Dr. Ogbu Kalu passes away suddenly


kaluogbuDr. Ogbu U. Kalu (1942-2009) passed away on Wednesday, January 7, 2009, at age 66 from complications from pneumonia. He had served as a faculty member at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago since 2001. He also served as the director of the Center for Global Ministry. Dr. Kalu is respected internationally for his scholarship and church leadership, and his death is a great loss to many around the world.

Kalu had been a member of the Society for Pentecostal Studies for several years and was a prominent scholar of Pentecostalism in Africa. At the time of his death he was the Henry Winters Luce Professor of World Christianity and Mission at McCormick Theological Seminary.

Kalu came to McCormick in 2001 from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he had served as Professor of Church History for over 25 years. Holding an M.Div. from Princeton and a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, he became a visiting professor at several institutions, including Harvard, University of Bayreuth, University of Toronto, McGill University, University of Edinburgh, University of Pretoria, and the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Seoul.

He authored or edited 16 books, including Power, Poverty and Prayer: The Challenges of Poverty and Pluralism in African Christianity, 1960-1996, History of the Church in the Third World: Vol. III, and African Christianity: An African Story. He also edited and published more than 150 articles in journals and books. In October 2008, Dr. Kalu was honored at the 26th Annual meeting for the Association of Third World Studies as one of two winners of the Toyin Falola Award for the best book on Africa published during 2007-2008. This was for his most recent book, African Pentecostalism: An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Dr. Kalu was not only a world-class scholar but also a man of deep Christian faith and conviction. He served as an elder in the Presbyterian Church in his home country of Nigeria. He also held various national leadership positions in the denomination including membership on the General Assembly Board of Faith and Order. As a resident of Chicago, Dr. Kalu was a member of Progressive Community Center – The People’s Church, where he worshiped regularly and taught adult education classes

Dr. Ogbu is survived by his wife, Dr. Wilhelmina J. Kalu, and four children.

For additional information, see Kalu’s bio and memorial at the McCormick website.

Posted by Glenn Gohr

14 Comments

Filed under News

14 responses to “Dr. Ogbu Kalu passes away suddenly

  1. Chinedu Mba ( nee Afigbo)

    “Uncle Ogbu” as he was known to my siblings & me touched our lives in ways difficult to capture in words.Suffice it to say that he will always be remembered fondly for his wisdom,cheerfulness,and genuine friendhip to our family.

  2. Francoise Ugochukwu

    just learnt from kids that Prof. Kalu passed away. I knew him well, as we were together for many years at UNN, and were both neighbours and attending the same church. I left UNN in 1996 to resettle in Britain with my family. I am sorry to hear he left. Extend my condolences to his wife.

  3. Sister Bella

    I met Dr. Kalu at the Doctoral defense of my friend and he was one of the members of his dissertation committee. Within those few hours we spent together, I came to respect, admire and treasure Dr. Kalu’s wisdom, faith and exuberant personality. I am shocked to learn of his death. It is a big loss. May he rest in perfect peace. I will keep his family in my prayers.

  4. Dr Ogbu Kalu is arguably the greatest Igbo historian of Church history in the last two decades and a towering defender of the rationality and validity of an African Christianity whose globality is not restricted by its local sources and concerns. This great advocate for an African Christianity that embraces the African condition in its ambiguity and tensions; this great servant of God and theological pathfinder died in his prime. We are comforted that you left us so many works whose richness will be discovered by some of your young disciples present and future. Ezigbo nwa afor Igbo, daalu!

  5. John Taiwo

    Adieu my Prof! Just don’t ask me how I feel, because I am still hallucinating.

  6. Maggie

    I never knew Dr. Kalu in his lifetime. I just met him for the first time this last August I came across his articles in the book he edited, African Christianity. He made an immediate and profound impression on me that completely changed to tone of research I’m currently working on, on African Christianity. I have hunted our library for all the books and articles I can find by him. I was on the web to find more when stumbled on this note of his passing away. Aah, what a terrible loss to African Christianity.

  7. Jeremy Rich

    I am very belatedly sharing my sadness at learning of Dr. Kalu’s death. His book African Pentecostalism is a stunning, trenchant work. Indeed, a brilliant voice was lost to us.

  8. Favor Asonye

    Dr Ogbu was working on my late father’s biography. Rev Augusutus Asonye as one of the fathers of Pentecostalism in Nigeria. i would like to follow up on this work. What a los of a great Icon indeed.

  9. Jacqueline

    Dr Kalu taught me African church history in 1997 while he was teaching at Emmanuel College, Univeristy of Toronto. He was an amazing and inspiriting teacher who sparked my interest in African Christianity and renewed my faith in Jesus Christ. May his soul rest in peace, good and faithful servant

  10. Jac Daley

    I would like a copy of African Christianity: An Introduction. I was told by my local bookstore that they are out of print. This is most unfortunate, this is the time when we need great work/thinking to exist as a legacy of Dr Kalu’s contribution to scholarship.

  11. Alan Argent

    I knew Ogbu in London in the early 1970s when we were both graduate students. He was a neat, dapper, athletic figure – light and lively. He was doing a PhD on Puritanism in Jacobean Essex and was attending Regent’s Square United Reformed Church where my friend, Daniel Jenkins was the minister. Ogbu gave me good advice about my own studies and his acute intelligence and fine pastoral heart were both obvious. He also told me of the experiences of Wilhelmina and himself in leaving Lagos when the Biafran war was raging and soldiers in Lagos were allowed too much licence. I lost contact with him when the family left the UK but from time to time his name has appeared in print and memories flood back. It was good to know his faith and scholarship were making a positive difference to our world. I am grateful for his friendship and send Wilhelmina and their children my sincere condolences and want to assure them that he was admired and loved more than they may know. God bless you.

  12. Tony okoro

    May the soul of prof.ogbu kalu rest in peace .he was my lecturer in unn .

  13. Ileagu Ebuka Jude

    What an immense loss to Africa in particular and the whole world in general.I never knew proffesor Ogbu kalu in his life time but heard of him through my lecturer who presented him as a great scholar.Sir,your departure has created great vaccum which will be very hard to be filled up.You are an eludite.You are more than the classical scholars.I have longed to meet you face to face.Adieu,my Proffessor.Adieu an eludite.Adieu,my great scholar.I urge the wife,the children and his well wishers to please accept my condolence.

  14. Okpara E. Inworogu

    I met Prof. Kalu during my Ph. D. in New Testament at UNN (1995-2000). Even though I wasn’t in Church History, I stole into 3 or 4 of his lectures and was always quite inspired by his erudition and breathe of scholarship that I always treasured sharing with him the work I was doing for the insight he would always add to it. I was at his funeral and ever since then have always mourned the great loss his passing on has been to African, nay, world Christianity..

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