African Immigrants and Transformations in American Christianity

“African immigrants and their descendants are assimilating into American society at a time of major shifts, and their unique experiences holds important insights into what it means to black and Christian in 21st century America. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Jehu J. Hanciles Emory University (Candler School of Theology) Contact Me

About this project grant for researchers

The impact of post-1960s immigration on the American religious landscape will be more extensive than the previous, predominantly European, wave; and the African contribution will likely be noteworthy. In Europe, where the rapid decline of Christianity has long been evident, the term "blessed reflex" is often used to describe the prospect of Europe's re-evangelization by African Christian immigrants and their descendants. The African immigrant encounter with the U.S. is more complex; not least because the presence of a sizeable African American population complicates analysis. Even so, African immigrant congregations have proliferated throughout the U.S. and their contribution to American religious life is growing. The establishment of French-speaking congregations, for instance, offers ministry to groups that are hidden from homegrown churches. In the event, the African immigrant contribution in terms of missionary impact, ecclesial engagements, and forms of ministry can now be assess in ways that where not possible a decade and a half ago.

African immigrants and their adult children are now a factor in the American Church and they bring unique gifts and resources to major cultural shifts while also navigating intergenerational issues around identity and religious commitment. Research into African immigrant populations has the potential to shed much light on the complexities of the American Christian landscape, at a time of great change and new transitions.