November 30, 2010 / Theology
This essay is neither for nor against Glenn Beck. The philosopher Michel Foucault warns us …
August 8, 2005
Trends in World Christianity
A fact of our time is the rise of Southern Christianity. Its emergence heralds the birth of a truly dynamic world Christianity, marked by the axial shift in mass and direction of the religion’s center from North America and Europe to Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific, a phenomenon that has occurred only in the second half of the twentieth century. In 1900, over 80 percent of professing Christians were European or Euro-American. Today, over 60 percent of professing Christians live in the non-Western world. Those ecclesial bodies that operate on a global scale have already felt the resultant tremors of these tectonic movements. In the Anglican Communion, where Nigeria and Uganda represent the two countries with the largest number of practicing Anglicans, Southern hemisphere bishops comprise a staunch conservative majority, regularly voting down their liberal Western counterparts on issues of doctrine. In the Catholic Church, it is estimated that a majority of the cardinals eligible to vote in the next papal election will hail from Southern nations, making the prospects of a future African or Latin American Pope not unlikely. The demographic shift in Christianity has propelled a fundamental revolution in religion, politics, and culture by dismantling the Western philosophical and metaphysical edifice. The result is that the West has ceased to be the exclusive culture of reference for the rest of the world. Philip Jenkins describes the pervading character of this emerging revolution:
Worldwide, Christianity is actually moving toward supernaturalism and neo-orthodoxy, and in many ways toward the ancient world view expressed in the New Testament: a vision of Jesus as the embodiment of divine power, who overcomes the evil forces that inflict calamity and sickness upon the human race.
Despite this reality, observers in the West fail to see—or prefer to ignore—the ways in which Christianity is growing and mutating. The Western theological enterprise has perhaps been slowest to consider the implication of Christianity’s most diverse and complex cultural phase in this present age.
African Contributions to the World Church
Christianity’s most vigorous growth is in Africa, where today there are well over 380 million Christians out of a total population of 810 million. With roughly 47 percent of the continent professing Christianity (compared to only 25 percent in 1965) and a current yearly growth rate of 2.4 percent, Africa is well on its way to becoming a Christian continent. Christ’s seed of faith, cultivated in fertile soil, has sunk deep roots in the collective African consciousness. With this in mind, I want to explore the main issue at stake in this article: how African understandings of the Eucharist as a communal meal might enrich and deepen the world church’s own theology. In Africa, Christian theology and liturgical rites have been dynamically enriched and informed by African traditional religion. It is my hope that the witness of a vibrant African Christianity will inspire hope and infuse life into the world church, especially in the West where Christianity is in decline.
A meal is perhaps the most basic and most ancient symbol of friendship, love, and unity; food and drink taken in common are signs that life is shared. In Africa it is rare for people to eat alone—meals are communal activities. Hands are washed before the meal begins, usually by a child who pours water over the cupped hands of the adults in the group. Everyone sits around a common dish of cassava, maize, or plantain. Each person takes a portion, shapes it into a ball, and then dips it into a single dish of relish, soup, or greens. If there is meat, the best portions are first offered to visitors or elders in the group. Drink, also, is often served from a common bowl or cup, which is passed from one to another. The meal concludes with another hand washing. Eating a meal together is the most basic way of sharing common life; it restores what has been lost and gives strength for what lies ahead.
African Culture and the Eucharist
While the rich diversity of the African cultural landscape makes it difficult to generalize about particular African cultural and religious practices, failure to examine the broad continuities that exist on the continent has prevented Western theologians from learning anything at all from Africa. Particular beliefs and customs may be diverse, but the depth dimension of the African worldview is strikingly consistent, a fact that is apparent to anyone who goes to Africa. This is the deep level of culture. In collating responses to the Lineamenta on the Synod of Bishops, Special Assembly for Africa, Chukwuma Okoye observes that there is a striking similarity in descriptions of the African traditional religion coming from all countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Probing beneath the surface layer of diverse practices, a careful observer finds similarities in the models, meanings, and interpretations of African life. Because the Eucharist deals with this depth dimension of meaning rather than the superficial level of practice, it is possible to identify “communal meal” as a root metaphor in African celebrations of the Eucharist. For instance, the Ndzon-Melen Mass of Cameroon incorporates aspects of Beti culture and is a celebration of shared word and meal within a reconciling assembly. African theologian Elochukwu Uzukwu describes this experience as “the totality of the human person/community (in all its tensions) in dynamic union with its universe, choreographing before the giver of life to whom the fruit of life is joyfully presented.” This description reveals that the symbol of gathered assembly, with its accompanying notions of human community, divine-human communion, and thanksgiving to God, is deeply rooted in African consciousness. African spirituality may therefore contribute toward a more communal understanding of the Eucharist in the West.
A Meal of Covenant: Sharing in the Eucharist
Perhaps the greatest problem of the church in respect to its mission has been its endless fragmentation. The desired unity among Christians has become an illusion. By sharing in a final meal with his disciples, Jesus united them in a covenant relationship with himself and with one another. Sharing in the sacred meal establishes unity and communion with the one Lord. Nlenanya Onwu argues that Africans think of relationship in covenantal terms as well. He cites the Igbo people’s use of a common meal to cement relationships. The Igbo believe that when two or more persons eat or drink together from the same bowl they have entered into a covenant. They have licked their common saliva, which has a spiritual quality in Igbo culture. With it, one may bless or curse, express friendship or enmity. Sharing a meal affirms the holy value attached to life and unity in relationship. The covenantal dimension of the communal meal in African culture, of which the Igbo are but one example, speaks directly to contemporary ecumenical conversations on Eucharistic sharing. It reminds Christians everywhere that we share in a communal meal at the Lord’s holy table, not the table of any particular church. In the Eucharist, we affirm our covenant with Jesus Christ and with others. Practices that exclude Christian members of other denominations from partaking in the Eucharist are a serious hindrance to establishing authentic Christian community.
A Meal of Unity and Peace: Achieving What it Signifies
Church historians have pointed out that the Reformation made possible a religion that could be practiced in private, rather than in community. The Enlightenment in the West has fashioned in its own image a Christianity distinguished by individual choice, privatized religious belief, and abstract intellectual and philosophical concepts. In contrast, African Christianity most often resembles the pre-Reformation churches, insisting that faith must be framed in a communal context. In the Orthodox Church, the Holy Spirit functions to actualize the unity of all things in Jesus Christ. For this reason, the Eucharist must be understood communally, not just in terms of Christ and the individual. “By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Eucharist at once actualizes, symbolizes and anticipates the unity of all things in Christ.” The Eucharist reminds us of our interdependence and unity as children of God. Catholic Bishop Joseph Ukpo of Nigeria suggests that African Christianity offers a unique perspective – one informed by traditional African values and experience – that can enrich the world church’s understanding of unity. In his address to the Second Nigerian National Eucharistic Congress, he said:
Jesus celebrated the last supper within the context of a community meal [. . . .] The love manifested in the traditional breaking of Kola nuts can enrich the Christian understanding of the Eucharist as a communion, as agape. We can offer the world a Christianity that is operational in Africa as a communitarian family where unity and peace reign supreme in justice and love. We can offer [. . .] the African understanding of mutual dialogue where every individual is challenged not only to justify everything but to deliver the best and most profound communitarian values. We can offer the world authentic feeling for the sacredness of human life and offer for purification and adoption our cultural values of kindness, simplicity, openness, hospitality, burial ceremonies, collective labor, festivals, visits and co-operation in social works and among members of the extended family, the sick, the aged, chiefs and elders. This may be our humble, but authentic approach to the realization of [. . .] a Church that is truly Christian.
African Christians take the covenantal and communal dimensions of the Eucharist seriously. Because the Eucharist has the potential to become both blessing and cursing for the participants, this heightens its gravity and significance. As Onwu has observed, “Participation in the Eucharist makes believers not only more committed to their Lord but also more responsible for one another in mutual service, love and unity.” In his book, Christianity Rediscovered, American Roman Catholic missioner Vincent Donovan relates how he “rediscovered” the gospel message among the Masai in Tanzania. Their faithful observance of the Mass moved him deeply. Donovan recalls how he never knew if the Eucharist would emerge from his visits to the villages. The elders were the ones to decide. “If life in the village had been less than human or holy, then there was no Mass. If there had been selfishness and forgetfulness and hatefulness and lack of forgiveness in the work that had been done [and] in the life that had been led, [they made no] sacrilege out of it by calling it the body of Christ.” If the grass (a Masai sacramental sign of peace) had stopped being passed, if someone in the village had refused to accept the grass as the peace of Christ, there would be no Eucharist. More often than not, however, there was the will to overcome the community’s weaknesses. They would ask the Spirit to come and change the community into the body of Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit they could say together, “This—not just the bread and wine, but the whole life of the village, its work, play, joy, sorrow, the homes, the grazing fields, the flocks, the people—all this is my Body.” Such recognition—that all elements of life are interconnected because they belong to God—illustrates the powerful moral imperative that under girds our celebrations of the Eucharist.
A Meal of Reconciliation: Identifying the Communal Implications of Sin
Another aspect of the African celebration of the Eucharist as communal meal that may enrich the church is the way in which sin is understood communally. Western definitions of sin are often individualistic, focusing on self, salvation, and one’s own relationship to God. American liturgical scholar Ruth Duck points out that even our corporate confessions of sin “sometimes focus so much on human relationship with the divine (and salvation of the soul) that a short act of confession appears to be a substitute for changed human action and relationships.” As seen in the example of the Masai above, African notions of sin are focused on relationships with others in the community. For this reason, individual sins become matters of communal concern. After watching a video on the Paschal (Easter) feast of the Zion Apostolic Church in Zimbabwe, one Western divinity school student was disturbed by what she perceived to be a violent intrusion upon the privacy and individual conscience of the participants. Before the Eucharist meal, a prophet or prophetess publicly scrutinizes each member of the community. The people are not allowed to participate in the Pascha until they confess their sins to the elders. The belief is that those who do not confess their sins will be enemies of God for an entire year, until the next Pascha. Despite the Western observer’s discomfort, she admitted that there is something refreshing about identifying sin. She wondered if perhaps, by accepting cultural values that privilege individual freedom and privacy over community, we have forfeited the ability to name sin in our Western churches. In African traditional understandings, the public naming, condemning, and breaking of sin emphasizes the relational aspect of human moral behavior, grounded in the bedrock of life’s interconnectedness. In this sense, the reconciling power of Christ in the Eucharistic assembly works to reconsititute human communities disaggregated by sin. Broken relationships are made whole again, a concrete symbol of people’s daily struggle against sin within the community.
A Meal of Mystical Power: Experiencing the Real Presence of Christ
In 1997, I studied at Daystar University near Athi River town, a short drive heading southeast by Mombasa road from Nairobi, Kenya. The then Vice-Chancellor of the school, Dr. Stephen Talitwala, spoke to the assembled students and staff at the opening convocation. My Western sensibilities were assaulted as he related the events preceding the university’s establishment. After land was purchased and before construction of buildings could begin, school officials and several pastors from Nairobi scouted the entire area in order to consecrate the ground as sacred to the Lord. When they discovered locations where they sensed the presence of evil spirits, they baptized the earth with water and joined together in prayer, driving away the spirits by the power of Christ. To conclude his convocation speech, Talitwala enjoined the entire assembly to pray for the continued presence of Christ, which would protect from all evil and attacks of the Devil. The African tradition offers the West an enlivened sense of the real presence of Christ as mystical power. According to Chukwuma Okoye, “Africans inhabit the universe with spirits; invisible mystical forces, powers and spirits of ancestors.” The universe is imbued with a powerful energy, which may be tapped by spirits, medicine men, witches, priests, and rainmakers. Africans espouse a worldview in which communities can be brought into relationship with invisible forces and powers. Not unlike those in the New Testament who reckoned with Paul’s “principalities and powers,” Africans tend to find spiritual forces actively at work in the world for good and ill. African traditional religion and culture combine and open outward to the mighty presence of the risen Lord in the Eucharistic assembly. The unmediated presence of God receives great emphasis in Africa because it is the very thing that creates the assembled community. The Eucharist, however, is not to be considered a thing endowed with mystical power on its own. Instead, its significance lies in the action of an assembly suffused with the presence of Jesus. What the assembly does with the elements representing Christ’s body and blood conveys the deepest meaning of the Eucharist. This is because, in the African consciousness, a strong sense of mystical power is attached to the human action of sharing a meal together. There is a deep longing in the West to experience a sense of mystical power, as evidenced by the increasing number of people drawn toward eastern religions in recent decades. Such longing, however, has yet to produce a significant rise in Christian church attendance, where prayers, hymns, and sermons are often little more than intellectual exercises. The Eucharistic meal is bland and unfulfilling in solemn assemblies of people who do not really believe that a resurrected Christ rolled away the gravestone. German theologian Michael Welker makes a Western argument for coming to grips with the mystical power and real presence of Christ, who is alive in the Eucharist. He writes:
In the celebration of Holy Communion the “whole Christ” is present – as the pre-Easter Jesus whom we remember, the Crucified One whom we proclaim, the Risen One to whom we bear witness, and the Human One whom we expect and await! This [. . .] makes clear that “real presence” is not about a mere object of sense-experience, and still less about a Christological principle. In the sacramental event of the celebration of the Supper, the gathered community is permeated and surrounded by Christ, by the entire richness of his life. The “real presence” of Christ surrounds the community and the entire church as Christ is made present, remembered, experienced, and awaited in ways that are readily accessible to the senses.
The Eucharist is a communal meal in which Christ is celebrated, and in which Christ gives himself in the form of food and drink. It is this self-emptying, kenotic power of the New Testament—amplified by the African worldview—that reverberates through the African church, offering the West an opportunity to reclaim a meal of mystical power; to structure our celebrations of the Eucharist so that it is clear that here is no mere meal, but a communal act joyfully celebrating the Risen Christ in our midst and giving thanks to God the Father.
A Meal of Participation: Including Everyone in the Ritual Action
The African church may also enrich world Christianity’s notions of who participates in worship. Objects offered in the African assembly are from the local community. Where food is offered, it is from the house, the labor of one’s hands. During the Eucharist, members of the assembly often bring the elements to the table with celebration, dancing, and rejoicing. The Eucharist meal is not something that the priest or minister prepares alone. Traditional patterns in Africa call for greater participation and less rarified matter for the Eucharistic elements, including local symbols of nourishing food and festive drink. Bishop Peter Sarpong draws upon Ashanti culture to involve all the people in the Catholic Mass of Kumasi, Ghana. The symbols of African life, pre-loaded with meaning, are used to communicate the message of the church. Young women dance through the assembly toward the altar carrying chickens, traditional symbols of sacrifice that will later be given to the poor. Hymns and responsive litanies are sung in the vernacular to traditional tunes. Young men beat drums, providing the rhythms that drive the constant movements of the whole assembly. Consider the well-known Zaire Mass, which also highlights the co-offering of the people through a simple offertory rite in preparation for the Mass. Gifts for the needy are brought to the altar; one of the bearers exclaims: “Priest of God here is our offering! May it be a sure sign of our unity.” Making a sign of gratitude, the priest accepts the gifts. Two people present bread and wine, saying together, “O priest of God, here is the bread, here is the wine; gifts of God, fruit of the earth, they are also the work of man. May they become food and drink for the Kingdom of God.” In both the Ghana and Zaire examples, the Eucharist is centered on the active participation of the entire community. The real presence of Christ – “This is the Body of Christ” – becomes true only through full participation. African Eucharistic celebrations have a way of preserving individual distinctions while maximizing the participation of all in common worship of God. On this point, African theologians do not tire of telling us that the African assemblies are nearer to the worship of the New Testament and exemplify the communal life of the early church.
A Meal of Hope: Proclaiming Christ’s Resurrection until He Comes
The African church celebrates the Eucharist as a communal meal of hope. In African worship, the gospel promise is alive and the sense of expectation is palpable. Throughout East Africa, I have witnessed eager crowds pressing to get into church. Many African prayers voice the hopeful expectation of the coming Lord. A bold proclamation of Christ’s resurrection and firm hope in his return may be found in The Anglican Church of Kenya’s A Kenyan Service of Holy Communion (1989). Excerpts from the dialogue and preface of the Eucharistic prayer and from the closing sentences of the benediction demonstrate creativity and freedom in adapting the Anglican prayer book using traditional African forms of communal address and tribal prayers:
Is the Father with us? He is. Is Christ among us? He is. Is the Spirit here? He is. This is our God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are his people. We are redeemed. Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God [. . . .] In these last days you have sent your Son, your perfect image, Bringing your kingdom, revealing your will, Dying, rising, reigning, Remaking your people for yourself. Through him you have poured out your Holy Spirit, Filling us with light and life [. . . .] All our problems We send to the cross of Christ. All our difficulties We send to the cross of Christ. All the devil’s works We send to the cross of Christ. All our hopes We set on the risen Christ. Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you and scatter the darkness from before your path and the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.
The Masai of East Africa express their Christian hope in even more concrete terms. They speak of believing as a community rather than as individuals. Instead of casting their African Creed in cognitive abstract terms of the physical and spiritual, of Christ as eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, begotten not made, etc., the Masai speak of a journey of faith and hope in God. They speak of how they once knew the High God in darkness but now “know him in the light [. . .] of his word.” The creed continues with God’s promise in Jesus, “A man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left his home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God,” until finally “he was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died.” At this point, the irony of the historical Jesus is clinched with a stunning understatement: “He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, he rose from the grave.” The creed concludes on a note of joy and eschatological hope, “We are waiting for Him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.” The Jesus of the African Creed is a solid figure, a channel of God’s grace, and present in the world through sacrament, mission, and service. Lamin Sanneh, historian of world Christianity, suggests that such enlivened, hope-filled language and the theology that inspired it could have reverberating benefits in the West. In Africa and elsewhere fresh materials are “being introduced into scripture, prayers, hymns, and liturgy” which could influence “how people in the West think about the gospel and the church.” Such creativity may provide a much-needed tonic for the enervated churches of the West.
A Meal of Transforming Love: Serving the Poor and Oppressed
A final important component of the African communal meal that can contribute to Western notions of the Eucharist is the way in which God’s love compels Christians everywhere to help the poor and oppressed. A strong social ethic flows from the font of African traditional understandings of the Eucharist as a communal meal; no one should go hungry while others feast. All of African worship enshrines the values of family, community, and mutual aid. From the provision of Christ’s common table, the African church delivers a wide range of social services where crumbling government institutions are incapable of addressing people’s most basic needs. Gerard Mpango, Anglican Bishop of Western Tanganyika Diocese in Tanzania, identifies the three priorities in his diocese of nearly one million persons: evangelism, education, and service to the poor and the sick. Ministry to the sick is especially needed in sub-Saharan Africa, where AIDS threatens to rend the fabric of society. In the countries most affected, as many as one in four adults are infected. The disease strikes the most productive members of society, leaving the young and elderly in the care of others. Those who seek to serve in the name of Christ strain hard under a heavy burden. Joseph Gisayi, a friend and pastor from the Lake Victoria region of Tanzania, lost his brother to AIDS last year. His brother’s wife (who is likely infected as well) and four children now live with Joseph and his wife Raheli, who are already caring for their own children and several other AIDS orphans from their church. The churches in Africa take seriously Jesus’ command to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, take care of the sick, and visit the prisoner (Matthew 25:31-46). When my wife and I traveled to Kenya in 2000, we worshipped with friends at Nairobi Pentecostal Church. After every Sunday service, the church members cooked a meal, which they served to street children and the poor who came because it was a place where they would be cared for, not beaten or ridiculed. When I asked one pastor why they did this, his puzzled response was, “How could we ignore these brothers and sisters? Jesus loves them.” The pastor’s response is echoed in churches throughout Africa. The fact that world Christianity’s vitality is inversely proportional to material affluence is provocative and convicting. Has the increase in Western material sophistication made us insensitive to the demands of Christianity? In his words to Nigerian Christians, Bishop Joseph Ukpo reminds Western Christians that Christ’s love in the Eucharist must make a difference. He asks, “What is the efficacy of the one bread and the one cup? You who have received Holy Communion . . . what have you done and what will you do as a result of your participation? Remember, the Eucharistic Imperative is simply LOVE.” These words challenge us to give ourselves over to the experience of being gripped and transformed in the Eucharist. In the midst of the assembly, Christ calls us to serve others. The communal meal of love means that we cannot tolerate poverty, injustice, suffering, religious bigotry, ethnicism, immorality, and hatred in our midst. African insights afford the Western church an opportunity to rediscover in the Eucharist the love that transforms for service to the poor and oppressed. In a land of plenty, can we make the sacrifices necessary to love and serve others as Christ gave himself for us?
To be sure, the Western vision of Christianity is myopic. At present, many Western Christians miss the depth of the lived experience that our African sisters and brothers offer us. Perhaps the dawning of Southern Christianity – represented most dramatically in Africa – affords the West an opportunity to glimpse, if not the substance of things hoped for, at least a ray or two to pierce the shadows that have fallen on Western Christianity. It would be a misunderstanding to think that this paper argues that the Eucharist in the West be reordered according to the African communal meal. The Eucharist is a robust symbol with multiple paradigms. The multivalent mystery of the meal must be acknowledged or it is not the Lord’s Supper. But insofar as the African experience offers a unique perspective on dimensions of the Eucharistic assembly, the world Church, and especially the West, stands to gain a great deal from dialogue with the African church. If the Spirit calls the Church Universal to a dynamic life and witness through the diversity of its many members, perhaps the African metaphor of “communal meal” offers valuable insights that will enrich Western Eucharistic celebrations and expand (deepen?) Western liturgical theologies. By listening to our African sisters and brothers, we may learn where our own theologies have been wrongly or excessively indigenized, resulting in ossification and impoverishment. By our conversations, we will help one another – in the fellowship of the Body of Christ – to grow together in unity. The African communitarian sense, through the Eucharist, may afford the churches of Christ a new way of working toward unity, without which the church’s voice is nothing but a discordant note to the rest of the world.
I am indebted to Lamin Sanneh, at Yale Divinity School, who first persuaded me that these facts provide a critical organizing framework for understanding the past, present and future of Christianity as a world religion.
David B. Barrett & Todd M. Johnson, “Statistical Table on Global Mission: 2004,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research28, no. 1 (2004): 23-26. With 2.1 billion adherents, Christianity is easily the largest religion, comprising 33% of the total world population. It is estimated that by 2025, 50% of the world Christian population will be in Africa and Latin America, and another 17% in Asia. The shift is even more pronounced in the Catholic Church, where it is predicted that by 2025, almost 75% of all Catholics will be found in Africa, Asia, & Latin America.
Philip Jenkins, “The Next Christianity,” Atlantic Monthly, October (2002): 54. Jenkins is professor of history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University.
Barrett & Johnson, 25. Christianity’s growth rates on the six continents are as follows: Africa (2.48%), Asia (1.64%), Oceania (1.19%), Latin America (1.14%), North America (0.81%), and Europe (-0.18%).
See Charles Taber, “The Limits of Indigenization,” Missiology: An International Review6, no. 1 (January 1978).
Frances Boston, Preparation for Christian Initiation(Kampala, Uganda: Gaba Publications, 1973), 53.
Chukwuma Okoye, “The Eucharist and African Culture,” African Ecclesial Review34 (1992): 278. Okoye is professor of biblical studies at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
E. Elochukwu Uzukwu, “Africa’s Right to be Different Part II: African Rites in the Making,” Bulletin de Théologie Africaine4, no. 8 (July-December 1982): 248. Uzukwu teaches liturgical and sacramental theology at Kimmage Mission Institute, Dublin, Ireland.
It is important to note here that some African traditional experiences, such as those in West Africa, draw upon the very different root metaphor of “sacrifice”. However, in East and Southern Africa, particularly among the Bantu, the root metaphor for the Eucharist is that of the gathered assembly. Exploration of the African Eucharist as sacrifice would also enrich western liturgical theology, however this is a topic for another paper.
Nlenanya Onwu, “The Eucharist as Covenant in the African Context,” Africa Theological Journal16, no. 2 (1987): 151-152. Onwu is a faculty member of the Department of Religion, University of Nigeria.
George Hunsinger, “The Bread That We Break: Toward a Chalcedonian Resolution of the Eucharistic Controversies,” The Princeton Seminary Bulletin, n.d., 255.
Joseph E. Ukpo, ed. “The Eucharist and Evangelization,” in The Second Nigerian National Eucharistic Congress Held in Owerrie 23-25 October 1992(Catholic Diocese of Ogoja, Nigeria), 16.
James Ault, African Christianity Project(Northampton, MA: James Ault Productions, 2001), video roughcuts.
Witchcraft, for instance, is commonplace in Africa and is a function of broken relationships in the community. Individual sins may have wide repercussions, as sins of one generation are inherited by the next. One person’s jealousy may inflict evil spirits upon another, and the sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons (as is the case of AIDS in Africa where women and children are often the victims of another’s sins). The African situation is strikingly familiar with the understanding of sin found in the Old Testament.
For instance, African Independent Churches owe much of their recent effectiveness to conscious dramatization and symbolization of God’s mighty presence. Okoye, 275.
Parts from Tovey, 141; as well as from A Service of Holy Eucharist of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Marquand Chapel worship bulletin, 16 April 2004, Yale Divinity School, New Haven.
Excerpts from An African Creed, cited in Donovan, 148.
Lamin Sanneh cited in Sarah Miller, “Global Gospel: Christianity is Alive and Well in the Southern Hemisphere,” Christian Century, July 17-30 (2002): 131.
Mpango, Gerard, Anglican Bishop of Western Tanganyika Diocese, Tanzania. Interview by author, 4 March 2004, New Haven. Tape recording. Overseas Ministry Study Center, New Haven.
Robert G. Garner, “Religion and AIDS in South Africa,” The Journal of Modern African Studies 38, no. 1 (2000): 42.
Matthew Kustenbauder is a MDiv student at Yale Divinity School and Yale Institute of Sacred Music, with a graduate concentration in African Studies. As an undergraduate student at Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania, he first encountered African Christianity on a semester abroad in East Africa. His interest in the intersection of theology, ritual, and culture have carried him back to the continent twice since then, most recently to examine independent church movements in western Kenya. Matthew and his wife, Alice, currently live in New Haven, Connecticut.