The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Australia

Local Congregants and a Global Spiritual Network


  • Kathleen Openshaw Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University



spiritual capital, material religion, assemblages, networks, migration


The Brazilian megachurch, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), has a global network of branches. Its Australian headquarters is a dynamic spiritual space where ideas, people, material culture and spirits are exchanged from across the globe. This article follows the journey of a single vial of oil to illustrate the global flows that take place through the UCKG Australia. With each stop the vial accrues spiritual capital before its final destination. Drawing on two years of ethnographic research, I argue that the UCKG’s global networks allow congregants access to, and enables them to pass on, spiritual capital thus providing personal agency to overcome life difficulties via supernatural means. Through this vial’s journey, I will show how global religious practices are locally lived and highlight the local spiritual significance of globally mobile religious material culture.

Author Biography

Kathleen Openshaw, Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University

Kathleen Openshaw has a PhD from Western Sydney University (Australia), and a Master’s degree in Anthropology and Development Studies (Maynooth University, Ireland). Kathleen’s main research interests are Pentecostalisms from the Global South, local lived migrant religious expressions of globalised Pentecostalisms and material religion. Her PhD research was an ethnography of the Brazilian megachurch, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) in Australia. She is the Managing Editor of the Australian Journal of Anthropology (TAJA).


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How to Cite

Openshaw, K. (2019). The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Australia: Local Congregants and a Global Spiritual Network. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 32(1), 27–48.