Dear IAMS Colleagues:
Warm greetings to each of you at the dawn of a new year! Each year at approximately this time, for the duration of my sojourn as president, I plan to write a general letter updating members on the year past, and providing information on what lies ahead as we move toward the quadrennial meeting now scheduled to be in Toronto from August 5 – 12, 2012. There is a small chance that this date could be moved forward by one week, but the recently constituted hosting committee in Toronto has assured us that these dates will work. So please mark these dates in your calendar! At a later time–probably sometime in early 2011–you will be introduced to the members of this committee, destined to play a significant role in the planning and implementing of the event.
The theme, while not yet finessed (this process will begin later this year), will be: “Human Migration, Human Dislocation, and Christian Mission.” Toronto is an ideal venue for a scholarly missiological consultation on such a theme, given the concentration, numbers, and diversity of immigrant groups in the city. A recent study by National Geographic noted that Toronto is one of the few cities in the Western hemisphere with more than 30 linguistically / ethnically distinct first generation immigrant groups exceeding 10,000 in number. Lower the 10,000 number, and the diversity of culturally and linguistically distinct groups goes up almost exponentially. Added to this, Toronto’s churches, across the eccelesiastical spectrum, are deeply engaged with these groups, and will be a rich resource for us. More on this in later communications!
As we look on the months that have passed since the Lake Balaton assembly, when the mantle of the 2004-08 executive was passed to the 2008-12 executive, we have much for which to give thanks. Consider:
1. The Secretariat office has been relocated from Nijmegen to Oxford, and is functioning smoothly and efficiently, thanks to the cooperation and hard work of all involved. We give special thanks to the Nijmegen Institute for hosting the secretariat for so many years, providing infrastructure and institutional and clerical support, as needed. This was an immense gift, for which IAMS can make no adequate compensation. But we can remember, and record this memory for posterity. We must also be grateful to the Church Mission Society in Oxford for agreeing to become the new home of the Secretariat, and for seconding Cathy Ross and her colleague, Berdine van den Toren, to this work. The IAMS web site is fully functional, thanks to the technical skills of their colleagues, and we should all be grateful! I should also mention with appreciation the contribution made by the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, where David Singh is encouraged and facilitated in his role as our Treasurer.
2. Although the Lake Balaton Assembly was a great success by virtually every measure, because of the vagaries of fluctuating exchange rates and the unprecedented number of full sponsorships required by delegates, IAMS coffers were reduced to dangerously low levels. This necessitated severe cuts to our operating budget, a series of appeals to members and ancialiary institutions for financial support, and negotiations with our creditors to give us time to pay our very substantial debts. I am delighted to report that IAMS finances are beginning to look healthy once again. Although more funds must still be raised, and members (both individual and institutional) are urged to contribute as they are able, we are no longer in as desperate a condition as we were just a few months ago.
3. As a cost-saving measure, our executive has not been meeting face-to-face, but by Skype and by telephone conference. This means that we have been able to operate on a fiscal shoestring. OMSC has been covering the cost of these teleconferences, and will continue to do so. We will continue this practice throughout 2010. Furthermore, we have tried to save money on international travel by having members of the executive who are closer to Canada (Paul Kollman and Jon Bonk) travel to Toronto to meet with the hosting committee. It is much less expensive to get to Toronto from the US than it is from the UK. OMSC has also covered my costs as a contribution to IAMS, so that my time, travel, and hotel expenses have cost IAMS nothing.
4. As another cost saving measure, IAMS will not be paying the costs of two of its three delegates to the Edinburgh 2010 meeting in June. Cathy Ross and I will have our expenses covered, so that IAMS will be required only to subsidize the registration expenses of David Singh, who will not require the expense of an international air ticket.
5. Dr. Gerald Anderson is working steadily on the History of IAMS, commissioned by the Executive. We hope that he will make good headway on this project this summer, so that it will be published well in time for the 2012 assembly.
6. We are pleased to welcome 48 new members to our ranks. Since we had our conference in Lake Balaton in August 2008, the following have been nominated and voted into IAMS membership: In January 2009: James Haire; Mark Laing; Benjamin Simon; DanielK. Zau Nan.
In September 2009: Kehinde Akodu; Nicole Ashwood; Moussa Bongoyok; John Corrie; Colin Edwards; Eya Regina; David Fenrick; Charles J. Fensham; Colin Godwin; William Gregory; Benjamin Hartley; Robert Heaney; Sharon Heaney; John Kaoma Kafwanka; Blateiskehm Nongbri; Gun Ho Lee; Esther Mombo; Catherine M. Mooney; Theresa Ofoegbu; Nkechinyere Onah; Mark Oxbrow; Janice Price; Ambrose Puthenveettil; Lawsanga Ralte;Vinoth Ramachandra; Maiko Saneta; Colin Smith; Stephen Spencer; Eiko Takamizawa; Dorothy Ucheaga; Patricia Nkechi Uzoegwu; Cosmas Uzowulu; Terry Veling; Nicholas Wood.
In January 2010: Ben Edson; Samuel Ezeudu; Christopher Flanders; Andrew Kinsey; Gwamaka Ephraim Mwankenja; Enkh-Amgalan Engkeh Purevdori; Susan Rakoczy; Jaakko Rusama; Simon Steer; United Evangelical Mission (institutional member)
7. I would like to ask that you keep your membership current. You can now see your financial status at the top of your personal profile on the IAMS website, after you have logged in. An automated reminder message will be sent out at the beginning of each year, for that year, with two other monthly reminders to follow. If you have failed to pay your membership for three successive years, your name has already been moved to the “former members” list; if you paid late in 2009, that covers your membership dues for that year only; you will be asked to pay again for 2010, and then for 2011, and for 2012, etc. We will continue to seek donations and sponsors so that we can be assured that the 2012 conference in Toronto is as richly diverse as it should be. (Incidentally, Brill, the publisher of our journal Mission Studies, has informed us that there has been a hold-up in their warehouse with the second journal for 2009. It will be coming.)
8. The Study Groups are not uniformly active, and we have not received word from regional groups for some time. Please know that when the time comes to allocate travel subsidies to applicants from off this continent to attend the quadrennial conference in Toronto, priority will be given to those who have been actively involved in IAMS-related study and regional groups, whose membership dues have been paid and are current.
9. I hope that you are utilizing the IAMS Web site: http://www.missionstudies.org/ If not, why not take a tour? I think you will be pleasantly surprised! And please give us feedback on how we might improve the site, to make it even more useful.
10. For 2010, the Executive Committee will continue to conduct its meetings via teleconference. This is not easy to manage, since we are scattered across the globe, and a convenient time for one person means an extremely inconvenient time for another. But all executive members have borne such frustrations with grace and good humor.
11. Finally, a word of explanation regarding the belated official letters of acknowledgment that are sent by the General Secretary to those of you who have made donations to IAMS is in order. WorldPay–the company that handles all of our credit card transactions–does not submit the information to us until the amount of money in the account reaches EURO 4.000.a specified level.
In conclusion, let me convey my thanks to the entire executive. You can find their photo’s and contact details on the IAMS website, under “People”.
I think this is probably enough information for one letter! Please feel free to contact any member of the Executive for any reason at all–but especially if you have a word of advice or encouragement, a nomination for membership, or knowledge of a potential financial benefactor.
Grace and peace to you in the year ahead!
IAMS President 2008-2012
Jonathan J. Bonk, PhD.
Executive Director: Overseas Ministries Study Center
Editor: International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Project Director: Dictionary of African Christian Biography
President: International Association for Mission Studies
490 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Tel: 203-624-6672 (ext. 311); 203-285-1561 (direct)
US Cell: 203-675-8118
Skype: 203-599-1829 / bonkskype