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Professor Cephas Narh Omenyo

Contemporary African Christianity

Professor Cephas Narh Omenyo

Abstract

Prof. Cephas Narh Omenyo, Provost of the College of Education at the University of Ghana, has explicated important issues involving contemporary African Christianity. He acceded to the revitalization of a holistic education and theological training which would empower Christians to positively transform society, as well as to handle issues confronting the Church of today.

He noted this when he delivered his Inaugural Lecture on the topic, “Growth, Education and Transformation: Resilience of African Christianity?” in which he shared his research work and scholarly articles which have served as important contributions to the comparative study of Western and African Christian religion.

The lecture traversed a Eurocentric approach to African historiography; the tenacity of post-colonial African Christianity; African Christian Spirituality and African Initiated Christianity, Pentecostal/Charismatic Renewal; and the recent demographic shift of the centre of gravity of Christianity to the global South, particularly Africa.

Prof. Omenyo, in his presentation, indicated that Christianity has become the dominant religious influence among many African societies due to explosion of churches and the number of Christians doubling every 12 years since the mid-19th Century. He noted that this phenomenal growth has also been accompanied by major challenges that need to be addressed, if the Christian Faith is to be firmly rooted on the continent.

He touched on the recent inclination in which contemporary Christianity is blossoming in Africa at a period when it is experiencing recession in the West. Another significant aspect he noted, was the increasing number of African pastors who have taken initiatives to propagate the Gospel through transcultural missions in Europe and North America. He indicated that while Christian churches in Africa are raising funds to put up new chapels, expanding old ones, and refurbishing existing ones, churches in the West are being transformed into museums and other attractions.

He observed that these pursuits are largely characterized by most Pentecostal/Charismatic Renewal churches in Africa than anywhere else in the world, thus, making Africa in demographic terms, the heartland of Christianity in the 21st Century. He cited as instances, that there were more Anglicans in Nigeria than Anglicans in the United Kingdom and North America put together, with Nigerians having 17.5 million Anglicans while the United Kingdom and North America had 16.4 million. Another case in point was that Amsterdam City alone has more than 50 Ghanaian churches.

Prof. Omenyo further elaborated in his presentation the perspectives of prominent personalities, a reference point being the South African President Jacob Zuma’s address to a group of church leaders and members in South Africa. He articulated Jacob Zuma’s grief over the exponential growth of Christian churches in Africa, despite the increase in crime, immoral behaviour, poor work ethics, abduction and terrorism as well many other unreported atrocities.  

On the way forward, Prof. Omenyo suggested relevant and responsible theological education that considers the supply of well trained teachers. He further called for a thorough system of education that prioritizes the education of both girls and boys, while ensuring that training is not confined to the acquisition of academic knowledge alone, but both academic and vocational, as well as developing vernacular to be used as the medium of instruction.