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Burlacioiu, Ciprian (2016): Expansion Without Western Mission and Constructing Confessional Identities: The African Orthodox Church between the United States, South Africa and East Africa (1921–1940). In: Journal of World Christianity, Vol. 6, Nr. 1: S. 82-98




The African Orthodox Church (AOC) is a prime example of religious globalization beyond Western missionary communication networks. This black independent church was founded in New York in 1921 and spread rapidly as far as South Africa, East Africa, and even select areas of West Africa—though not as the result of organized mission work but, rather, through reporting in African American journal publications. Typologically, the AOC belongs to Ethiopianism. Yet this church defined itself in relation to the Eastern Orthodox tradition, although initially more in an imaginary way than in a real one. This contribution on the AOC illustrates several key points for the study of world Christianity: the need of a transregional perspective, the importance of non-Western agency, the role of media for transatlantic non-Western Christian networks already back in the 1920s, the role of Eastern churches in the emerging world Christianity, the dynamic formation of denominational identities, and so on.