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That They All May be One?

Jean Bokeleale and US Protestant Missionary Conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1965–1972

In: Social Sciences and Missions
Author: Jeremy Rich1
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In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Congolese pastor Jean Bokeleale’s church union movement divided US Protestant missionaries. Bokeleale’s goal of uniting all Congolese Protestant churches was sanctioned by Congolese leader Mobutu Sese Seko, and Bokeleale relied on cultural nationalist arguments to criticize missionaries who opposed his aims. Liberal missionaries gave financial assistance to Bokeleale and criticized evangelicals opposed to church union. Evangelical missionaries denounced Bokeleale as a demagogue, similar to Western criticism of Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba. This essay examines how missionary discussion of Bokeleale reveals debates over the role of missionaries in an independent Congo.

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