Churches growing in Asia, Africa

Published January 2, 2008

Asia and Africa may become the centre of gravity for 21st century Christianity, says World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Samuel Kobia, who challenged Philippine church leaders to prepare for this shift.

“Christianity is declining in Europe but growing in Asia and Africa,” Mr. Kobia, a Methodist from Kenya, told bishops and other church leaders recently in Manila. He said the situation raised at least two questions: “What kind of Christianity can we have in the future?” and, “Will the churches from Asia and Africa re-evangelize Europe?”

The WCC leader said that church buildings in Europe were being sold and converted into mosques, hotels, restaurants and other commercial centres.

On the other hand, Filipino churches had begun to spread their reach overseas as they sought to minister to legions of Filipinos seeking overseas jobs, said the WCC general secretary.

Mr. Kobia and a WCC team were on a visit to this predominantly Roman Catholic Southeast Asian nation of 86 million people. He was speaking to the leaders of the member churches of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, which groups mainly Protestant and Anglican denominations.

During the meeting, Rev. Joel del Rosario of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines reported how his denomination is working with Roman Catholic priests to help address the concerns of overseas Filipino workers.

“At the same time, we have to address the continuing concern for the spirituality of our overseas workers,” he added, citing the psychological effects of separation, with which, he said, both the worker and his or her family have to live.

There are about 10 million overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East, Hong Kong, Europe, the United States, Canada and other places around the world.


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