News Details

01 June, 2017

Dissemination Conference

Nagel Research Book Project: ‘The Nation That Fears God Prospers’: A Zambian Pentecostal Theology of Nations

Northmead Assembly of God, Resource Centre

Saturday, May, 27 2017, Lusaka, Zambia

By: Dr Chammah J. Kaunda


On Saturday, 27 May 2017, we held the dissemination conference in Lusaka, Zambia. The John Templeton Foundation generously sponsored the research grant, through the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity under the theme: ‘Christianity and Social Change in Contemporary Africa’. The project research number is 2016-TH210.


The conference brought together over 18 Pentecostal-Charismatic churches and Roman Catholic Church from Lusaka and Copperbelt to respond and share their experiences, to learn from one another and to debate the future of Zambian Pentecostalism and politics. The conference utilized a round table approach and presentations to allow all participants to enter into practical discussion. A summarized report of the research findings was distributed to each participant over a month in advance and each participant was requested to write a one page reflective response on the findings.


The conference was a key activity for Zambian Pentecostalism, both as the first of its conference with a specific focus on its political engagement paradigms and as an introduction to new approaches. It also helped to look beneath the surface of the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation to explore its underpinnings and to learn from the diversity of experience that participants brought to the conference. The conference represented a wide range of participants - bishops, pastors, lecturers, researchers, students, laypersons who comprised of young people and women.


Feedback from the conference was very positive and gave some constructive direction on the findings. Participants were enthusiastic, arguing, stimulated, and greatly enjoyed the chance to hear perspectives from other people. It also initiated the opportunity to network and to learn from one another, and the chance to explore ideas that have potential to shape Pentecostal political involvement without watering down its spirituality.


Rev Derek Mutungu responded: “The conference was epochal and timely. We're not only dealing with an ideal of a Christian nation but a lived history, it's praxis, so we've lots to look deep, look back and look forward into. I am happy for the openness of everyone, the readiness to engage. The sense of mutual respect. You did well to bring others from the Catholic tradition articulate and able to dialogue with great meekness and receptivity … I was glad to have my perspectives challenged especially the correlation between the declaration and the roaring economy of the Christian nation era. It was a significant point I will give attention to.”


Many-expressed interest during the conference in finding a new venue or forming engaging further on the issues raised as some kind of platform in order to provide a way for dialogue and listen to each other. There was proposition for the Think Tank. The hope is that this new common table or forum could be created soon to provide a common platform to explore critical issues on Pentecostalism in Zambia. The conference participants requested that the rich and insightful responses they made be developed into book chapters for an edited monograph.


I think there was recognition that a day conference was enough time to begin engaging some of the issues in a systematic way.


I would like to immensely express my sincere thanks to sponsors – The Nagel Institute through Prof Joel Carpenter, Ms Nellie Kooistra and Prof Tite Tienou.


On behalf of everyone involved in organizing the conference, Bishop Joshua Banda for opening up the space for such critical engagement, Mr Andrew Muzumara for taking care of financial issues and most of all Mrs. Angela Chibwe, my Project Assistant from Northmead Assembly of God. We organized the conference with a primary objective to learn from each other.


I would also like to thank participants for giving their precious time, engaging so freely and making the conference a historic memorable and successful occasion.


I conclude with some comments from some respondents:


Rev Derek Mutungu

Kaunda’s theological analysis of the theo-politics of Zambia is both trendsetting and a landmine. It carries enough to trigger sharp debate on a matter of great historical significance for Zambia.


Fr. Bernhard Udelhoven

The call for more knowledge in the arena of political institutions contrasts somehow with the image that many non-Pentecostals have of the Pentecostal political imagination—as if prayers, fasting, exorcisms, and declarations by themselves will always come with predictable, empirical effects on political practice. Political leaders, including committed Christians, remain human, are tempted, and need institutional checks and balances.


Fr. Charles B. Chilufya

This book is one of great insight. By considering Pentecostalism’s relations with both elite and grassroots cultures, it offers insights into its capacity to renew politics as well as its capacity to weaken the church’s engagements with the State.

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