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Report on the project-team meeting ‘transnational Nigerian Pentecostal churches in Europe’ and Norface conference in Lisbon 10th to 14th of November.

This November the three researchers of the Norface project on transnational Nigerian Pentecostal churches in Europe attended a conference organized by Norface, the sponsor of this project. The researchers are Richard Burgess from Birmingham, Anna Quaas from Heidelberg University and myself (Kim Knibbe) from Vu University in Amsterdam. The three of us are doing research on Nigerian Pentecostal churches in our respective countries. André Droogers, the principal investigator of the project also attended. An important reason to attend the conference was that it was an opportunity for the researchers of the project to meet each other and discuss findings so far as well as issues on how to operationalize the research questions.

Project meeting

It seems that there are very siginificant differences between the different countries: in England the RCCG is becoming more and more prominent in the public sphere, to the extent that last week prince Charles celebrated his birthday in the main parish in London. There are more than three hundred branches, although no-one seems to know the exact number. They are organized into smaller networks that are headed by charismatic leaders, but remain firmly part of the world-wide RCCG headed by Adeboye. In the UK, a significant problem is how to get an overview. We discussed Richard’s proposal to do a survey among the pastors.

In Germany, the RCCG is less widely spread, with about 6 parishes and certainly seems to be less prominent. However, Anna Quaas is also focusing on several other Nigerian Pentecostal churches, such as the Christ Apostolic Church. Her perspective has a more historical slant, and looks into two significant time periods for the formation of the RCCG and the CAC.  To gain an overview, she is maintaining a database of churches with Nigerian members in several parts of the country.

In the Netherlands, the RCCG has 19 parishes, one or more in every major city. The country has been subdivided into 5 zones. The Jesus House parish was founded directly from a parish in Nigeria, who also financed the first year of the pastoral couple who founded it. This parish is very lisbon team meeting insideactive in developing activities in the public sphere to evangelize and to raise money to buy the building where they are located. However, even before this parish was founded the RCCG in the Netherlands has been growing significantly since the late nineties, from one very small group in the Hague started by a Dutch lady who was sent from a parish in the UK, to 19 parishes at present. 

Because the circumstances in each country are very different, because of the qualitative emphasis of our the research project and because we as researchers take up different positions, standardization of methods is limited. E.g. a survey under pastors would not make much sense in Germany and the Netherlands becuase of the smaller numbers of people involved. However, we did decide to develop an observation form that we will all use during any activity we attend. Furthermore, we will use a shared document on the private section of the Glopent website to map networks.






The conference itself was something of a hybrid composed of three parts: there was one part dedicated to the projects that were financed by Norface under the call ‘Religion as a re-emerging social Force in Europe’? Two projects presented, and the rest had poster-presentations (as did we). It was very useful to meet the researchers of the other projects, especially since we are expected to cluster and develop joint activities. There are at least two projects that we can work with, one on African churches (not exclusively Pentecostal) and one on pilgrimage.

The second, and very large part of the conference was taken up by presentations of the policy-makers who created NORFACE as a common pot funding, using money from the 16 national research funds cooperating in Norface.

The third part of the conference was dedicated to what will be the next Norface call for proposals on migration. There was one very insightful presentation on what the gaps and challenges are in current migration research by Karen Phalet of Utrecht University. This call for proposals will be launched somewhere in 2008, so if anybody is planning to apply, start looking for partners across the borders!

norface 2007

It seems the ideal number is somewhere between 3 and 5 partners (keep updated via

Besides this ‘overview’ of migration research, there were several presentations by researchers from countries all over Europe. There was no single focus in these presentations, or significant contribitions to a theroetical debate.  

Despite the strange character of the conference it was very useful in terms of meeting people and developing ideas for cooperation between the projects already funded and for future research.

Contributed by:

Kim Knibbe

Groningen, the Netherlands
University of Groningen
last modified 2007-11-26 13:55