This volume has grown out of a conference held in Paris in April 1997. It was the last of a series of three on the theme of ‘The Rise and Decline of Christendom in Western Europe’, organised by the History Group of the Missiology of Western Culture Project. The Group comprised Dr Neal Blough (Paris), Dr Alan Kreider (then Oxford), Prof. Hugh McLeod, and Prof. Werner Ustorf (both Birmingham). A. Kreider (ed.), The Origins of Christendom in the West (Edinburgh and New York: T&T Clark, 2001) was the result of the first of these conferences. The second focused on the period of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation.
The Missiology of Western Culture Project (1992–1997) was an ecumenical attempt by western missiologists to mobilise the thinking of specialists in a variety of disciplines about the interplay of the Christian message and churches with the culture of the contemporary west. Subsidised by substantial grants, notably from the Pew Charitable Trust (Philadelphia), the project sponsored study groups in seven areas (the arts, ecclesiology, epistemology, social structures and systems, history, the individual, and health and healing), and each group organised its own study processes and colloquia. The Project ended with the groups sharing their findings with each other in September 1997 in a major international consultation at the Bon Secours Center, Marriottsville, Maryland, USA. Their learnings are gradually appearing in print.