. A selection of Candler and Emory faculty’s public scholarship related to their study of Christianity worldwide is available for you to peruse below. *The faculty advisory board provides counsel and informed guidance on the functions and development of the program in consultation with the program Director. Please see the Concentration tab to learn about the range of faculty whose research, courses, and advisement support meeting World Christianity program requirements.

Dr. Jehu J. Hanciles

Director of the World Christianity Program and D.W. and Ruth Brooks Professor of World Christianity

Are we living in the best of times or the worst of times? How do we understand the relationship between local and global phenomenon? Listen to Dr. Jehu J. Hanciles reflect on this question through the lens of migration across the history of Christianity. Watch “Globalization and Migration: The Movement of God’s World.”

Dr. Helen Jin Kim

Associate Professor of American Religious History

“Why did late-twentieth century American evangelical organizations find success in South Korea?” Read why Dr. Helen J. Kim made this question her research focus. Read “I Dare You to Ask: On the Value of a ‘Beginner’s Mind’ in a World of Pre-Packaged Answers.”

Dr. Kwok Pui Lan

Dean's Professor of Systematic Theology

What is the relationship between civil disobedience, religion and social movements, and what is the role of churches in social conflict? Read reflections from scholars and activists in Hong Kong in The Hong Kong Protests and Political Theology, edited by Dr. Kwok Pui Lan and Francis Ching-Wah Yip.

The Rev. Dr. Arun Jones

Dan and Lillian Hankey Associate Professor of World Evangelism

How did North Indian Christianity connect the religious message of western evangelical missionaries to preexisting religious renewal movements and Indigenous religious experience, giving birth to one of many Christian movements? Read Dr. Arun W. Jones’ award winning book to explore how he answers these questions. Purchase Missionary Christianity and Local Religion: American Evangelicalism in North India, 1836-1870.

Dr. Joy Ann McDougall

Associate Professor of Systematic Theology

How do feminist theologies contribute to the renewal of the life of the church and its witness to the world? Read Dr. Joy Ann McDougall’s response to this question in The Christian Century. Read “Women’s work: Feminist theology for a new generation.”

Dr. Devaka Premawardhana

Assistant Professor, Department of Religion, Emory College of Arts and Sciences

What insights does the study of Pentecostalism in a local community in Mozambique provide us about the relationship between African epistemologies and the future of the practice and study of Pentecostalism? Read Dr. Devaka Premawardhana’s Faith in Flux: Pentecostalism and Mobility in Rural Mozambique and follow him on Twitter to learn more.

Dr. Dianne Marie Stewart

Associate Professor of Religion and African American Studies, Emory University

How has white supremacy, across four centuries, made coupling and marriage difficult, delayed or impossible for millions of Black women in the United States? Dr. Dianne M. Stewart’s book, Black Women, Black Love: America’s War on African American Marriage, examines the structural forces at work.

The Rev. Dr. Deanna F. Womack

Associate Professor of History of Religions and Interfaith Studies

What can we learn from Syria about the history of Protestant Christianity in the Middle East? Dr. Deanna Ferree Womack shares some brief answers drawing on her extensive research in World Christianity and Middle Eastern history. Read “Exploring the Overlooked Contributions of Syrian Protestants” drawn from her book Protestants, Gender and the Arab Renaissance in Late Ottoman Syria.

Sample Courses

The following provides a representative sampling of the nature and scope of courses offered as part of the program. Please see the MDiv Concentrations page for a complete list of courses that meet the program's criteria.

HC 509 The Making of Global Christianity (Hanciles)

Christianity was a demonstrably global faith (with its center of gravity in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East) before it became a predominantly Western religion (c. 1500). Now, after roughly five centuries, it has once again reemerged as a hugely non-Western phenomenon. A full historical account reveals a faith that is inherently global because it is ultimately local and therefore never fully defined by any historic phase or context. This course provides an exploration of Christianity’s 2,000 year history with a primary focus on the processes of cross-cultural transmission and the critical elements that have defined the experience and expression of the faith in successive heartlands.

EV/HC/M653 World Evangelism in an Age of Empire (Jones)

From the beginning of the 19th century until the middle of the 20th century, Christians from North America and Europe were involved in a massive effort to conquer and Christianize the world. This course examines the relationship between Western imperial missions and religious missions, noting the ways in which they both conflicted and cooperated in their endeavors. Attention will be given to Indigenous Christians in Asia, Africa and Latin America, whose life, work and witness was crucial in shaping religious responses to imperialism.

WR651 History and Practice of Christian-Muslim Relations (Womack)

This course introduces students to the history of Christian-Muslim relations from the early Islamic period to present and acquaints them with recent initiatives for interfaith dialogue. Attention is given to multiple global contexts and to the cultural and theological diversity of both Islam and Christianity. Topics of discussion include Arab Christianity at the rise of Islam, Christian-Muslim-Jewish convivencia in medieval Spain, Western views of Islam during the Reformation, women in Christian-Muslim encounters, and the impact of modern missions upon Christian-Muslim relations. Students will also study Christian-Muslim dialogue initiatives since the mid-twentieth century and will develop their own approaches to Christian-Muslim engagement through a significant research project.

ST652 Global Feminist Theologies (McDougall)

This course introduces students to global Christian feminist theology through an in depth study of feminist/women’s theological movements from different regions of the Global South and their respective theological movements in the US. We will address key theological concerns of Global South feminist movements, in particular theological anthropology (e.g., women’s identity, agency, and attitudes toward the body); the gendered nature of sin, suffering, and redemption; pneumatology and Indigenous spiritual traditions. In addition, we will grapple with the major social and gender justice concerns of these feminist/women’s movements, in particular, gender-based violence, sex trafficking, women’s poverty, and sexist institutions and practices in the church and wider society.

HC 662 Pacific Crossings: Religion, Race and Encounter (Kim)

“The United States is equally an Atlantic as well as a Pacific civilization,” writes historian Gary Okihiro. In this history seminar, we will cast our eyes toward the U.S. engagement with the Pacific, using the lens of the “religious” and the “secular,” to address questions such as: 1) Why did American missionaries target Asia-Pacific, and to what effect? 2) What does U.S. empire-building in Asia-Pacific have to do with Jim Crow racism and Cold War/Civil Rights? 3) How did Asian religious practices like mindfulness become American and Christianity become Asian or Asian American? We will employ innovative historical methods in transnationalism and world Christianity as well as use the critical methods of investigating empire and Orientalism, to understand the global context of U.S. religions, the dynamics of U.S. and Asia-Pacific encounter, and the history of religion, race and Asia/Asian America. We will engage discussions related but not limited to transpacific studies, world Christianity, American religious history and Asian American religious studies.

ST698 U.S. Latino/a Theologies (Alonso)

This course offers a survey of key themes and sources in U.S. Latina/o/x theologies. We will constructively evaluate distinctive methods and approaches that have emerged from Latino/a/x theologians over the last several decades: lo cotidiano (daily life as a source of theological reflection), the centrality of popular religion, liberation theologies, teología en conjunto (doing theology in community), and mujerista theology. We will be particularly attentive to the ways in which these methods and approaches are used to critique and deepen reflection on enduring questions in systematic theology: Christology, soteriology, liturgical/sacramental theology, ecclesiology, and more. And we will discern the practical implications, possibilities, and limitations of this work for ecclesial and academic contexts.

WR 698 African Religions (Premawardhana)

This course will explore the multiple expressions of religiosity in Africa and use those explorations to deconstruct ethnocentric assumptions that have long stood in the way of understanding African societies in their own contexts and on their own terms. We will critically examine how a long history of Euro-American interactions with Africans—attempts to colonize them, to “civilize” them, to convert them, to “develop” them, and even to know them—have regularly failed to account for the experiences and perceptions of Africans themselves, thereby serving to exacerbate global inequality even when the purported aim is to reduce it. Given the holistic qualities of African religiosity, multiple disciplines and methods will inform our study: historical, anthropological, philosophical, theological, and literary.

WR 640 Religions of Atlanta (Marquardt)

This course will explore Atlanta’s religious history and extraordinary religious diversity to develop a complex understanding of what religion is and where it can be found. The course also will prepare students to build a solid foundation for interreligious dialogue and collaboration.

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Frequent Asked Questions

As a student being trained to minister and lead within a variety of global communities of faith, a concentration in world Christianity will train you in the study of Christianity as a faith present throughout the world. You will acquire increased understanding of cross-cultural, cross-racial, interreligious, and global dimensions of Christian life and practice as you cultivate your leadership and pastoral skills in service to the church. You will also have opportunity to reflect on the intercultural dimensions of pastoral care, preaching, religious education, and justice and service in your ministry context.

Fun fact: Did you know that Korean is the most commonly spoken language other than English and Spanish in Georgia, Virginia, and Alabama?

Pitts Theology Library offers a robust collection of resources available to divinity students and advanced researchers interested in the study of world Christianity. Its holdings are particularly strong in African religious history and theology. Check out more at the following research guide and special collections information!

Emory University is home to one of the most extensive interdisciplinary faculty in the study of world Christianity and related fields across Candler School of Theology and the Department of Religion. You can study American religious history through a transnational lens, bringing attention to dynamic and cross-pollinated Christian movements that span the Pacific and Atlantic worlds over the last five centuries. Or, you can focus your doctoral preparation in any number of regional areas, including South and Southeast Asia, Africa, or Latin America in the fields of history, theology, and anthropology. In addition to Candler and the Department of Religion, reach further afield in Latin American Studies, African American Studies, the Institute of African Studies, or any number of language study programs, for example, to sharpen your intellectual inquiry and engage with masters and doctoral students across Emory’s Laney Graduate School. If your area of study is ethics or public health, Emory offers numerous avenues for bringing world Christianity approaches to bear on the study of today’s most pressing global concerns.

Student Perspectives

2021 Candler graduate Victoria ShenVictoria Shen 21T, Doctoral student, Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University

How did your study of World Christianity at Candler contribute to your current area of study as a doctoral student?

Although I am a Taiwanese Christian, due to the unique political and religious trauma of the whole society, I had limited knowledge about Taiwanese and Chinese Christianity when I first arrived at Candler. Candler’s faculty and my fellow classmates, however, encouraged me to reflect and to learn Taiwanese and Chinese Christian history, which inspired me to focus my research on East Asian Christian political activism. Moreover, Candler’s and Emory’s long devotion to advocacy and support for the oppressed deeply influenced my research and helped me to investigate Taiwanese Christian’s dedication to the democratization of society. Therefore, Candler’s study encouraged me to devote myself to continue researching East Asian Christian political activism and its relationship with democracy in my doctoral study in Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion.

2021 Candler graduate Christy Eubank

Christy Eubank 21T
Christy served as the Candler Student Representative on the World Christianity Program Advisory Board for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Why is studying Christianity through a global perspective important for the practice of ministry? What have you gained by studying World Christianity at Candler?

One of the great fallacies common to so many American Christians is to think our interpretation of scripture translates exactly the same across all cultures. This can create unintentional divides among individuals of the same faith. Studying World Christianity pushes students to think outside this kind of American box. It gives you a glimpse into other cultures and how communities have at times embraced Christian movements and at other times struggled with Christianity. Through my studies in Candler’s World Christianity program, my MDiv experience has been profoundly enriched by learning with some of the best professors from all over the world. They not only teach us what theologians have studied and written, but they also share their own experiences and stories that deepen our learning experience.

2021 Candler graduate Ellis AdlerEllis Adler 21T 21L

How has your study of World Christianity at Candler contributed to your ongoing intellectual and vocational formation? 

Learning about how Christianity spread around the world has led me to think deeply about what the universal message of the Gospel is that can translate into such a variety of cultures, times, and contexts. I have learned how Christianity has been used to advance love throughout the world, and also how it has been manipulated to oppress marginalized communities. Seeing how Christianity can be used to empower minority groups to usurp their oppressors that have manipulated the Christian message to gain power has sparked my interest in Christian movements led by oppressed groups, such as the Antonian Movement which was an Indigenous Christian movement led single handedly by a woman who sought to respond to the oppressive practices of seventeenth century Iberian Catholicism in the central African Kingdom of Kongo. In addition, studying World Christianity is important to one’s spiritual formation because it gives insights into what the universal message of the Gospel is that has the unique ability to be translated into a diversity of cultures, times and contexts. Through the study of world Christianity you will grow in your faith and your understanding of what it means to be a Christian in a global context.

2018 Candler graduate Tala alRahebTala al-Raheb 18T, Doctoral student, Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University

How did your study of World Christianity at Candler contribute to your current area of study as a doctoral student?

Reading literature on Christianity in the Middle East with Dr. Womack during my studies at Candler, I started to notice that Palestine was underrepresented, especially seeing as it’s the birth place of Christianity. Furthermore, the voices of women were almost nonexistent, which prompted me to write a thesis on Christian women in Palestine, and the methodologies needed to study their realities. I continue to be committed as a doctoral student in Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion to give a place and space for the voices of Palestinian Christian women and to contribute to the study of World Christianity as a native Palestinian Christian.