Dr Meiken Buchholz - Featured Author - EJT (Spring 2021)
Dr Meiken Buchholz is assistant professor of Missiology at the Freie Theologische Hochschule Giessen, Germany, and at Fjellhaug International University College, Oslo, Norway. She regularly visits the China Lutheran Seminary, Taiwan, as guest professor, where she mainly teaches subjects related to biblical studies. Her article on migration in Acts appears in the European Journal of Theology 30.1 (April 2021).
Meiken tells: ‘I grew up near Hamburg in a loving family which was typical for the secular context in northern Germany. Probably this background is one of the reasons why I feel most at home in places where Christians are the minority. When I married the son of the village pastor and we began to study theology together to become missionaries, my decisions were met with little enthusiasm by family and friends.’
‘We enjoyed our time as students in Basel (at the Staatsunabhängige Theologische Hochschule) and at the universities of Erlangen, Hamburg and Tübingen. In Tübingen I graduated with a master’s degree (Mag. Theol.) in 1991, with professor Peter Beyerhaus as my supervisor. It was through him and his familiarity with the Scandinavian context that we got into contact with the Norwegian Lutheran Mission (NLM). After an internship at a church in northern Germany and missiological studies at the NLM’s theological seminary in Oslo, we worked and lived as a family in Taiwan as NLM missionaries from 1993 to 2006. After studying Chinese, I taught parttime different courses in biblical studies at the China Lutheran Seminary where my husband, Armin, was professor of systematic theology. In addition, I was active in different churches, evangelistic programmes, and at the local school of our children, doing everything from baking classes to storytelling and preaching. The challenges of these years confirmed to me my two passions: I am curious about understanding unfamiliar people and about discovering new perspectives in the Bible.’
‘After we returned to Germany, I “professionalized” my curiosity and between 2008 and 2014 I attended a PhD-programme in missiology and religious sociology at the School of Theology and Mission, Stavanger, Norway (now the VID Spezialized University). In my PhD-thesis, which has been published in 2020, I analysed sermons of Chinese pastors in Beijing, with the aim to understand more about the moral identity of contemporary Christians in China in the face of the socio-political challenges they meet. Thanks to the support of my husband and children, I could in addition regularly travel to Taiwan to teach some courses in biblical studies in the MDiv programme of the CLS.’
‘Since 2015 I have been working parttime as associate professor in Missiology and Intercultural Theology at the Freie Theologische Hochschule Giessen, Germany. The other part of my time I continue teaching at the CLS in Taiwan. In 2020 I had the pleasure of joining the team at Fjellhaug International University College in Oslo as associate professor in Missiology. Since then, teaching in Taiwan has been one part of that appointment.’
‘Returning to Germany after many years in another culture was much easier for us because Germany had grown into a multi-cultural country. I quickly became part of an intercultural team of Christians caring for the many refugees in Giessen. To my delight the churches in Taiwan are also increasingly discovering their responsibility for migrant workers. Actually, the impulse for my article in the European Journal of Theology was an invitation by Taiwanese churches to speak on the subject of “Migration and Mission in the Bible” at a conference.’ ‘Privately, I am widowed since 2013 and have two adult children and one grandchild. In my spare time, my greatest pleasure is to walk long and fast, discovering new things on the way.‘