Glossary of Terms

Aladura Churches in Nigeria

The Aladura churches are independent African churches (or African Instituted Churches—AICs), that emphasize prayer and healing. Aladura is the Yoruba word for “praying people.” The Aladura churches reflect the indigenization of Christianity through its use of African symbols, traditional healing modalities, and worship styles.

Where earlier churches emphasized salvation in the hereafter, the Aladura churches offer solutions to this-world...

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Anglicanism in Nigeria

Anglicanism is a Protestant Christian tradition that emerged during the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. It includes the Church of England and a variety of others around the world united by shared doctrine and practice under the Anglican Communion umbrella organization. The Archbishop of Canterbury is regarded as the unofficial spiritual leader of the international Anglican community.

The Anglican Church Mission Society (CMS) members Samuel Ajayi Crowther—who would become Nigeria’s first African Anglican bishop—and Rev. J.F. Schön were part of the original British First...

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In classical Greek, the term means “one who is sent away” as a messenger. In Christianity, the term is often used interchangeably with “disciple” but some scholars interpret Pentecost as a turning point in converting disciples or followers of ...

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Apostle’s Creed

This is the Roman Catholic version of the Creed. Different Protestant and Orthodox communities have slightly altered wording.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living...

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Assembly of God

The Assembly of God is Brazil’s largest Pentecostal church, claiming more than 14 million members. Part of the first wave of Pentecostal churches, two Swedish missionaries from Chicago introduced the church to northern Brazil in the 1910s and it retains a headquarters in Belém. Unlike other imports, the church empowered Brazilian converts from its first days and relied on Brazilians to evangelize their compatriots. Brazilians served as church...

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A Roman Catholic order named after St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) and founded in the Thirteenth Century.


In the context of Christianity, an autocephalous church is one in which the Bishop or Patriarch is the highest ranking religious authority and does not report to any ecclesiastical authority above him. It is common designation among Eastern Orthodox churches.


A ritual practice of cleansing and spiritual renewal. For Jews in Jesus’ time, the ritual of tvila was practiced by converts to Judaism and used for other forms of ritual cleansing. In the Gospel accounts, Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist, an itinerant preacher and one foretelling of the coming of the “Messiah” or anointed one. Many...

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Baptist Christianity in Nigeria

There are roughly 14 million Baptists in Nigeria, most of whom are affiliated with churches under the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), an umbrella organization that grew out of missionary work begun in the 1850s by the American Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

American Baptist missionaries began arriving in what would come to be Nigeria in 1850, and included both white and black missionaries. White missionaries were initially deterred by work in Africa and instead focused on Asia, with racism being a considerable factor, followed by fears of malaria. As a result, early...

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Brazilian Conference of Bishops

The Brazilian Conference of Bishops (CNBB) was founded in 1952 by a group of bishops who were deeply critical of the economic and political status quo. This perspective grew out of the bishops’ backgrounds, many of whom were from poorer, rural states, but was also related to independent funding received from European Catholic organizations that allowed for autonomy from the state. The CNBB advanced the adoption of Paulo Freire’s model of “critical consciousness,”...

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Byzantine Empire

The Eastern portions of the Roman Empire that survived the fall of Rome and flourished until the Ottoman invasion of the capital Constantinople in 1453. 

Catholicism in France

Catholicism is the majority religion in France, though small numbers—roughly 4.5% of Catholics—attend mass and overall, adherence to Catholicism is declining. Roman Catholicism was the state religion of France beginning with the conversion of King Clovis I (d. 511) until the French Revolution, when the Church’s relationship with the state was radically redefined.

The close connection between the French monarchy and the Catholic Church began during the reign of Charlemagne (d. 814), who was the first to receive a papal coronation in the year 800. Through the coming centuries, the...

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Catholicism in Myanmar

Roman Catholicism arrived in Myanmar with the Portuguese in the 16th century. Burmese descendants of the Portuguese, known as Bayingyi (derived from the Persian farenji, “foreigner” a term used widely throughout the Indian Ocean region and a legacy of the Crusades), make up the oldest Catholic community. 90% of Burmese Catholics come from the Karen, Chin, Kachin, Chin, Shan...

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Catholicism in Nigeria

Catholicism arrived in the territory that would come to be known as Nigeria with Portuguese explorers in the 15th century, though their missionary efforts were largely unsuccessful and Catholicism virtually disappeared by the 17th century. Modern Catholic missions were established by priests from the Society of African Missions of Lyon in 1865, beginning in Lagos, and a vicariate was established in Benin in 1870. By 1920, numerous missions had appeared throughout Igboland, eventually outnumbering Anglican Church Missionary Society missions. Holy Ghost priests and priests from the St....

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Catholicism in the Philippines

Since the colonial period, Catholicism has been the cornerstone of Filipino identity for millions in the Philippines. Catholicism rapidly spread during the early years of Spanish colonialism, in part due to a lack of otherwise centralized religious institutions, other than Islam in the south, which might have challenged it. Its close associations with Filipino identity have placed the Catholic Church at the heart of nationalism, social justice, and other movements, while at the same time has been associated with power, elitism, and exploitation at various points in its history.


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A Catholicosate is an area of ecclesiastical jurisdiction overseen by a Catholicos, a religious leader within an Eastern Christian tradition, including among Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Christians.


The English version of a Greek translation (Χριστός) of the Hebrew “Messiah” or anointed one. Christians use the term as both a title, Christ Jesus, and a name, Jesus Christ to represent their belief that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah that Jews believe will be sent by God to act of their behalf. 

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