Throngs of the Redeemed, in Lagos and beyond
The Redeemed Christian Church of God has 5 million members—66 years after it began.
Booming Christian numbers in Africa have produced many new denominations and sects, many of which will likely be short-lived. Some, though, seem set to become major players on the global stage. One denomination in particular almost epitomizes the process of globalization in religion: the Redeemed Christian Church of God, usually known as “the Redeemed.”
Founded in Nigeria in 1952 by Josiah Akindayomi, the church began as a quite stern group in the Aladura healing mode, firmly rooted in African, and particularly Yoruba, tradition. Papa Akindayomi preached in Yoruba and had his sermons translated into English. The church moved away from those roots and drew on more mainstream Pentecostal and holiness styles.
Beginning in 1981, with Pastor Enoch Adeboye as general overseer, the church launched a huge global expansion. Among other reforms, the church began ordaining women as pastors. It also made a concerted effort to target wealthier and better-educated people. The scope of his impact gives Pastor Adeboye, or “Daddy GO,” an assured place on the list of great modern-day Christian leaders.