Global Nomads: Identity and Assimilation of 1.5 and second- generation Ethiopians in the United States

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Practical Theology

First Advisor

Douglas Rutt


The goal of this research was to gain insight concerning what an effective Christian ministry to 1.5 and second-generation Ethiopian immigrants looks like by investigating and understanding the social and cultural identity of the group.

The study had a pilot project followed by the main research. Semi-structured interview questions were used both for the pilot project and main research. The pilot project was limited to five participants who were later re-interviewed for the main research. The purpose of the pilot project was to test the protocol questions and learn to formulate better research, operational and protocol questions. The main research involved twenty-five individuals

Four research questions guided the study: 1) How do 1.5 and second-generation Ethiopians experience and describe their ethnicity in America? 2) How do 1.5 and second-generation Ethiopians in America describe the identity shaping impact of the host society? 3) How do 1.5 and second-generation Ethiopians in America describe the impact of their ethnic community and the host society on their identity? 4) How do 1.5 and second-generation Ethiopian immigrants describe their Christian religious experience?

Significant findings were uncovered from the data that guides effective ministry developments for this population. The research has made it abundantly clear that what this population needs is a "church of their own." The term "a church of their own" is not used in the sense of a segregated second-generation Ethiopian immigrant church. Rather, it is to indicate a church separate from the first-generation immigrant group and one that is multiethnic.

Therefore, because this is urgent and crucial, first-generation Ethiopian churches need to make the planting and development of 1.5 and second-generation churches a priority, regardless of the social and emotional challenge this entails. This is critical for the growth and missionary future of the newly planted churches that will be appealing beyond the immigrant population and making headway into the larger host society, which is increasingly becoming multicultural. It is apparent that the socio-cu1tural experience and hybrid identity of 1.5 and second-generation Ethiopian Christians positions this group on a much larger platform to advance the cause of Christ in this country far more than their parents. Recommendations to the first-generation churches as to where to begin and helpful actionable ideas for planting successful multiethnic 1.5 and second- generation churches are included.


If you are not a patron of the Concordia Seminary Library this dissertation is available from the "Theological Research Exchange Network" at http://tren.com/.