Pentecostalism and the further fragmentation of christianity: an investigation of the factors contributing to the establishment of new churches in Belhar since 2000
Anofuechi, Benson Onyekachukwu
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Christianity has been diverse from its beginning, with local congregations established in different geographic contexts. Over the centuries it has been, and still is, subject to further fragmentation. The rise of Pentecostalism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century has led to further fragmentation, also in South Africa. This study will contribute to the sub-discipline of contemporary church history by examining the ecumenical relationships between local churches. It will investigate the ongoing fragmentation of Christianity through the establishment of twelve new Pentecostal churches in the suburb of Belhar since the start of the century (2000-2013). These include: Breakthrough Christian Church, City of Grace (Living Waters) Community Centre, Philia Community Worship Centre, Logos Assembly of God Ministries, Belhar Lighthouse Family Church, Living Word and Faith Temple Church, Open Doors Full Gospel Church, Faith Christian Fellowship Church, New Birth Pentecostal Church, Moria Gemeentes Church, Edon Elohim Pentecostal Ministries and Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ. The questions that will be posed in this study are why such churches came into being, what attracts members to these newly established churches and how they understand the relationships with other Pentecostal churches and so-called mainline churches in Belhar and further afield. The research problem that will therefore be addressed is: “What are the factors contributing to the continual fragmentation of Christian churches in Belhar from 2000 to 2013?” By documenting the establishment, growth and ecumenical relations of such churches, this study will seek to enhance the understanding of the factors that led to further and rapid fragmentation of Christianity in South Africa.