Methodism and American Empire

Reflections on Decolonizing the Church

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Published January 2024

Living into a less colonial way of being together.

Methodism and American Empire investigates historical trajectories and theological developments that connect American imperialism since World War II to the Methodist tradition as a global movement. The volume asks: to what extent is United Methodists’ vision of the globe marred by American imperialism? Through historical analyses and theological reflections, this volume chronicles the formation of an understanding of The United Methodist Church since the mid-20th century that is both global and at the same time dominated by American interests and concerns. Methodism and American Empire provides a historical and theological perspective to understand the current context of The United Methodist Church while also raising ecclesiological questions about the impact of imperialism on how Methodists have understood the nature and mission of the church over the last century. Gathering voices and perspectives from around the world, this volume suggests that the project of global Methodism and the tensions one witnesses therein ought to be understood in the context of American imperialism and that such an understanding is critical to the task of continuing to be a global denomination. The volume tells a tale of complex negotiations happening between United Methodists across different national, cultural, and ecclesial contexts and sets up the historical backdrop for the imminent schism of The United Methodist Church.

About the Authors

David W. Scott

David W. Scott is the director of mission theology with the General Board of Global Ministries and a visiting researcher at Boston University Center for Global Christianity & Mission. He previously served as the Pieper Family Chair of Servant Leadership and assistant professor of religion at Ripon College. He has published extensively as an author and contributor to numerous volumes as well as selecting, editing, and writing for the UM & Global blog. He has a PhD in religious studies and an MTS from Boston University.

Filipe Maia

Filipe R. Maia is an assistant professor of theology at the Boston University School of Theology. He also serves as an instructor for the Portuguese Course of Study for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. He is the author of Trading Futures: Toward a Theological Critique of Financialized Capitalism?(Duke University Press, 2022) and editor of Decolonizing Wesleyan Theology: Theological?Engagements from the Underside of Methodism (Cascade Books, 2023). He has a Doctor of Theology degree from Harvard Divinity School and an MTS from Perkins School of Theology.