Opened March 23, 2018
An exhibition curated by Jennifer L. Aycock.
The exhibition Expressions and Encounters: Experiencing the Histories and Theologies of African Christianity in the Collections of Pitts Theology Library provides researchers and students glimpses into a variety of sources currently held at Pitts Theology Library that may be used in analyzing and telling the histories and theologies of Christian communities across Africa.
The exhibition displays periodicals, monographs, sacred texts, missionary correspondence, and church archives selected from Pitts’s African Christianity Collection. The exhibition intentionally reflects the fragmented and disparate nature of the collection developed under the supervision of former Director of Pitts Theology Library Channing Jeschke (1927-2016). In this regard, it is suggestive of the incompleteness of extant textual sources in writing histories of African Christianity. While the exhibition does not present a cohering narrative across every expression or encounter, it does bring African voices into the purview of theological education in North America. Visitors are invited to reflect on the archival silences that require oral histories, the study of material and visual culture, and attention to religious practices to interpret the fragments of history more completely.
The exhibition does trace themes across modern histories of African Christian communities. The work of translation, hymnodic and embodied theologizing, transatlantic religious movements formed independent of Western missionaries. Partnership across cultures and languages. Prophetic calls to resist and counter southern Africa’s regimes of white supremacy. One cannot script the histories of African Christianity without attending to their simultaneous religious, social, and political implications. Thus, the exhibition invites visitors to reflect upon the diversity of contexts and immediate realities that inform the expressions of African Christianity.