African Immigrants Change the Face of Christianity in America's Capitol

December 7, 2003

Source: The Washington Post

On December 7, 2003 The Washington Post reported on the rise of African Christianity in the D.C. area, a fact that is changing not only the face, but the sound of Christianity in America's capitol city. The Post recently described an African church service, reporting that '"the priest and congregation of more than 200 people, most of them African and Caribbean immigrants, burst into the song 'Jesus Never Fails.' Women wearing vibrantly patterned tunics danced down the center aisle. Two choir members shook castanets, and one man banged a small drum. A handful of older, white parishioners, who had started attending the church decades ago when it was a predominantly white crowd, refrained from clapping -- though they couldn't help but bob their heads to the beat. The scene at the 94-year-old Prince George's County church captured the distinctly African influence that is sweeping into many area worship services. Christianity is growing faster in Africa than on any other continent. And as the number of immigrants from Nigeria, Liberia, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone grows, the fervor of African worship is being infused into churches here. About 100,000 African-born people live in the Washington region, a major immigration hub that is home to about 10 percent of the total U.S. population of Africans. Scholars estimate that about half are Christians, and the rest are Muslims or practice indigenous African religions."