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April 12, 2021
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Is African Christianity carrying within it the embodied joy of World Christianity? – Sojourners

Like the African spirituality continuous within it, African Christianity builds and nurtures on the conscious cultivation and mobilization of spiritual power as a resource for the management of reality. In fact, every religion is ideally about divine supernatural powers manifesting in natural reality. However, effective cultivation of religious power demands the crucial instrument of “embodied joy.” But is the almost irrepressible embodiment of joy functioning well for African Christianity to unlock truly divine powers capable of positive transformation of the African peoples and reality?

One year ago this week, I walked into the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, completing my pilgrimage there. This week I witnessed a different pilgrimage as about 100,000 people made their way to Mount Tabieorar, in Ogere Remo, Nigeria. They clothed themselves with white robes, took off their shoes, danced, sang, and prayed through the night and into the early morning with uninhibited joy. This was the 83rd time the Tabieorar celebration has gathered in this holy space.

In 1937, Prophet Josiah O. Ositelu received a revelation that he should proceed to this place, which then became named Mount Tabieorar, for 13 days of prayer and fasting, and then invite the public in order to share the fruits and message from this time. 12 years earlier, as a young Catechist in the Anglican Mission, he experienced an encounter with the Holy Spirit that sent him into a ministry of healing and preaching but resulted in his excommunication from the Anglican Church. In 1930, he formally established the Church of the Lord Aladura, which means “praying fellowship.” One of its tenets is that God can be worshipped within the culture of local people and not only in the culture of Western missionaries. The church also asserted that men and women could be called into the priesthood.

This is an example of an “African Instituted Church,” meaning a church begun in Africa by Africans, rather than begun by outside missionaries. Many had roots and association with anti-colonial movements. Today, hundreds of such denominations, and hundreds of thousands of their congregations, are found throughout Africa comprising an important component of Christianity in the continent. But because of their independence from the Western missionary movement, they have been largely off the radar of most within Western Christianity.

Read the full article titled, The Embodied Joy of the Global Church | Sojourners

Wesley Granberg-Michaelson is a former general secretary of the Reformed Church in America and contributing editor Sojourner

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