The legacy of Christian mission seems beyond dispute. Western churches carried imperialist and racist assumptions as they evangelized and encouraged the formation of indigenous churches. Amid those realities a different sensibility took root. As the history of Virginia Theological Seminary illustrates, missionaries who were alumni adapted to contextual circumstances in ways that challenged Western presumptions. Mission encouraged cosmopolitan ties featuring mutuality and reciprocity. The path to such relations was not straight nor always readily taken. Yet, over the seminary's two-hundred-year history, the cosmopolitan direction has become evident on several continents. As missionaries came home, and leaders and students from abroad visited the seminary, the ideal of cosmopolitan relations spread. It became evident as mission churches took indigenous form and control. It was reinforced as Western churches explored the dimensions of social justice. American theological education affirmed the reality of diversity and recast its pedagogies in appreciative ways. This book traces an epic shift in mission and theological education measured by the rise of cosmopolitanism in the life of Virginia Theological Seminary.
William L. Sachs is an author, teacher, and Episcopal priest. He has written or edited ten books and over two hundred articles, chapters, reviews, and essays. He serves a consultant and board member to various religious and nonprofit organizations. He lives in Richmond, Virginia. Wanjiru M. Gitau is assistant professor of world Christianity at Palm Beach Atlantic University. She lives in West Palm Beach, Florida.