Liège, 14 November 2013

Both in Belgium and in Europe, debates about immigration are generally dominated by a problematized Islam which tends to overshadow the current religious pluralisation in our societies. However, since several decades multiple forms of religious recomposition have been taking place, in particular within the Christian field. In contrast with the decline of the traditional churches, a new dynamic can be observed as a consequence of migration and missionary movements (South-North and West-East), such as Pentecostal and Evangelical movements.

Pentecostalism(s) can be considered the main form of religious transnationalisation of the last century, with spectacular expansion in Africa and Latin America from the end of the 1960’s on. Due to this phenomenon, the centre of gravity of Christianity seems to have moved South in the last decades. But when we take a closer look, we are compelled to consider this centre as mobile and translocal as a consequence not only of incessant circulation of pastors, the networking logics of these churches and the increasing use of online and mobile communication technology.

Although the most dramatic recent transformations are largely due to intra-European or transnational migrations, European Pentecostal communities have also been influenced by campaigns of international evangelists or the retreat of North-American missionaries. Whether Belgian or migrant Churches, all have their peculiar origins and references, which make the current evangelical landscape in Belgium both diversified and atomised. As a result, it should be properly considered a plurality of Pentecostalisms and evangelical groups, which is irreducible to a homogeneous whole.

As such, religious practices and discourses differ due to both doctrinal diversity (Pentecostal, Evangelical, Charismatic, Neo-Pentecostal, etc.) and to the place given to geographic and social otherness, which one hopes either to conquer or to connect to.

During this study day, we aim to discuss the religious mutations that have occurred in Belgium during the last decades, through different forms of mobility: migration, intra- European mobility and the transformation of native Churches. In particular, we will examine how the tension between local community and globalisation, mobility and sedentarity, local belonging and transnational networks are brought about by these Churches.

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