Quest for Peace: An Ecumenical History of the Church in Lesotho

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Quest for Peace: An Ecumenical History of the Church in Lesotho. By Craig W. Hinks. Morija, Lesotho: The Heads of Churches in Lesotho and the Christian Council of Lesotho, 2009. Pp. xx, 1,084. $55.

This is an extraordinary book by any measure. Comprising nearly eleven hundred double-column pages, to my knowledge nothing quite like it has ever been published in Africa about Christianity in a particular country - in this case, Lesotho. It is one tangible result of a farseeing project conceived in the mid-1980s, when both the country and its churches were convulsed by bitter ethnic, political, and ecclesiastical confusion, suspicion, misrepresentation, and outright conflict. The idea was to engage a neutral but informed outsider to write a short popular history of peacemaking efforts by church leaders between 1970 and 1985. This, it was hoped, would serve as a counternarrative to the more sensational stories that so easily capture the news, co-opt our Christian memories, and spawn mistrust and confusion. The result was an impressively comprehensive volume that references 175 years of Lesotho denominational and nondenominational history.

Researched and published with the full cooperation and encouragement of church leaders, this volume will do more to foster a sense of shared identity and common cause among Lesotho's Christians (75 percent of the total population) than anything else conceivable. Replete with pictures, maps, and tables, each of the book's seventeen chapters includes both a study guide and an action guide tailored for use by individuals, small groups, and entire congregations. …