African Instituted churches

With the exception of Ethiopia, Christianity first came to most of sub-Saharan Africa when it was brought by missionaries from Western Europe and North America, especially in the 19th century. These missionaries generally tried to set up local congregations and church organisations along the lines of those they were familiar with in their home countries, but by the end of the 19th century many African Christians had formed independent denominations. Some, the so-called Ethiopians, tended to follow the pattern of church organisation bequeathed to them by the missionaries, and their desire for independence of control by foreign missionaries was a reaction against the racism that came to the fore in the age of the new imperialism - roughly between 1870 and the beginning of the First World War.

Most of the expansion of Christianity in Africa in the 20th century, especially the latter half of the century, has been the result of the missionary efforts of the African independent churches (sometimes called African instituted churches, or African indigenous churches).

See also the entry on African Instituted (Independent) Churches from the Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement (2002).