Christianity arrived in
the Gambia with Portuguese sailors in 1456 when
they sailed upriver and landed on James Island.
There are now over 120,000 Christians of various
denominations including Roman Catholics, various
protestant denominations including Methodists,
Anglicans, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, Seventh-Day
Adventists and others.
predictions that the community would eventually be
swamped by the Muslims majority
their total numbers have in fact grown. This has been helped by the
arrival of the
evangelical movements from other countries
including West Africa. They have spurred some people
with vigorous gospel speeches, local assistance, aid
and have built a number of places of worship and who
continue to get some willing converts.
Compared to the 19th and first
half of the 20th century the faith is less about
converting people than it is about re-enforcing the
faith, supporting charity work in villages, education and giving skills
assistance to help youth schemes. Today there is a
network of countrywide churches with the most
magnificent standing on Banjul's Daniel Goddard
St. (formerly Hagan Street) known locally as
"Cathedral". There are 42,500 Catholics who make up
2.4% of the population with a total of 24 priests and
just over over 55 parishes.
actively with Muslim communities all over the country
on various projects and even accept them in their
schools such as
St. Augustine's High. There is also
the Gambian Christian Council
which is composed of various
religions and denominations who discuss matters of common interest.
In the early 19th century the
religion got a boost when freed
slaves who were
converts came to settle in Gambia after the creation
of Bathurst on St. Mary's Island. In 1849 a
Catholic mission was
established in the settlement however, Catholicism
floundered for the next half a century until 1905
when the Irish father (Giovanni) John Meehan arrived
on the scene. In 1931 he created the Vicariate
Apostolic of Senegambia and separated it from Dakar.
In 1950 the Catholic population was just over 3,000.
1951 saw the Vicariate elevated to the Prefecture Apostolic of
Bathurst in Gambia and in 1957 to The Diocese of
Church is one of the earliest churches in Africa and
has a history going back to 1821 when John Baker and
John Morgan first arrived at
Tendaba where they found
a frosty reception. The later moved down
to Banjul to found Bathurst's first high school for
boys. In 1935 the Wesley Church was build in Macoumba
Jallow St. Later, chapels and churches appeared in
Georgetown and other areas of the
Kombo St. Mary District as well as up-river
The Church of England built the Anglican Cathedral of
St. Mary in 1901 and also proceeded to build
and other places of worship.
See also Aku people.