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Scherer Lecture looks at influence of Christian missionaries in 20th century Sudan

Posted Jan 18, 2012

European and North American missionaries working along the length of the Nile Valley, from the Mediterranean city of Alexandria to the Sudan’s southern border in the 20th century gained few converts. Yet they exerted far-reaching and diverse influences on Nile Valley societies by opening the first modern schools, promoting the engagement of women in religious and public life, stimulating new forms of Muslim oppositional activism, and, in southern Sudan, sowing seeds for future mass conversions.

In the Scherer Lecture on Tuesday, February 21, at 4:00 p.m., Dr. Heather J. Sharkey will trace these influences as they persist today, in the aftermath of Egypt’s Arab Spring and the break-up of Sudan following the South’s secession.  She will consider how Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Copts have articulated and asserted their Christian identities and will assess prospects for Christian-Muslim relations at a time when religious sectarianism carries a political charge in Egypt, Sudan, and South Sudan.

The lecture is free. A reception immediately follows the lecture.

About Dr. Sharkey

Dr. Heather J. Sharkey is an associate professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Living with Colonialism: Nationalism and Culture in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (University of California Press, 2003) and American Evangelicals in Egypt: Missionary Encounters in an Age of Empire (Princeton University Press, 2008).  With Mehmet Ali Do─čan, she edited American Missionaries and the Middle East: Foundational Encounters (University of Utah Press, 2011). She is writing a history of the social relations between Muslims, Christians and Jews in the modern Middle East. Dr. Sharkey holds degrees from Yale, Durham (UK), and Princeton. She has taught at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, MIT, and Trinity College (Connecticut).

The Scherer Lecture

The annual Scherer Lecture addresses aspects of the church’s worldwide mission, missiology, or the life of the world Christian community. It is made possible through the Eleanor and Arnold Scherer Endowment Fund.


Peter Vethanayagamony
Associate Professor of Modern Church History

Jan Boden
Director of Communications

The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago forms visionary leaders to bear witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Its approximately 290 students come from all parts of the United States and from around the world to study in the masters level and advanced studies programs. Graduates become pastors, other church leaders, and university and seminary professors. LSTC is a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a member of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools, allowing students to cross-register among the 12 member seminaries and drawing on a wealth of ecumenical resources. LSTC enjoys a number of cooperative arrangements with the University of Chicago.

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