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From Migrants to Missionaries

Christians of African Origin in Germany


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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Part 2 - Challenges in the New Home 29


29 Part 2 - Challenges in the New Home I. Understanding Diaspora The traditional concept of "Diaspora" has been rather popular since the 1970s. People have recourse to it in numerous arts and cultural study disciplines when dealing more or less precisely with those ethnic communities which do not en- joy any territorial basis within a given State.1 In the early 1960s the term was already being used in connection with Afro-American communities in the USA, which remembered their African roots.2 Over the same period of time, i.e. in the 1960s and 1970s, Europe saw a strong wave of immigration by guest workers and refugees. The industrialized countries of the West which had so far been colonial rulers in most of these countries were now faced by a large number of migrants. The latter contributed largely to the ethnic and religious diversity of the Western host countries. Con- trary to many expectations, the migrants settled in the respective host countries on a longer-term basis and did not follow their original plans of re-migrating af- ter a lucrative phase of work. This development into ethnically and religiously pluralistic societies caused the term "Diaspora" to regain actuality. Nevertheless, the phenomenon of Diaspora and of the transculturality cou- pled with it is not limited to the modern or postmodern age, let alone to the 1960s to 1980s. In the following chapter I shall try to make this concept useful for application to Christianity of African origin in Germany, by referring back to the...

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