From Times Square to Timbuktu
Wesley Granberg-Michaelson From Times Square to Timbuktu, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2013 £12.99
The argument is quite simple and clearly stated. In the lifetime of most of us reading this, the geographical centre of the Christian Church has shifted to the so called global South but we still try to organise relationships for the world’s Christians round European centres like Geneva or Rome. The statistical centre of gravity for world Christianity is actually Timbuktu.
But you don’t need to go that far to experience the world church. Her members have come to you and may well be sharing your local church premises as congregations from China or Latin America find a spiritual home in New York, London and where any of us may be living. But most us have yet to respond to such global facts and the Christians who embody them.
The book was well advertised on the World Council of Churches’ Assembly website as ‘required’ reading for all delegates to Busan, in South Korea. It will come too late for anyone to persuade the Assembly of November 2013 to move the WCC offices to somewhere in Africa but not too late for us to welcome initiatives like the Global Christian Forum which is reaching out to churches that have previously stood aloof from a Europe-based ecumenical movement and its Europe-centred agenda of issues which reflect the history of the global North, not the South. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson has done his homework and provides lots of detail to support his case. He has long been active in the World Council of Churches and in the Reformed Church in the United States and more recently in support for the Global Forum and other such initiatives. As well as being very challenging, the book is also full of hope for the Christian Church is experiencing amazing growth and showing tremendous joy and faith in countless places and those who come to our towns from faraway places can inspire us all by their exuberant love of the Lord. We can also join them in singing their songs, printed as they now are, in many of our hymn books.
Review by Rev Dr Donald Norwood