Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Word Made Global: Stories of African Christianity in New York City

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Word Made Global: Stories of African Christianity in New York City

Article excerpt

Word Made Global: Stories of African Christianity in New York City. By Mark R. Gornik. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2011, Pp. xiii, 348. $30.00.)

Mark Gornik's Word Made Global offers an unusual combination of ethnography and theological reflection. Gornik, a pastor and seminary professor, based this work on five years of ethnography with three West African immigrant churches in New York: the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, The Church of the Lord (Aladura), and the Redeemed Christian Church of God International. He brings his ethnographic material into conversation with the theoretical literature on religion and globalization, arguing that African Christianity is a mobile presence and vital force in our globalized world. In addition to his theoretical analysis, at several points in the book Gornik turns to theological and ecclesiological analysis, exploring "what ... the stories and practices of African Christianity have to teach the West" (5).

The book is organized thematically. Chapter 1, "Bom Again in the City," describes New York as a global city and surveys African churches there. Chapter 2, "Pastors at Work," offers the stories of the three pastors Gornik worked with, then examines roles they share-such as spiritual directors, healing agents, and cultural intermediaries. In Chapter 3, "Liturgy and Life," Gornik presents an overview of the character of the three churches, then takes them together as a case study illustrating the ways that globalization is multifaceted and network-driven. Chapter 4, "Praying Bodies," stresses the centrality of prayer for African Christians and describes patterns and meanings of prayer across the three churches, concluding that prayer serves as a source of power for life in the global city. In Chapter 5, "Reading in Motion," Gornik explores how the Bible is read, performed, and believed in these churches, offering a fresh analysis of the diverse ways these churches and their members "read and use" the Bible (163). In Chapter 6, "Witnesses in the City," Gornik presents a broad and holistic approach to mission as he describes the distinct ways mission is lived out among these three faith communities: as church planting; as active care for members in hard times; and as praying fervently and faithfully for the wider community and world. …

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