Pentecostalism in a Rural Context

Dynamics of Religion and Development in Southwest Ethiopia


  • Dena Freeman London School of Economics and Political Science



Pentecostal, Development


Pentecostal Christianity originated as an urban movement in America, and as it spread to Africa it was initially taken up most enthusiastically in towns and capital cities. In Ethiopia the Pentecostal movement largely started in towns, but is increasingly being taken up by rural communities. This paper will explore why rural Ethiopian communities are attracted to Pentecostalism, and how it impacts on their social, cultural and economic practices. In particular, I consider the developmental consequences of Pentecostalism, and how Pentecostal beliefs and practices encourage or block processes of change that are generally termed “development”. As part of this I will explore the theory of development – of what constitutes “good change” – that is implicit in Pentecostal philosophy and that is generally known as “transformational development”. I will show how this notion of change is significantly different to notions of change prevalent in the secular development world in that they emphasize transformations of subjectivity and social relations first, then leading to economic transformation, rather than focusing solely on the economic, as is apparent in the work of many secular development NGOs.


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How to Cite

Freeman, D. (2013). Pentecostalism in a Rural Context: Dynamics of Religion and Development in Southwest Ethiopia. PentecoStudies, 12(2), 231–249.