Picture by Kim Groop

An international conference organized by the Polin Institute of Åbo Akademi University

Espoo, Finland, 27th-30th August 2024

Pentecostalism is one of the most dynamic and influential forms of Christianity in contemporary Africa. It has been variously described as a response to modernity, a postmodern phenomenon itself, a revitalization movement, a return to the fundamental theology embodying the Third person of the Trinity, a source of hope, empowerment, a vehicle of social transformation, a challenge or concession to the postcolonial state, a recalibration of public religion, a power behind spiritual and socio-economic development in Africa today. Pentecostalism also reflects and mirrors the complex and often contradictory interactions between Christianity, African cultures, traditions, identities, and the very idea of the Church as a historic faith community.

This conference, aiming at producing an edited volume, invites contributions that explore the dialectics of Pentecostalism and Christianity in the postcolonial context of Africa. We are interested in papers that address questions such as:

  • How does Pentecostalism relate to the historical and contemporary expressions of Christianity in Africa, such as African Instituted Churches, revival movements, mainline denominations, and ecumenical initiatives?
  • How does Pentecostalism engage with postcolonial Africa’s political, economic, social, and cultural realities, such as democracy, development, poverty, gender, health, violence, migration, and media?
  • How does Pentecostalism articulate and negotiate its identity and mission in relation to other African religious traditions and movements, such as Islam, African traditional religions, new religious movements, and secularism?
  • How does Pentecostalism shape and challenge the theological and ethical discourses and practices of African Christianity, such as pneumatology, eschatology, soteriology, ecclesiology, spirituality, morality, and social justice?

This is an interdisciplinary project, and we welcome papers grounded in different disciplines and employing diverse methods and sources. We especially encourage papers based on empirical research and offering critical and constructive insights into the phenomenon of Pentecostalism in Africa.

Abstract submissions was due 30 April 2024 and is now closed. The deadline for preliminary papers (drafts) is 31 July 2024, and for full chapters (6000-8000 words, ready for submission to the publisher), it is 30 October 2024.

To register for the conference, please use this link. To submit your preliminary paper, please use this link.

The conference will be held at Backby Manor, Espoo, Finland https://www.backby.fi/en/

The conference fee, 580€, covers accommodation and full board during the conference.

Editors of the planned volume:

  • Elias K. Bongmba – Rice University
  • Martina Björkander – Åbo Akademi University
  • Peter White – Stellenbosch University


27th August

5 pm-7 pm  Arrivals and dinner

7 pm  Welcoming session: working methods, aims

Keynote: Prof Chammah Kaunda: The Charismatization of African Christianity: Challenges and opportunities for mission, theology and ecumenic

8 pm  Social evening

28th August

9 am-10:30 am  Session 1

Papers presented by Nimi Wariboko & Maria Frahm Arp

10:30 am -11 am Coffee break

11 am-12:30 pm Session 2

Papers presented by Peter White, Francis Benyah & Itohan Idumwonyi

12:30 pm-2 pm  Lunch

2 pm-3 pm  Keynote: Prof Elias Bongmba: Living in a complex world: How Pentecostalism intersects with and affects the socio-political and religious realities of contemporary Africa

3 pm-3:30 pm  Coffee break

3:30 pm-5 pm  Parallel paper sessions (by participants through the call of papers)

6 pm-7 pm  Dinner

8 pm  Social evening

29th August

9 am-10:30 am  Session 3

Papers presented by Henry Mbaya, Devaka Premawardhana & Martina Björkander

10:30 am-11 am  Coffee break

11 am-12:30 pm Parallel paper sessions (by participants through the call of papers)

12:30 pm-2 pm  Lunch

2 pm-3 pm  Keynote: Prof Maria Frahm-Arp: Decolonising the Self: Pentecostalism as a framework for self-reformulation and reconstruction in post-colonial South Africa

3 pm-6:30 pm  Helsinki sightseeing

6:30 pm-7:30 pm  Dinner

30th August

9 am-10 am  Session 4

Papers presented by Mika Vähäkangas & Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu

10 am-11 am Publishing workshop session

11 am-11:30 am Coffee break

11:30 am-12:30 pm Closing session

12:30 pm Lunch and departure