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Speaker at the Society for Pentecostal Studies
It was a joy and honor to be invited to be a plenary speaker at the Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS). I am so grateful to Dr. Sammy Alfaro, who is the President of SPS for this kind invitation and for his fantastic leadership and hospitality at the conference. I am also thankful to Dr. Adrian Hinkle who is the ED of SPS for her leadership and vision.
I got to meet a lot of interesting people who are doing fantastic research in Pentecostal studies. I met some old friends, made some new friends and I even met my Ph.D. classmate, Dr. Peter Althouse. The conference was a great reunion of sorts and I really enjoyed my time at SPS.
I gave my plenary talk based on my book, Reimagining Spirit. The Spirit presents itself to many as an enigma. Its existence is mysterious and complex, generating misunderstandings and unawareness of its true purpose. The Spirit’s ambiguous nature opens the opportunity for study to unearth the exciting truths that it holds.
I shared how we can come to know the Spirit as wind, breath, light and vibration to help us uncover some of its aspects that invite us to work for climate justice, racial justice, and gender justice. The Holy Spirit has always been a mover and shaker of ideas and action. The Spirit’s presence moves, stirs, and changes us to become aware of the social ills in our world.
The Asian concept of Chi is helpful to our Christian understanding of the Spirit as we live in a globalized world and collide with those of different ethnicities and religions. The concept of Chi reinforces how the Spirit of God is within us all. Scriptures reminds us of this as it says, “I will pour our my Spirit upon all people” (Joel 2:28).
Dr. Ekaputra Tupamahu is an Assistant Professor of New Testament at Portland Seminary and was the second plenary speaker at SPS. His lecture expanded our Biblical reading and understanding of missionary work. He stated, "To be clear, the word 'missionary' is not used in the book of Acts at all. "Missionary" is, therefore, an external framework employed by white Pentecostal thinkers in order to make sense of what is happening in the book of Acts—and I would add in order to justify their missionary works. The data that they see in the book of Acts are then interpreted from this particular lens. So when they look into the book of Acts, they see themselves and they see their missionaries in that story."
He continued his talk by stating, "Reading from a migration point of view would center the story of the people at the margin, the colonized people, instead of the organized, fully funded movement of a group of preachers from the center of the geopolitical power to distant places."
He challenged us in our reading of Acts. Dr. Tupamahu share, "The Spirit of Pentecost gives us a model for multicultural exchanges in a world filled with immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. People who come from diverse linguistic backgrounds are not forced to speak the dominant tongue. This is not a story of the unity of language. Instead, Acts 2:4 signifies the work of the Spirit to diversify languages and intersect them. The Spirit gives the ability to people to speak and understand different languages."
We need diverse voices at the table and I am so grateful to Dr. Alfaro for inviting minoritized voices to speak at this year’s Society for Pentecostal Studies on the theme of “In our own tongues: Amplifying Pentecostalism's Minoritized Voices”. I have learned a lot from Dr. Tupamahu and other participants at this conference. I hope that our plenary talks will be helpful to those who attended.
Dean Edwin Aponte’s installation service as the 14th Dean of Drew Theological School and a symposium, "Draw the Circle Wide". Panelists: Edwin David Aponte, Stacey Floyd-Thomas, Miguel A. De La Torre and myself; and moderated by Rev. Dr. Althea Spencer-Miller. All are welcome.
1. Join Homebrewed Christianity’s online class The Easter Stories. It is free, but donations are most welcomed.
2. I am returning to the Wild Goose Festival. Please join me and use “Madang” discount code to get 50.00 off Registration.