arrived in the Gambia with Portuguese sailors in 1456
when they sailed upriver and landed on James Island.
There are now over 200,000 Christians of various denominations
including Roman Catholics, various protestant denominations
including Methodists, Anglicans, Jehovah's Witnesses,
Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists and others.
earlier predictions that the community would eventually
be swamped by the Muslim majority their total numbers
have in fact grown. This has been helped by the arrival
of the new 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.
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.
Christians work 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
The Methodist 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 Serrekunda,
Bakau, Georgetown and other areas of the Kombo St. Mary
District as well as up-river districts.
The Church of England built the Anglican Cathedral of
St. Mary in 1901 and also proceeded to build schools
and other places of worship.