The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) was formed in 1977, in Brazil. It owes its origins to a successful evangelistic programme conducted by Bishop Robert McAlister, a Canadian missionary in the Pentecostal tradition. Edir Macedo – who went on to found UCKG – was one of the early converts. With the blessing of Bishop McAlister, he started to hold services under a small park shelter in Rio de Janeiro. His passion was to reach out to needy, less privileged people who were often excluded by established religions. As Pastor Macedo’s services grew in popularity, he used cinemas and local halls to accommodate growing congregations, attracting people from the streets to the expanding movement. Shortly afterwards the UCKG officially opened its first church inside a funeral parlour. Further church openings followed and the movement expanded nationally across Brazil. Today there are approximately 5,000 UCKG churches in Brazil, with the headquarters in Rio de Janeiro holding up to 12,000 people at a time. Following an exploratory visit to the USA, the UCKG was established in New York in 1986. Today there are churches in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Miami, Los Angeles and many other US cities. UCKG then developed its presence in Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala and Ecuador. There are also churches in Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana. In Europe, it is established in England, Portugal, Spain, France, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland and Poland. After the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the UCKG opened its doors in Germany and the end of communism enabled the church to provide churches for Russian and Romanian people. The first UCKG church in Africa opened in Angola in 1992. It is now active in South Africa, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Kenya, Lesotho, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Uganda and many other countries on the continent. In Asia, the UCKG is established in India, the Philippines and Japan, where the first 24-hour church is based. The UCKG is currently in over 100 countries and is still expanding.