Although they still mainly attract those of African American descent, African-based churches have been making inroads in the US for the past decade, reports Rachel Zoll in the Associated Press (March 26).
This represents one unexpected aspect of the trend toward the “browning of Christian proselytism” evidenced last year by Paul Freston at an international conference in Tokyo [see RW, April 2005]. Founded in 1952 in Lagos, Nigeria, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (http://www.rccg.org), a Pentecostal group, inaugurated its first US congregation in 1992 and now claims more than 200 parishes in North America (http://www.rccgna.org).
The largest congregation is in Maryland with 2,000 members, and a national headquarters and conference complex are under construction in Floyd, Texas. Such churches don’t claim to bring Christ to Americans, but feel that the country has become post-Christian and that US Christianity misses a vibrancy which African Christians could restore.
The challenge for the RCCG and other African churches setting foot in America is to go beyond racial divisions, since “US churches remain largely segregated by race”, Zoll observes. Otherwise, she adds, what participants experience at some of the successful churches of African origins is not very different from mainstream American Christianity, due to the influence of American missionaries and authors among African pastors.
— By Jean-Francois Mayer, RW Contributing Editor and founder of the website Religioscope (http://www.religion.info).