Baptist Convention of Angola
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The Baptist Convention of Angola is an organization made up of many Baptist Churches in Angola and has its headquarters in Luanda. It is smaller than the other group of Baptist congregations in the country, the Evangelical Baptist Church of Angola.
Founded in 1942 through the work of Portuguese missionaries, the Baptist denomination spread rapidly throughout the country with the support of Angolan evangelists and encouragement from North American missionaries who arrived in the central region of Angola during the same decade. Separate from the Evangelical Baptist Church in Angola, whose association is historically identified with the northern provinces of Angola (particularly the province of Zaire), the Baptist Convention of Angola has maintained a distinctive multi-ethnic character with an active ministry functioning in ten of the eighteen Angolan provinces since the time of Portuguese colonization.
After the war for independence ended in 1975, the Convention had a period of natural stagnation owing to the civil war that dominated the next three decades. In part this stagnation was due to the forced abandonment of the country by the missionary forces from America, Portugal, Denmark and Brazil who, up to that point had led the evangelistic spread of Christianity among the Baptist churches. As a result of the lack of trained nationals (no Angolan Baptist pastor had formal training in theology or as pastors) for the conduct of evangelism, the denomination did not exceed 27 churches between 1970 and the end of 1980. This situation began to change in the mid-1980s with the return to Angola of American and Brazilian missionaries and with the consequent initiation of a Mobile Bible Institute (directed by missionary pastor Curtis Dixon). This Mobile Bible Institute played an important part in the awakening of vocational service among Angolans and the training of leaders that became evangelists and pastors in the years after 1990.
The first three Angolan pastors completing Bachelor’s degrees in Theology (Pastor Mário Vontade, Pastor João César and Pastor David Nkosi) returned to the Baptist Convention in 1988 after four years of study at the Baptist Seminary of Zimbabwe. After this, other pastors received Bachelors and Masters in Theology in Brazil and Portugal helping to minimize the shortage of leaders as they returned to Angola.
The Baptist Convention of Angola today has 315 congregations and about 40,000 members spread throughout the country. It maintains two theological seminaries in the provinces of Luanda and Huambo. With the opening of the country, following the peace in 2002, the Baptist Convention of Angola has worked to build its presence in Angola and to stimulate its evangelical impact. Toward this end the Convention launched a project in 2005 called “Movement for the Planting of churches”. This project intends the planting of 1340 new churches before 2017 – an ambitious project whose realization depends on the commitment of the current leadership, on the strengthening of Baptist national identity, and on the development of new leaders which would include the necessary success in terms of theological and pastoral training.
One of the major deficiencies of the churches associated with the Baptist Convention is the lack of infrastructure. Contrary to what happened in other parts of the third world, where American and English missionaries built and left behind church buildings, schools, hospitals and orphanages only the First Baptist Church of Luanda possesses a building of historic architectural value. Other important churches, pastored by historic leaders, function in small buildings without space to expand. This problem is even worse in villages and smaller towns where the members are forced to meet under the shade of trees or grass roofs. Land for the construction of churches is extremely costly.
The current president is Pastor Mateus Chaves and the secretary general is Pastor Alexandre Melo Chilanda.