Abstract: Based on over four years of ethnographic research in an Afro-Caribbean Pentecostal Church in Brooklyn, this article focuses on the process of becoming a religious seeker, or what I call a God hunter, towards conversion to a Pentecostal tongue-speaking church. Becoming a God hunter requires knowing the causes that explain religious seekership, the invariable sequence of interrelated events that are part of the process. It also requires gaining insight into motives at each stage in the process where potential converts arrive at their final decision to search for a religious group. This requires moving beyond a single set of essential variables, like crisis, or providing normative explanations to the motivation to become a religious seeker. Rather, this work explains the series of steps in a sequence of events that have a long and complex story in which individuals arrive at a point of convergence and decide to embark on a religious search. This article challenges the concept of crisis, used in both old and new scholarly models, to explain why someone decides to become a religious seeker. Final attention is given to the relevancy of continued academic debates on whether active or passive forces drive these individual decisions towards seekership.
Publisher’s Description: This book investigates an African diaspora Christian community in Calgary, Alberta, and explores the ways in which the church’s beliefs and practices impact the lives of its migrant congregation. Importantly, it details the expressed utility of two central ideas: the Prosperity Gospel and Holy Spirit Power. As congregants and church materials persistently maintained, these two aspects of African Pentecostalism supply operative spiritual machinery to overcome the difficulties of living in Canada, as well as the means to thrive in a foreign land. Additionally, the connection between these elements and the democratization of power is explored, and Tom Aechtner provides an analysis of how the church cultivates a form of Christian Pan-Africanism among its multiethnic and multinational population. The book assesses the roles that African Pentecostalism plays in ameliorating longings for home and promoting the need to spiritually reform Canada. Aechtner also describes how African Pentecostalism relates to the mediation of responses to racism in the nation’s officially multicultural society.
Aderibigbe, Ibigbolade. 2015. African Initiated Churches and African Immigrants in the United States: A Model in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, North America (RCCGNA). In, Contemporary Perspectives on Religions in Africa and the African Diaspora. Ibigbolade Aderibigbe and Carolyn M. Jones Medine, ed. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. Pp. 241-258.
Abstract: The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), North America, constitutes a graphic model of a transnational African Initiated Christian Church organization. The Church was founded in Nigeria in 1952. Though it started out as an apocalyptic movement, in classical parishes’ format, it has become an upwardly mobile functional Christian denomination in model parishes’ format. It is in this structure that the church has become transnational, having been transplanted to different parts of the world, including North America, where it now has well over 400 parishes.
Abstract: The prosperity gospel in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Hosanna Chapel, Helsinki, Finland, builds primarily on African indigenous worldviews rather than serving as a theological justification for capitalism. It is a contextual African interpretation of the gospel in a situation of tension between the expectations of extended families back home, those of the new society in which the immigrants find themselves, and the church. The African experience and heritage come to the fore especially in the strong emphasis placed on interpersonal relations, particularly with family members and God, as an essential part of prosperity. Naïve faith in the bliss of equal opportunities within capitalism is moderated by differentiation between realistic economic expectations and the special blessings that are endowed upon believers. When condemning the prosperity gospel wholesale, there is the risk of misinterpreting non-Western theologies and of morally castigating the weakest for their attempts to survive global capitalism instead of combating its oppressive structures.
While many issues about the entrepreneurial engagements of African-Caribbean (AC) have been discussed in the literature; there is far less studies documented about the link of these activities to faith, especially in the context of Pentecostalism. Hence, this research unravels how membership of Pentecostal fellowships aids the entrepreneurial activities of AC members.
Adopting the interpretive research paradigm, a total of 25 tape-recorded, semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with AC entrepreneurs who are members of Pentecostal faith-based organisations in London, and Pastors in this same sphere. 16 of the respondents are entrepreneurs running and managing their businesses while seven are Pastors, and the remaining two fall in both categories as they are both entrepreneurs and still serving as Pastors in churches in London. Rather than merely serving as gatekeepers for information, the pastors are active participants/respondents in the study.
The paper highlights the challenges confronting the African-Caribbean ethnic entrepreneurs but also suggests that those in the Pentecostal faith are motivated and emboldened by the shared values in this religion to navigate the volatile marketing environment. It unveils participants’ faith in God as their key business survival strategy. It also shows the unwavering confidence of the respondents that this religious stance results in outstanding business successes like increase in sales and profits, competitive edge, divine creativity and innovation, opportunity recognition, networks, institutional support and other factors that underpin entrepreneurship.
This study unpacks the thickly blurred link between Pentecostalism as a thriving religious orientation among the African-Caribbean ethnic group in the UK and their entrepreneurial engagements.
Abstract: This book investigates an African diaspora Christian community in Calgary, Alberta, and explores the ways in which the church’s beliefs and practices impact the lives of its migrant congregation. Importantly, it details the expressed utility of two central ideas: the Prosperity Gospel and Holy Spirit Power. As congregants and church materials persistently maintained, these two aspects of African Pentecostalism supply operative spiritual machinery to overcome the difficulties of living in Canada, as well as the means to thrive in a foreign land. Additionally, the connection between these elements and the democratization of power is explored, and Tom Aechtner provides an analysis of how the church cultivates a form of Christian Pan-Africanism among its multiethnic and multinational populations. The book assesses the roles that African Pentecostalism plays in ameliorating longings for home and promoting the need to spiritually reform Canada. Aechtner also describes how African Pentecostalism relates to the mediation of responses to racism in the nation’s officially multicultural society.
Abstract: In this article the author explores the ways in which Catholic, evangelical, and Candomblé actors produce competing framings that shape encounters taking place in the city of Cachoeira in the Brazilian state of Bahia. The framing of Cachoeira as a site of heritage tourism – one where local religious practices are read as part of the African heritage and attractions for African American ‘roots tourists’ – obscures as much as it reveals. This is not to suggest that this framing is entirely inaccurate or to deny that many visitors themselves describe their trips to Bahia this way. But I contend that the ‘heritage frame’ masks key issues that complicate diasporic encounters in Cachoeira, particularly different understandings of heritage and religion and their relationship to black identity that African Americans and Afro-Brazilians bring to these encounters.
Publisher’s Description: The last three decades have witnessed a rapid proliferation of African Christian communities, particularly in Europe and North American diaspora, thus resulting in the remapping of old religious landscapes. This migratory trend and development bring to the fore the crucial role, functions and import of religious symbolic systems in new geo-cultural contexts. The trans-national linkages between African-led churches in the countries of origin (Africa) and the “host” societies are assuming increasing importance for African immigrants. The links and networks that are established and maintained between these contexts are of immense religious, cultural, economic, political and social importance. This suggests how African Christianities can be understood within processes of religious transnationalism and African modernity.
Based on extensive religious ethnography undertaken by the author among African Christian communities in Europe, the USA and Africa in the last 17 years, this book maps and describes the incipience and consolidation of new brands of African Christianities in diaspora. The book demonstrates how African Christianities are negotiating and assimilating notions of the global while maintaining their local identities.