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From Migrants to Missionaries

Christians of African Origin in Germany

Series:

Benjamin Simon

The denominational plurality in continental Europe keeps growing. The churches of African origin are of increasing number. Seeking for a new identity in their new home, the concept of Diaspora and the question for legal issues get important for their identity. To what extent is their identity determined rather by seclusion or openness? Are the churches missionizing amongst Germans and are there ecumenical relations? What are the characteristics of such a new identity? How does it develop? By analyzing three different types of churches of African origin in the German context, especially by examining their sermons, the author demonstrates how those churches develop in a missionary direction and how they can become ecumenical partners.

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Introduction 1

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1 Introduction The Ecclesial Environment For many years the ecclesiastical landscape in continental Europe was deter- mined by the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church. It seemed as if these two church-groups were the only players on the stage; other denomina- tions hardly mattered. Even where others existed, they were ignored and mar- ginalized. Due to the change the two large churches are undergoing and which expresses itself in the altered role of the churches in society, as well as in their decreasing membership, and due to the increasing appearance of "churches and congrega- tions of other languages or origins"1, a change of mind has taken place over the past 10 years. The "smaller" denominations are gradually moving towards the focus of attention of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches. These two major churches are beginning to take leave of their "monocultural way of thin- king" 2 and are now aware that other denominations, of local or foreign prove- nance, have become a firm part of the ecclesiastical landscape as well as an ecumenical challenge at the beginning of the 21st century. They cannot be met with arrogance, pride or ignorance but only with the certainty of pursuing com- mon aims and on the condition that one can learn from the other. The arrogance of the established churches may express itself more strongly or more faintly, depending on the country of origin and the theological conviction of the denomination concerned. Among the "churches and congregations of other languages...

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