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A century ago, 93 percent of the world’s Christians could be found in the Americas and Europe. Today, the area of the world known as the Global South – the nations of Africa, Central and Latin America, and most of Asia – is home to 61 percent of the estimated two billion Christians in the world. By 2050, that percentage is expected to rise to 75 percent. These numbers are foretelling a shift in the “center of gravity” in the Christian world.

To discuss that shift and the implications it will have on global Christianity, the University of South Carolina Upstate has invited noted historian Philip D. Jenkins to lecture on Monday, March 18 at 5 p.m. in the Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom. The free lecture is open to the public, and is part of a series of lectures highlighting issues, trends and schools of thought in world religions.

“Dr. Jenkins will focus on the future of world Christianity as it comes to be dominated by Christian communities in the Global South, and what this means for the Christian communities of Europe and North America,” said Dr. David Damrel, associate professor of religion. “Additionally he will examine the differences in interpretation of the scriptures between the Global North and South, in light of the political systems, poverty, environmental degradation, human and civil rights abuses, ethnic and regional conflicts, hunger, and disease in the Global South countries.”

This lecture will occur coincidentally at the same time the Catholic Church is selecting a new leader and as many are pondering whether the conclave will elect a pope from a Global South country. Amongst Christians in Global South countries, Catholics make up between 34 and 46 percent of the population.

Philip D. Jenkins is the author of the contemporary classics The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (Oxford University Press, 2002) and The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South (Oxford University Press, 2006). With a Ph.D. in history from the University of Cambridge, Jenkins is Emeritus Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Humanities at Pennsylvania State University and Distinguished Professor of History and co-director for the Program on Historical Studies of Religion in the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. Author of over twenty books in history and religious studies, his diverse research interests center around the study of global Christianity, past and present, on new and emerging religious movements, and on twentieth century U.S. history, chiefly post-1975.

Professor Jenkins’ lecture is sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs and the Department of History, Political Science, Philosophy and American Studies at USC Upstate. For more information, contact Dr. David Damrel, associate professor of religion, at (864) 503-5798 or ddamrel@uscupstate.edu.

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