Nigerian-initiated Pentecostal Churches as a Social Force in Europe
the Case of the Redeemed Christian Church of God
Keywords:Pentecostal/Charismatic, Migrant churches, Transnationalism, Social Force
This article discusses the spread and impact of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), a successful example of a Nigerian-initiated Pentecostal church in Britain, the Netherlands and Germany. The church’s capacity as a social force in Europe is assessed with reference to three dimensions: the social impact on the wider society through its missionary and civic activities, the social impact on members’ lives, and the extent to which the church contributes to the “deprivatization” of religion and its visibility in the public sphere (Casanova, 1994; Haynes, 1998). The article concludes that Nigerian-initiated Pentecostal churches such as the RCCG are quite clearly a social force in Europe: they are expanding, finding new ways of being present in public spaces and engaging with society, and are instrumental in constituting the spaces of the African Diaspora and shaping the self-conception of their members as valuable members of their host society. Furthermore, they contribute to the awareness of the European mainline churches that Christianity’s centre of gravity is moving south. All this is visible quite strongly in Britain, to a lesser extent in the Netherlands and least in Germany.
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