Transnational pentekostalisme – Et studie af ghanesiske medlemmer af pentekostale kirker i Europa og Ghana med fokus på netværk og familierelationer


Start date: 31 December, 2003 End date: 30 December, 2008 Project type: Smaller projects: PhD Project code: 874-RUC Countries: Ghana Thematic areas: Agricultural production, Lead institution: Roskilde University (RUC), Denmark Project coordinator: Karen Lauterbach Total grant: 264,186 DKK

Project summary

This thesis is an account and analysis of pastorship in neo-Pentecostal/charismatic churches in southern Ghana, more particularly in Asante. It is an investigation of how and why Ghanaian pastors become pastors and how this process is a way to achieve status, wealth and power. The thesis explores the interactions between religion, social ascension and politics as expressed in the construction and meaning of pastorship. The proliferation of Pentecostal churches in Ghana has taken place since the 1960s. In particular the so-called neo-Pentecostal/charismatic churches have become widespread and significant since the 1980s. These churches are typically smaller independent churches that are organised around one pastor. They are popularly known as ‘one-man churches’. Pastors are icons of success and power and are new inventions of ‘big men’. Pastors as new figures of success is seen as part of a broader pattern of reconfiguration of elites that has come with the expansion of the public sphere and political and economic liberalisation. The perspective of this thesis is not that of the big superstar pastors of the mega-churches in Accra. Rather, this thesis looks at the up-coming middle level pastors in smaller churches in and around Kumasi that conduct their Sunday services in class rooms, garages and storerooms. The thesis argues that becoming a pastor is an alternative career trajectory that permits pastors to ascend socially. In order to make their careers pastors engage in social networks both within and outside the church. It is exactly their ability to navigate within a religious setting in combination with their engagement in social networks outside the church that make pastors successful. The thesis has a historical perspective in the sense that it takes into account the historical context in which neo-Pentecostal churches in Kumasi are embedded. In the second chapter I outline how religion and politics have been interlinked in Asante. The third chapter analyses the neo-Pentecostal doctrine on wealth and prosperity and argues that this is attractive to both members and pastors, but also that the usual way of perceiving prosperity as merely money is too narrow. We need to have a broader understanding of wealth when trying to grasp why it is attractive to become a pastor and establish a church in a garage. Moreover, the thesis looks at the internal dynamics of pastorship (chapter four) as well as different trajectories of becoming a pastor (chapter five). Chapter six is an analysis of a funeral of a bishop from a Ghanaian neo-Pentecostal/charismatic church. The funeral is approached as a social situation that provides insights into the mechanisms and processes of becoming and being a big ‘man of God’. The thesis concludes that the new pastors of Ghana’s neo-Pentecostal/charismatic churches reinvent the role of religious leaders; they provide religious services and access to spiritual powers. At the same time, pastors perform in ways that draw on a repertoire of forms of political leadership. Pastors operate in and between different platforms, and hence become ‘big’ in more than just the church. As they build up their positions as pastors they also obtain and build status, wealth and power in other platforms. Hence, becoming a pastor is seen as a way of ascending hierarchies and exercising multiple forms of authority. Religious leadership translates into other types of leadership. There is a fluidity and informality about these leadership positions that make them different from former positions of power.

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