Show Us How You Do It: Marshall Keeble and the Rise of Black Churches of Christ in the United States, 1914-1968

Show Us How You Do It: Marshall Keeble and the Rise of Black Churches of Christ in the United States, 1914-1968

Show Us How You Do It: Marshall Keeble and the Rise of Black Churches of Christ in the United States, 1914-1968

Show Us How You Do It: Marshall Keeble and the Rise of Black Churches of Christ in the United States, 1914-1968

Excerpt

Marshall Keeble came preaching and churches sprang up all over the
South. G. P. Bowser came preaching and Southwestern Christian Col
lege sprang up. That walking-Bible, R. N. Hogan, came preaching and
churches sprang up in Texas, Oklahoma, and California.

—Eugene Lawton, Fasten Your Seatbelts, Turbulence May Be Ahead

The renowned black preacher Eugene Lawton succinctly captured the impact and import of three of the preeminent evangelists in the history of African American Churches of Christ— Marshall Keeble, George P. Bowser, and R. N. Hogan— when he spoke of their preaching and church building. Lawton acknowledges that Keeble, more than any other person, drove the emergence of black Churches of Christ across the South. While such men as Bowser and Hogan contributed significantly to the rise of black Churches of Christ in the northern and western parts of the United States, neither matched Marshall Keeble's impressive work in the South and beyond. Almost like some divine magician, Keeble seemed to speak black congregations into existence. A careful examination of his singular career reveals what made him the most successful evangelist in the history of African American Churches of Christ, the complex ways in which he accomplished this, and how white Christians played roles in the origins and expansion of black Churches of Christ. Beyond these matters, such a study uncovers the contributions of Keeble's converts— his “sons”—in the stabilization of African American congregations in the South. Finally, it reveals to what degree altruism or racism supplied the impetus for the rise of black Churches of Christ in the southern states.

At one point during the throes of the Great Depression, white leaders in Churches of Christ gathered in southern California to celebrate and question Marshall Keeble. During a three-week evangelistic effort in Los Angeles, California, several white ministers, enthralled with Keeble's ability to transform people's lives, arranged this meeting at the Central Church of . . .

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