April 17, 2004


In New York, Gospel Resounds in African Tongues (DANIEL J. WAKIN, 4/18/04, NY Times)

Every Sunday, in more than 100 churches across New York City, pastors preach the Gospel in languages like Ibo, Twi and Ga. Conga drums drive songs of praise. Swaths of kente cloth cover bodies swaying in the pews.

An explosion of African immigrant churches in the past 15 years has helped reshape religious worship in the city. The surge is creating oases of Christian faith for newcomers from Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Ethiopia and other countries and fueling an evangelical movement long the province of Latinos and African-Americans.

"They're having an impact beyond the African church," said Tony Carnes, a sociologist of religion who runs a seminar on immigration at Columbia University and a co-editor of "New York Glory: Religions in the City."

"The African churches are bringing new vitality and new ways of doing things to African-American and other churches," he added.

As membership increases, the churches are growing more visible in their neighborhoods. "People walk in and find community — friendly, African hospitality," Mr. Carnes said. "And second, there's this big emphasis on spiritual power in their services." As African churches attract increasing numbers of white worshipers, they can serve as a bridge between races, he added.

In some cases, churches founded by white missionaries during the colonial conquest of 19th-century Africa are sending their own missionaries here.

Seems only fair that they return the favor and evangelize the West.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 17, 2004 2:20 PM

Maybe they can bring back polygamy while they're at it.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at April 19, 2004 4:42 PM

Bring back?

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2004 4:48 PM

Yeah. Here in the West we take our harems one at a time, with divorces in-between.

Posted by: Ken at April 19, 2004 7:20 PM