Dr Geoffrey Walker, Roehampton University, UK The dominant

Dr Geoffrey Walker, Roehampton University, UK
The dominant global phenomenon in 20th &
21st century Christianity.
120 million followers
12,000+ denominations
Roots are complex and various but include
the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in LA, the
1905-1906 Welsh Religious Revival and the
Sunderland Revival of 1907.
European Research Network on Global
Pentecostalism (GloPent) [University of
Birmingham] …
… part of the NORFACE (New Opportunities
for Research Funding Agency Co-operation in
Europe ) – funded research programme on
‘The re-emergence of Religion as a Social
Force in Europe’
Key focus of research – the growing impact of
African (especially transnational Nigerian)
migrant churches within the European religious
Data sets from 2 sources:
1. 57 semi-structured interviews from 2007 to date
with Nigerian Pentecostal ministers and church
leaders studying as ministerial theology students at
Roehampton University. The majority from SE
Data sets from semi-structured interviews at
two London Nigerian Pentecostal Bible
Christ the Redeemer College (Redeemed
Christian Church of God)
London College of Theology (Independent/ Life
Centre Bible Church)
Two waves of African & Caribbean immigration
which have generated black majority churches:
1. 1950s > : Pentecostalism a means for assisting
migrant Christians to cope with ethnic and
status deprivation caused by racial
discrimination and unfamiliar indigenous
religious culture and expressions.
Emphasis on …
Righteousness and holiness of living
Strict personal ethics
Separation from the world and materialism
Strongly Adventist
2. Second wave 1980s > : Pentecostal churches
planted specifically to meet the needs of migrant
populations. Main wave planted by denominations
or individuals from Nigeria with a conscious
missionary agenda:
… to (re)-convert the UK
… to exercise ‘mission
in reverse’
Nigeria is African’s most populous nation.
Post 1970 emergence of vibrant and fast
growing locally derived Pentecostal Churches.
Focus on:
Holiness Movement,
Prosperity Gospel,
Deliverance Ministry
Deeper Life Bible Church – 6000+ church plants
Living Faith Church – 50,400 seat Faith Tabernacle in Lagos -
largest church building in the world
Church-planting across Africa.
UK Border Agency data show the following:
2007/2008 :
193,155 legal immigrants came to the UK from Nigeria
2008/2009 :
200,220 legal immigrants came to the UK from Nigeria
58% of African immigrants in 2008/2009 came from Nigeria – second only
to India in the volume of immigration.
80+ Nigerian initiated denominations.
 part of trans-national networks & selfestablished independent churches with no
formal outside links.
 Rapid growth at a time when mainstream UK
and many first wave black churches are in
4 of the UK’s 10 largest mega-churches are led by
Nigerians :
 Deeper Life Bible Church, London
Pastor W.F.Kumuyi (founded in Lagos 1973: now planted in 62 countries
– 28 UK church plants)
3000+ weekly attendance in London
Weekly slot on UK Premier Radio
The Redeemed Christian Church of God,
Pastor Josiah Akindayomi (founded in Lagos in 1952 –
planted in the UK in 1985:
390 UK congregations 30,000 members).
Now led by Pastor EA Adeboye
The fastest growing Pentecostal
denomination in the UK
To make heaven.
To take as many people with us.
To have a member of RCCG in every family of all nations.
To accomplish No. 1 above, holiness will be our lifestyle.
To accomplish No. 2 and 3 above, we will plant churches within five minutes
walking distance in every city and town of developing countries and within
five minutes driving distance in every city and town of developed countries.
We will pursue these objectives until every Nation in the world is
reached for the Lord Jesus Christ.
New Wine Church Greenwich (London)
founded in 2001 by Nigerian Tayo Adeyemi
3,000+ weekly worshippers.
Success orientated
Spiritual empowerment
Nigerian communities in diaspora: university
professional commerce & business
TV and radio stations
Kingsway International Christian Church Centre
(KICC) London Europe’s largest single congregation - 12,000
Founded in London in 1992.
Led by Nigerian born Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo
KICC > Home
Nigerian Pentecostal experience, belief and practice
motivates Christian action and creates identity
construction in the UK for Nigerian immigrant
It does this by reinforcing indigenous Nigerian religious
and cultural norms:
Gender stereotypes reinforced (male biblical
Female empowerment of (disempowered) men.
The significance of Nigerian Pentecostal churches
within the religious and spiritual context of 21st
century UK Christianity.
An urban (southern) phenomenon.
Significant growth through recruitment of international
students and expatriate workers – middle to upper-class
Nigerians in diaspora.
Many Nigerian Pentecostal churches in the UK are
reaching other Africans living in diaspora.
Little evidence that Nigerian Pentecostalism attracts
those (especially Afro-Caribbeans – active or lapsed) from
other Pentecostal traditions
Little evidence of impact amongst:
non-religious Africans
traditional (white) UK population
First wave (mostly Caribbean) black majority church
Overall UK demographics of religious affiliation continue
to decline.
Indications that amongst early second wave plants the
agenda has begun to move from ‘winning back the UK’
to witnessing through social action.
Trinity Chapel, London (RCCG): Developing Leaders,
Influencing Society
partnership initiatives with a number of secular (National
Lottery funded) community programmes (prison visiting,
literacy programmes, ecumenical social projects)
Does Nigerian Pentecostalism translate into local global
environments in the West?
Generational stress – the result of broadening
educational opportunities and cultural dissonance
especially within the workplace.
Theological dissonance creates a sense of a religiocultural ghetto that operates within a self-defining and
legitimating hermeneutic
Interim conclusions:
Second Wave Nigerian Pentecostalism has reversed/
slowed-down the demographic decline in UK church
The suggestion that Nigerian Pentecostalism’s societal
impact has raised the significance of ‘the Church’ as a
religious plausibility structure for any but its own
adherents is hard to maintain.
The early charismatic phase of planting is in decline as
church plants themselves slow down.
Interim conclusions:
Evidence of disaffection amongst the young and the
routinization of religious practices (especially challenges
to holiness [lifestyle], the prosperity gospel and credulity
towards deliverance ministry) and the accompanying
shift of focus towards a gospel of social-witnessing is
indicative of a gradual adaptation to western cultural
In the long run Nigerian Pentecostal churches may go
the way of longer established denominations.

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