The Student Undergraduate Research Festival (SURF) will host its keynote speaker on Thursday, April 27, 2023 at 7 p.m. in the Simperman Hall Wiegand Amphitheatre. Dr. Patricia Christian will be presenting on Researching Megachurches in the Global South: Interdisciplinary approaches to World Christianity.
About the Keynote Address
Dr. Christian's Keynote SURF presentation will cover global Christianity today, megachurches - historically and today in the US and globally, what factors have contributed to their growth ad whether that growth will continue, and the enormous variation among megachurches globally. She will also cover the research process (working with an interdisciplinary and international team of researchers), plus, what happens to plans for social science field research (surveys, in-depth interviewing, participant observation) when a global pandemic shuts down the world. Serendipitously, the pandemic allowed Dr. Christian to add COVID as a research question: how do members of megachurches understand the pandemic theologically? How has it impacted their faith life?
About Dr. Patricia Christian
Dr. Christian is an adjunct professor in the Sociology program at Carroll College. She majored in anthropology with an economics minor at Wellesley College, then pursued her Ph.D. in sociology at Brown University where she concentrated on demography and urban sociology.
After teaching for 24 years at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, where she taught a wide variety of courses, Dr. Christian moved to Helena in 2014 with her husband where she has enjoyed teaching as an adjunct for the Carroll College sociology department, including courses on the family and gender, as well as research methods, urban sociology, and social problems.
Dr. Christian came into the study of religion by taking students on academic trips with a colleague from the religious studies department and collaborated with his research on the rise of Protestantism in El Salvador. The megachurch project grew out of that research, broadening to include 17 megachurches (very large Protestant congregations) in nine countries in three continents - Latin America, Africa, and Asia.