Centre for Religion and Public Life Research Seminar with Dr Abel Ugba: Divine Healing by Pentecostal Africans in a ‘secular’ Britain

The Creative Appropriation of Divine Healing by Pentecostal Africans in a ‘secular’ Britain

Research seminar presentation by Dr Abel Ugba, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds

The emphasis on healing is one of the key features of African Pentecostalism. Yet some methods used by Pentecostals in Africa to perform healing have drawn the ire of the law when replicated in Britain, while botched attempts at healing have resulted in demonization of these churches and accusations of witchcraft and child sacrifice. Church officials have even been arrested and prosecuted for performing divine healings in ways that contradicted societal norms.

Given these complexities, this paper articulates a nuanced interpretation of the views of Britain’s Pentecostal Africans towards divine healing. It also highlights the various ways they innovatively adopt and adapt their practice of healing to conform to the norms of a secular society, while simultaneously resisting them. The paper is based on ethnographic observation of two churches in London and semi-structured interviews with 12 officials and members. This investigation is part of a transnational project on the contemporary divine healing practices of Pentecostals in Britain, South Africa, Kenya and Uganda.

This event is open to all with an interest in the subject.