There is a greater concentration of African Christianity in south London than anywhere in the world outside Africa, according to a senior academic. Most black churches in the London borough of Southwark are ‘Pentecostal’, featuring long services characterised by exuberant and often loud worship. Many of the pastors are first-generation migrants to Britain.
Andrew Rogers, a lecturer in practical theology at the University of Roehampton, says that the number of black majority churches in Southwark is so high that, at 240, they are nearly twice as numerous as all the other churches in the borough put together. Rogers adds that while it is generally acknowledged that black majority churches have enjoyed rapid growth in Southwark in recent decades, it is difficult to determine precisely why.
He notes that the London Church Census reported 58 per cent growth in total Pentecostal congregations in Southwark across 2005- 12 and a 44 per cent rise across Greater London. This comes against a trend of falling white congregations over a period when black African Christians grew by more than 100 per cent.
While Southwark may currently be the most intense case, there is also significant growth of black churches in cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham, and in other countries such as the Netherlands and in Germany. The fact that Southwark is ‘the African capital of the UK’ is one factor. Southwark is convenient, being close to central London, yet premises are still affordable. The ‘experiential focus’ of these Pentecostal churches is an important factor.
‘It is recognised, however, that few BMCs at present are managing to reach out beyond the black community,’ he writes. Although many of the new BMC leaders are recent immigrants from Africa, much of the growth has involved the harnessing of a larger proportion of the UK’s Black community which makes up 3% of the population in England and Wales, and 11% of the population of Greater London.
Source: Christian Today: London School of Economics
Bible Study: 1 Peter 2:11-12
JULY PRAY WIDER for failing congregations to reverse the trend, and for greater interaction between growing and failing churches. Give thanks for the exceptional growth in faith within BMC communities.