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Not Your Father's CFH

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 0:12
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Elesha Coffman


Sixteen years ago, when I was the editor of Christian History magazine and just barely beginning to think about grad school, I attended a Conference on Faith and History biennial meeting out in San Diego. As I recall, I was one of a handful of women (literally, I think I could count them on the fingers of one hand) and a hardly larger contingent of attendees under age 40. I enjoyed the conference, but it didn’t strike me as an event to prioritize in the future.

As we all know, history is the narrative of change over time, and the CFH has definitely changed. This year’s conference theme, “Christian Historians and the Challenges of Race, Gender, and Identity,” attracted an especially diverse roster of presenters and presentations. Not all diversity is evident just from looking at a list of names and institutions, but a glance at the program shows lots of women, grad students, and early career scholars, as well as a promising increase racial and ethnic diversity. The percentage of scholars hailing from the CFH’s traditional base in evangelical colleges, meanwhile, has dropped. This is not the trajectory I thought the organization was on back in 2000, and I’m really, really glad to see it.

Because the conference starts tomorrow, it’s probably too late for any of you who weren’t already planning to attend to stop by. But, if CFH hasn’t been on your radar, I encourage you to look at the program and reconsider for 2018. Like me, you might be pleasantly surprised.

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