The World Convention is currently building a global reference for the nearly 180 countries where we know there are Christian – Churches of Christ – Disciples of Christ congregations. Rather than wait for comprehensive, complete information we are putting up details that we have readily available. If you can correct or add to this information, please contact us with details at firstname.lastname@example.org Reference for further information will be in the form of web sites and mailing addresses.
The West African nation of Gabon is bisected by the Equator. To the north lies Cameroon and to the east and the south is Congo. The tiny country of Equatorial Guinea is bordered by Gabon on two sides. Gabon is a large nation with an area of nearly 268,000 sq km (103,000 sq miles). The population, made up largely of Bantu Tribes, stands at about 1.3 million people making Gabon a rather sparsely populated country.
The area of Gabon was thought to be originally populated by Pygmies. The present population is largely descendant of Bantu ethnic groups which entered the area after 1300. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to stake a claim in the area, arriving in 1483. France gained control in 1842; the French Navy was pivotal in suppressing the slave trade out of Gabon. The French released captives at a place on the coast that was named Libreville (Libertyville), which later became the capital. Gabon achieved independence from France in 1966, though France has continued to play a role in the country’s politics and oil-based economy. Gabon introduced a multi-party system in 1991 which was designed to allow a greater political voice for the many ethnic groups. Gabon is a republic with a single legislative body known as the National Assembly. The people of Gabon speak French and due to over a century of French influence, the religious population of Gabon is more than 90% Christian.
Economically, Gabon is still largely under developed. Significant oil reserves and about a quarter of the world manganese deposits are important segments of Gabon’s domestic product. Still largely covered by tropical rain forest, Gabon exports valuable timber and wood products. Despite these resources, half of the population still survives as subsistence farmers.
Churches of Christ have been responsible for bringing the Stone-Campbell Movement to Gabon. Ghanaian Christians of the Churches of Christ were known to have entered Gabon in 1990. Every four years Churches of Christ in Africa host a conference known as Africans Claiming Africa for Christ (ACA). The purpose of the ACA movement is to mobilize Christians and churches in missions throughout the continent and beyond. A goal is that Africans themselves be the pioneer missionaries on the ground. After the first conference in 1992 members planted churches in several African nations, including Gabon.
American missionary, Dan McVey, assisted the African Christians with visitation and obtaining French-language materials; this was in 1995. Others who have assisted in Gabon have been Jerry L. Davidson, George Akpabli and Sylvain Arseneault.
In October of 1998 Reggie Thomas and Jim Boman evangelists of White Fields Overseas Evangelism made an exploratory trip to Libreville with the hopes of establishing a church. While in Gabon they became acquainted with Brother Felix, the minister of Eglise du Jesu Crist, a non-denominational congregation in Libreville. Thomas and Boman shared with Brother Felix the doctrinal points of New Testament Christianity and found that they were in one accord. Brother Felix invited White Fields to return to Gabon in the following year to preach an evangelistic crusade. In June of 1999 Reggie Thomas and song evangelist Barbara Barger returned to Gabon where a meeting was held in a local stadium. Afterwards, they remained for several days conducting teaching seminars. As a result of these meetings the congregation led by Brother Felix and another congregation decided to fellowship together and become Christian churches.
These congregations do not have a presence in Gabon.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1101 19th Avenue, South, Nashville, TN (USA) 37212, Telephone: 615 327 1444
Website: http://www.discipleshistory.org (provides links to other historical sites/databases).