In Memoriam: Adelaide Boadi

Adelaide presenting on the CCGC panel, “Global Christianities: Complicating the Concept,” November 9, 2011.

Drew mourns the loss and celebrates the life of Adelaide Ruth Afi Boadi, who died on September  11, 2012, after a seven month battle with cancer.  Having overcome many prior adversities in pursuit of her PhD, Adelaide had hoped to graduate in May 2012; sadly, this was not to be.  Adelaide was a woman of enormous gifts, fierce determination, great generosity, and boundless faith.  Her vitality of spirit graced our community during her time with us and will continue to do so beyond her death.

Adelaide was born in Asiakwa, Ghana, on December 16, 1964.  She graduated from the Presbyterian Training College of Akropong Akuapem in 1987 and taught at the University Primary School in Cape Coast from 1987 to 1993.  She subsequently studied at the University of Cape Coast, where she received a B.A. in Economics and Sociology and a Diploma in Education, graduating in May 1998 with first class honors.

In 2001, Adelaide left Ghana for the U.S. to pursue graduate studies.  After completing an S.T.M. at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, in 2002 she enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Drew in the area of Sociology of Religion, where she worked closely with Professors Otto Maduro and Laurel Kearns, among others.  In her dissertation, entitled “Power, gender, agency, and social change in Ghanaian Pentecostalism,” Adelaide set out to tell a hitherto untold story, namely, that of the initiative, involvement, and agency of women in Ghanaian Pentecostalism—a story that, as she argued, has been ignored or downplayed not only by a male dominated ecclesial hierarchy but also by the scholars who have studied this religious movement.   While she was not able to complete the dissertation, she did leave her mark on scholarship, publishing a well-respected essay, “Engaging patriarchy: Pentecostal gender ideology and practices in Nigeria,” in Religion, history, and politics in Nigeria (University Press of America, 2005), pp 172-186.  During her final year of doctoral study, she also made notable contributions in her role as a Luce Graduate Fellow with the Center for Christianities in Global Contexts at Drew.  In the fall of 2011, she organized the first of what was to be a series of lively panels on Global Christianities, and she presented on this panel alongside two faculty members and another PhD colleague; as ever, her words were at once insightful, incisive, and challenging.  (An account of the panel, including a summary of Adelaide’s remarks, is available here.)

Both in Ghana and in the U.S., Adelaide was extremely active in the International Central Gospel Church, where she led worship, preached the gospel, and sang.  Singing was a great passion and a great gift, and Adelaide produced three CDs, “Adehye Mogya” (Precious Blood), “Aseda Nkoaa” (Thanksgiving), and “You Are So Beautiful.”—Virginia Burrus, Chair of the Graduate Division of Religion