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January 31, 2011

Research Presentation: Winners and Losers of the Master Strategy to Evangelize the World in One Generation

Join us for a presentation by visiting researcher John Heavens

Monday, 7 March 2011, 12 noon -1pm
Elmer L. Andersen Library Room 120

Light refreshments will be served

During the early decades of the twentieth century, a generation of North American YMCA secretaries dedicated their lives to service in China, achieving a degree of influence upon a rapidly modernizing Chinese society that was out of all proportion to the numbers of men in the field. The watchword, popularized by the YMCAʼs master-strategist and most prolific fund-raiser, John R. Mott, was the ʻevangelization of the world in one generation.ʼ However, by the mid-ʻ20s, the International Committee which coordinated the overseas missions struggled with a series of debilitating financial crises which necessitated the demobilization of men and the termination of programs, so that by 1935, only a handful of secretaries remained in China. This presentation examines why John Mott ʻturned deaf earsʼ to the International Committee during the 1930s and who were the winners and losers of his strategy.

At 47 years of age, John Heavens describes himself as a 'born-again academic,' having spent his working life in the construction industry. At the end of a long haul of self-reinvention, he is now a registered PhD candidate in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge and a member of St John's College. His mission is to understand the role of religion in American responses to modernity and cultural exchange. As part of that broader project, he is initially focusing upon the foreign work in China of the YMCA International Committee, thereby explicating the complex relationship between American liberal progressivism and religious missions.