Roberta King is associate professor of communication and ethnomusicology in the School of Intercultural Studies. Since coming to Fuller in 2000, she has served as All-Seminary Chapel director and developed a new curriculum for “Ethnomusicology in Mission”—renamed Global Christian Worship (ethnomusicology)—at the MA level, Dr. King is the faculty Practicum Supervisor and also teaches and mentors in the PhD and Doctor of Missiology programs.
After studying music at the undergraduate and graduate levels, King began her missionary career in Kenya at Daystar Communications, now Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya. While there, she recognized the power of music to communicate the gospel profoundly within varying cultural contexts. She directed and led worship at Nairobi Baptist Church and established the Department of Christian Music Communication at Daystar University. King also served for 20 years with WorldVenture, a US-based mission society, working with church leaders in 11 African nations, from Senegal to Madagascar, to develop appropriate songs for communicating the gospel in over 80 different languages.
In addition to her responsibilities at Fuller, King continues outreach to the global church, teaching and holding workshops in Chennai, India; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Nairobi, Kenya; and serving as the Hearn Innovator in Christian Music speaker at Baylor University’s School of Music. Though she teaches such subjects as qualitative research and intercultural communication, her passion is to communicate Christ through a culture’s songs and arts in ways that lead to her ultimate missional goal: to release God’s people, from all nations, to worship Jesus Christ.
King has published Pathways in Christian Music Communication (2009), Music in the Life of the African Church (2008), A Time to Sing: A Manual for the African Church (1999), and contributed chapters to two books. She has also published articles in journals such as Missiology and the Evangelical Missions Quarterly, and is a regular contributor to Worship Leader magazine and EthnoDoxology, the journal of the International Council of Ethnodoxologists, an organization she helped to found and whose Founders and Academic Programs committees she now serves on.
King’s most recent research focuses on “(un)Common Sounds: Songs of Peace and Reconciliation among Muslims and Christians,” the research topic of a 5-year Henry Luce grant to study the contribution of music and the performing arts to sustainable peacebuilding. The first consultation was held in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2009, and another was held in 2010 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. A documentary film, (un)Common Sounds: Songs of Peace and Reconciliation among Muslims and Christians, was selected in the Fall 2013 to air for 90 days on US national television’s American Broadcast Corporation (ABC). The book by the same title, which brings together the work of the 22 scholars who contributed to the project, was published in 2014.
- IS501: Practice of Worship and Prayer
- ME506: Communicating the Gospel Cross-Culturally
- ME510: Christian Communication through Music
- ME513: Global Christian Worship
- ME515: Communicating Christ through Storytelling and Song
- ME518: Exegeting Musical Culture
- ME519: Ethnomusicology: Theory and Analysis
- MI516: Integrated Missiology Practicum
- MR578: Music, Peacebuilding, and Interfaith Dialogue
Areas of Expertise, Research, Writing, and Teaching
Christian ethnomusicology in mission, worship, church music, intercultural communication, qualitative research, spirituality and mission, African music, music and peace-building studies, orality
- Coedited with Sooi Ling Tan. (un)Common Sounds: Songs of Peace and Reconciliation among Muslims and Christians. Art for Faith’s Sake series. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2014.
- Pathways in Christian Music Communication: The Case of the Senufo of Cote d’Ivoire. American Society of Missiology Scholarly Monograph series. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2009.
- Music in the Life of the African Church, King, Kidula, Krabill, and Oduro. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2008. (Convened the group and authored 50% of the text).
- A Time to Sing: A Manual for the African Church. Nairobi: Evangel Publishing House 1999.
- A Senufo Hymnbook, Torhogo, Côte d’Ivoire: Mission Baptiste, 1998.
- “Venturing Out in Developing an Arts Curriculum” and “Musical Bridges in Christian Communication: Lessons for the Church,” in The Ethnodoxology Handbook, Gen. Ed. James Krabill. Pasadena, CA: Pickwick, 2013.
- “Blessed are the Musical Peacemakers,” Theology News and Notes, Spring 2012.
- “Encountering Abraham in Africa: Reflections of an Ethnomusicologist on the Road.” In Conversations at the Edges of Things: Reflections for the Church in Honor of John Goldingay, edited by James Butler and Frances Bridger. Eugene, OR: Pickwick. 2012.
- “Worship, Liturgy, and Culture Driving Revitalization.” In Interpretive Trends in Christian Revitalization for the Early Twenty First Century, edited by J. Steven O’Malley. Lexington: Emeth Press, 2011.
- “Under the Mango Tree: Worship, Song, and Spiritual Transformation in Africa.” In Worship Changes Lives, edited by Alexis Abernathy. Baker Academic. 2009.
- “Negotiating the Gospel Cross-Culturally: The Contribtuions of Intercultural Communication to Missiology.” In Paradigm Shifts in Christian Witness: Insights from Anthropology, Communication, and Spiritual Power, edited by Charles E. Van Engen, Darrell Whiteman, and J. Dudley Woodberry. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2008.
- “Music.” In Global Dictionary of Theology, edited by William Dyrness and Veli-Matti Kårkåinen. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008.
- “Music and Ethnomusicology.” In Encyclopedia of Missions and Missionaries, edited by Jonathan J. Bonk. New York: Routledge, 2007.
- “Singing the Lord’s Song in a Global World,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 42 (January 2006): 68-74.
- “Abraham Goes Senufo: Communicating the Scriptures through Song.” In All the World is Singing: Glorifying God through the Worship Music of the Nations, Tyrone, GA: Authentic Publishing, 2006, pp. 61-68.
- “The Impact of Global Christian Music in Worship.” Theology, News, & Notes, Spring 2006, pp. 6-8.
- “Variations on a Theme of Appropriate Contextualization: Music Lessons from Africa.” In Appropriate Christianity, Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2006, pp. 309-324.
- “Make Known Among the Nations What God Has Done! Communicating Christ through the Arts,” EthnoDoxology 2, no. 4, 2004, pp. 2-6.
- “Toward a Discipline of Christian Ethnomusicology: A Missiological Paradigm,” Missiology 32, no. 3 (July 2004): 293-301.
- “Abraham Goes Senufo,” EthnoDoxology 1, no. 2, 2002, pp. 8-12.
- “Composing Local Scripture Songs in Côte d’Ivoire.” In Communicating Scriptures: The Bible in Audio and Video Formats, ed. Viggo Sogaard. United Bible Societies, 2002, ch. 34, pp. 4-5.
- “Singing a New Song: Breaking Cultural Barriers to Authentic Christian Worship,” in The Church Leader in Africa 12, no. 3, 3rd quarter 2002, pp. 9-11.
- Nine Articles in The Evangelical Dictionary of World Mission, Baker Book House, 2000: “Ethnomusicology,” “Extent of Missionary Identification,” “George, Eliza Davis (1879-1979),” “Roseveare, Helen (1925-),” “Scudder, Ida S. (1870-1959),” “Somalia,” “Sudan,” “Trasher, Lillian (1887-1961),” “Worship and Mission.”
- “Singing a New Song,” in Church Leader’s Challenge, Book 3, Accra-North, Ghana: Challenge Enterprises of Ghana, pp. 106-112. (Reprint from other publication – selected by an independent editor for inclusion of the Best of Church Leader in Africa).
- “Two Communication Principles God Uses with Song,” in Global Prayer Digest 25, no. 6, June 2005, pp. 36-39 (reprint from Frontiers).
- “Celebrating the Goodness of God: Worship and Mission in Africa,” Congratulatory Article in Ngoma ya Mungu [The Drum of God] 1, no. 1, pp. 4-7.
- “Telling God’s Story with a New Song,” Worship Leader 12, no. 6, 2002, p. 12.
- “Building Bridges Through World Music,” Theology, News, and Notes 48, no. 2, 2001, p. 13.
- “Telling God’s Story through Song,” Evangelical Mission Quarterly 38, no. 3, 2002, pp. 295-298.
- “Luther: A Dynamic Christian Music Communicator,” SEMI, Fuller Theological Seminary, January 2004.
- “Forging New Frontiers: Women in Leadership,” Impact 51, no. 4, 1994, p. 11.
- “Are Pianos Sacred: Confessions of an Mzungu Musician,” Kenya Church Growth Bulletin 2, no. 4, 1992, p. 6.
- “Case of the Missing Worshipper,” Kenya Church Growth Bulletin 2, no. 4, 1992, pp. 8-9.
- “Interviews: What is Worship to You?” Kenya Church Growth Bulletin 2, no. 4, 1992, pp. 6-7.
- “The Power of Worship,” Kenya Church Growth Bulletin 2, no. 4, 1992, pp. 1-3.
- “Worship Outline,” Kenya Church Growth Bulletin 2, no. 4, 1992, p. 10.
- “Pew Priests,” Impact 47, 1990, pp. 16-18.
- “The Role of Music in Theological Education.” Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology 9, no. 1 (1990): 35-41.
- “Say It with a Song,” Impact 44, no. 1, 1987, pp. 10-11.
- “Former Sorceress Sings God’s Word,” Communiqué: Newsletter of the Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society. Fall 1986, p. 1.