Classics in Spirituality, May 10: The Early Church in Africa

Classics in Spirituality is a regular feature of Cobblestone’s programming. This program is scheduled on first and second Mondays of each month (unless the first is a holiday) at 11 a.m. to noon. This year the series continues to be presented via Zoom; please contact us ( to receive the Zoom link. Videos of most past programs (since fall 2020) are posted on our Vimeo channel.

The video of this presentation is online. See The Early Church in Africa.

The Early Church in Africa, with Dr. Henry Thomas
May 10, 11 a.m. to Noon, via Zoom

Christianity today is a world religion. The Pew Research Center’s report on Global Christianity analyzes the size and distribution of the world’s Christian and finds that 61% of Christians live in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. The average World Christian is female, black, and lives in Brazilian or an African village. It is also important that we remember that Christianity in Africa is very old.

There is an African memory of Palestine that is at the core of early African understanding of Jesus. Indeed, Christianity almost began in Africa, growing from a brew of Semitic, Coptic, Berber and Bantu wisdom traditions.

This is one reason why John Mbiti called Christianity an Indigenous African Religion. For this presentation, Dr Henry Thomas will talk about five early Christian Churches in Africa beginning with Alexandria Egypt in 43 CE. Following this, he will talk about the Church in Carthage. The Roman army destroyed the city of Carthage in 146 BC, yet in fewer than 150 years a new city of Carthage rose from the ashes to become the capital of Africa Nova. Third, we turn to the Nubian Church, which is an outgrowth of the Church of Alexandria. This church reaches south of Egypt into the Sudan. The fourth African church we shall discuss is the Ethiopian Orthodox Church which traces its history back to ancient Judaism. Finally, we will discuss the Kongo Church which began in 1491.

Please come and join the meeting of Classics in Spirituality as Dr Thomas describes the fascinating histories of the various influential Christian churches in Africa.

Henry B. Thomas, Doctorate in Public Administration. Before retiring, Dr. Thomas was Associate Professor at the University of Northern Florida in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration. He simultaneously served as Executive Director of the Florida Center of Public & International Policy for several years. His career has included extensive public service and grassroots activism as well as scholarly research.

“A century ago, the Global North (commonly defined as North America, Europe, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand) contained more than four times as many Christians as the Global South (the rest of the world). Today, the Pew Forum study finds, more than 1.3 billion Christians live in the Global South [61% of all Christians live in Asia, Africa, and Latin America], compared with about 860 million in the Global North (39%).”   — Pew Report

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