for Writers of Biographies and Christian Histories
In the essential task of documenting the story of African Christianity before it is lost to human memory, the DACB is committed to collecting and preserving: 1) the biographies of African men and women, both lay people and clergy, who have played a significant role in the birth and growth of Christianity over the entire continent, from the time of Jesus to the present and 2) the histories of religious movements, churches, and Christian communities.
Please follow these guidelines when submitting biographies and Christian histories. In composing your article, refer to the guidelines for formatting and content found in our Instructional
Manual (PDF file).
Email all submissions to Michèle Sigg, Project Manager, DACB@BU.edu
Choice of Biographical Subjects
As you choose biographical subjects for your research, please take into account the following guidelines:
1. Subjects whose stories already appear in the
DACB will normally not be considered, unless
the proposed article gives significant new material
and insight. Therefore it is important to consult
the DACB either online or at a DACB
participating institution, to ascertain whether
or not the DACB already has stories on
your proposed subjects.
2. Your subjects need not be confined to professional clerics, missionaries, or theologians, but might include laypersons from various walks of life whose stories are essential to an understanding of the church in Africa.
3. General suggested length: no longer than 3,000 words and no shorter than 500 words.
4. As the intent and purpose of the DACB is to record the history of African Christianity, we ask that you focus on writing the stories of deceased subjects.
5. It is the policy of DACB
NOT to publish the stories of living
subjects. In very few cases, exceptions have been
made if the subjects are (a) of a very venerable
age (over 70) and (b) they have retired from all
active ministry (in other words, their story is
complete). Stories of living subjects will be kept
on file in the DACB office for future use.
for Writing a Biography
In preparing a biographical study for inclusion in the Dictionary,
please insure that your article includes information on as many of the following
categories as possible. The author should integrate this information into an article between 200 and 3000 words long.
1. Given name(s) of
Person. As necessary, provide explanations
of these names.
2. Family names. If there is more than
one spouse, list the children under the
appropriate mother or father.
- Baptismal names
- Kinship names
3. Life Story
- Ethno-linguistic group
- Kinship group
4. Nationality / citizenship
5. Languages, including first, second,
third, fourth, fifth, etc.
6. Church affiliation
- Date or approximate date of birth
- Place of birth: village, city, province,
- Unusual circumstances associated
- Formative experiences, such as illnesses,
personal misfortunes, tragedies, visions,
- Education, degrees (including dates)
- Conversion (including date, if applicable)
- Calling and/or ordination to ministry
- Date or approximate date, place,
and circumstances of death
7. Names, locations, and descriptions
of churches begun or served by the Subject
- Roman Catholic
- Orthodox; Coptic
- Protestant (Conciliar, Evangelical,
- Independent (African initiated, Spiritual,
Pentecostal / charismatic)
8. Ministry details: Where? How
long? What happened? Short term and long
term impact? (Please provide detailed information
wherever possible, including anecdotes,
stories, and hearsay)
9. Continuing influence and significance
of the Subject
10. Publications, reports, writings,
letters, musical compositions, artistic
contributions by the Subject
11. Sources of information about the
- Eyewitness accounts (give names
and addresses of storytellers who are
or were eyewitnesses; include details
of their relationship to the Subject)
- Oral and anecdotal (give names
and addresses of storytellers wherever
possible, and include details of their
relationship to the Subject)
12. Other pertinent information
- Published (include full bibliographic
data wherever possible: book title, author,
publisher, year of publication; title
of chapter within a book, author of the
chapter, title of the book, name of the
editor of the book, full publication data;
title of article in periodical, author
of article, periodical title, date of
periodical, page numbers of article, place
B. Christian Histories
Guidelines for Writing the History of a Religious Movement, Church, or Christian Community
In preparing a history of a religious movement, local church or Christian community, please include as much information as possible in the following categories.
1. Origins, founders, and key personalities
2. Beliefs and practices
- Original founder(s): Life story and call (see Guidelines for Writing a Biography, above)
- Key personalities and their roles in the origins of the movement/church
- Significant events that led to the founding of the movement/ church
- Key dates, milestones
- Writings, sermons, publications
3. Organizational Structure
- Vision and philosophy of the founder
- Central teaching: Main points
- Sacred places
- Role and place of the Bible; of ancient church practices; of traditional religion
- Use of healing and miracles
- Practices: Description, origins, and evolution over time
4. Worship and liturgy
- Who are the leaders? Describe their roles or functions (apostle, deacon, elder, etc.).
- Is there a hierarchy? How are leaders and successors chosen?
- How is the church / movement organized? By committees or otherwise?
- What is the place given to women? To youth?
- Church polity: Is it episcopal, connexional, congregational, presbyterian?
- How have the organization and structure of the church evolved over time?
5. Impact of the movement / church locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally
- Describe the worship service. How many services are there during the week? Explain the different kinds of worship services.
- Languages used in worship.
- Liturgical calendar: What important events are celebrated throughout the week, month, year?
- Creation of music and religious objects, art
- Vestments and religious clothing
- How have the worship and liturgy evolved over time?
6. Sources of information
- Legacy: How has the church /movement impacted society?
- Describe the influence and growth of the church on the local, regional, national, and international level.
- Is the church is related to larger ecclesiastical blocks, such as the WCC, WEA, AACC, OAIC? If so, in what capacity?
7. Other pertinent information
- Eyewitness accounts (give names and addresses of storytellers who are or were eyewitnesses; include details of their relationship to the church/ movement)
- Oral and anecdotal (give names and addresses of storytellers wherever possible, and include details of their relationship to the church / movement)
- Published (include full bibliographic data wherever possible: book title, author, publisher, year of publication; title of chapter within a book, author of the chapter, title of the book, name of the editor of the book, full publication data; title of article in periodical, author of article, periodical title, date of periodical, page numbers of article, place of publication.)
Please submit material intended for the Dictionary
to the address below. For proper credit
to be given to you as a contributor, please
- Your name and address
- Name and address of the church with
which you are affiliated
- Name and address of affiliated educational
institution of mission agency
- Name of individual(s) chiefly responsible
for researching the story of each Subject
- Name and position of the person supervising