EVALUATING THE SHIFT FROM ANGLICANISM TO PENTECOSTALISM AMONG COMMUNICANTS IN NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

The migration of adherents to the Pentecostal branch of Christianity poses a growing concern for the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion (CONAC). Despite existing scholarly works addressing the general exodus from mainline denominations, including CONAC, there remains a gap in understanding the specific reasons behind the departure of previously devoted church members. This study addresses this gap by focusing on the migration of communicants, who are expected to be the most dedicated members according to CONAC’s constitutions and canons. Central to this investigation is the role of catechesis, the process by which communicants are shaped spiritually, transforming them into Christ’s image and nurturing their commitment to the Anglican Church, which serves as the context for their discipleship.

The study aims to answer several key questions: What draws Anglican communicants towards the Pentecostal denomination, despite their deep-rooted Anglican backgrounds and the substantial Anglican catechetical tradition? Why does the current CONAC catechism, the role of communicants, the depth of catechists’ spirituality, and worship fail to sufficiently retain members? Furthermore, why do attempts to incorporate Pentecostal practices as adaptations struggle to retain congregants? Lastly, what changes are necessary to minimize the migration from CONAC to the Pentecostal stream, retain existing members, and encourage the return of those who have departed?

Employing ethnographic research tools and focusing on both communicants who remain in CONAC and those who migrate to Pentecostalism, this study delves into the influence of catechesis, commitment to CONAC, and the appeal of Pentecostalism. The findings reveal that contrary to prevailing literature, the prosperity gospel plays a minor role in migration. Instead, the allure of Pentecostalism for communicants stems from its worship culture and the experience of the Holy Spirit’s power, aspects they perceive as lacking in CONAC. The study also highlights strengths and weaknesses in the catechetical process. Weaknesses expose flaws in the church’s disciple-making approach, while strengths equip communicants with a spirituality more readily found in the Pentecostal setting. Ironically, the very catechesis meant to foster committed Anglicans inadvertently contributes to migration.

The study’s conclusion centers on the implications for the catechetical process and the sufficiency of worship within CONAC to nurture committed members. It posits that the root issue of migration is not catechism itself, but its integration into lifelong discipleship for both clergy and laity. Catechesis, conceived as a contained process, should instead be embedded within a continual spiritual journey of discipleship. Communicants gravitate toward Pentecostal churches because they find there the means to express the commitment and spirituality instilled by Anglican catechesis but lacking in the Anglican Church. Hence, a revitalization of catechesis, harmonized with the worship and discipleship culture of the entire church, is advocated. The research and arguments presented suggest that such a renewal process could significantly mitigate the migration issue in many instances.

EVALUATING THE SHIFT FROM ANGLICANISM TO PENTECOSTALISM AMONG COMMUNICANTS IN NIGERIA. BIBLICAL STUDIES & THEOLOGY PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS

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