It’s been a busy first week of class here at Bethel, so I’m going to postpone my two posts on museums until next week. But before we wrap up the week, let me pass along a few more details about the Pietism colloquium (Friday, April 20) that I’m coordinating with my colleague Christian Collins Winn. If you’re just hearing about this event for the first time, please see our original announcement, plus announcements about the keynote address by Scot McKnight and the afternoon roundtable discussion on Pietism and contemporary churches and denominations.
Today, a bit more about our second speaker, who will give his presentation after lunch and before the roundtable session:
Jon Sensbach (PhD, Duke University) is professor of history at the University of Florida, where he’s taught since 1998. A former NEH fellow and postdoctoral fellow, Jon teaches courses on colonial America, the American Revolution, the Atlantic slave trade, and the Black Atlantic, and he is currently researching religion and race in the early South. His first book, A Separate Canaan (University of North Carolina Press), examined the intersections of race, slavery, and religion among white and black Moravians in colonial North Carolina. His second book, Rebecca’s Revival (Harvard University Press), will be the jumping-off point for his talk at our colloquium: “Rebecca’s Trial: A Story of Pietism and Race in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World.”
The book tells the remarkable story of Rebecca Protten, a freed slave who in the mid-18th century became a Moravian evangelist on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas (eventually traveling to Germany and West Africa as well). While the revival that she led serves, for Jon, as “the model for the spread of evangelical religion through New World slave communities,” Rebecca encountered numerous challenges as a black woman (married, until his death, to a German Moravian) navigating the complexities of the Atlantic world. After introducing her unique story, Jon will explore some of its broader implications for our understanding of the history of Pietism.
Jon’s talk and the rest of the colloquium are free and open to the public (though we’ll ask those staying for lunch to register in advance). If you’re interested in attending, please e-mail me and I’ll add you to our mailing list.