Up, Up Jesus! Down, Down Satan! African Religiosity in the former Soviet Bloc — the Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations

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Abstract

African religions are increasingly engaging the diaspora as new abodes and promising 'mission fields' particularly in the last decades. At least two genres of Christian movements can be clearly mapped: those existing as branches of mother churches headquartered in Africa; and those founded by new African immigrants with headquarters in diaspora, from where they are expanding within and back to Africa and elsewhere. The paper deals with an example of the second category, the Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations founded in Ukraine by Nigerian-born Sunday Adelaja. While virtually all new African churches in diaspora seem to be dominated by African immigrants, the 'Embassy of God' is an exception with a non-African membership majority. We map its demography and social-ethnic composition, and examine to what extent their belief and ritual system appeal to a population that was until recently home to essentially communist ideas and worldview. We explore how the church is gradually inserting itself in new geo-cultural contexts as well as reconfiguring public roles. It shows how the leader's complex peregrinations demonstrate one instance of religious transnationalization of African churches in diaspora.

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Journal of Contemporary Christianities in Context

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