This paper examines how the call to found their own churches has allowed and enabled women to subvert and challenge prescribed gender roles. It focuses on African Initiated Churches including both African Independent and Pentecostal Charismatic churches. While the importance of women in these churches is widely acknowledged, less attention has been given to the question of how female church founders gain and maintain their leadership positions. Drawing on historical cases as well as on interviews with founders and church leaders conducted in South Africa and Nigeria, this paper shows how the charismatic authority and doctrinal independence women gain through the call not only legitimate their position but enable them to challenge social and doctrinal norms and thus emancipate themselves from traditional gender roles. However, it also discusses whether in some cases women did not fully use their authority in order to keep it.
This article introduces Religion & Development as a new transdisciplinary journal focusing on the nexus between religion and development. It outlines the motivation for establishing the new periodical along three central themes: the move towards sustainable development as dominant development paradigm; the reinvigoration of the post-development debate; and the emerging academic, policy and practice field of religion and development. The discussion proceeds to highlight the envisaged task of the journal as well as its transdisciplinary and collaborative span. Moreover, it delineates Religion & Development’s core editorial policies, before setting the scene for the contributions of the journal’s first issue.