Fortress Introduction to Black Church History

Fortress Introduction to Black Church History

Fortress Introduction to Black Church History

Fortress Introduction to Black Church History


"This history, co-authored by a black minister and a black theologian, provides an overview of the shape and history of major black religious bodies: Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal. With photos, timelines, profiles, and additional readings, Pinn and Pinn ably explain the evolution of black Christianity into the groups we know today. A final chapter sketches the state of black Christian church bodies and their ongoing contributions to a more just American society. The Pinns's book will help a new generation of black Americans assess the religious legacy of the black churches and the larger society to gauge their social import." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Obscure in origin, secret in development, rich and complex in its flowering, the oldest and most influential institution in African American life remains the Black Church. In fact, the African American engagement with Christianity has not only shaped, consoled, and empowered a people caught in slavery for more than two centuries, it has also captured and emboldened their spirit in such a way as to engender profound social change across all of America.

What has inspired and enabled this movement? How has it interacted with white Christianity and with other elements in American life? Who were its chief prophets and lights? How have its roots shaped its present social agenda? Where is it headed? To answer these questions, this little volume traces the story, the spirit, the ideas, and the activities of African American Christianity, especially in its inception as a slave religion and its development after the Civil War in seven of the largest denominational bodies.

As Americans come to appreciate the crucial role of African American Christianity in our society, and as black people themselves become more curious about their religious roots, we hope this book can help. It sketches the main historical turns of the Black Church, profiles prominent historical figures, and gives the reader a sense of the underlying commitments, community life, and contests that animate these traditions. As an introduction, penned by a clergywoman and an academic, our survey relies on and disseminates the more technical and in-depth work of others.

Further, African American Christianity is also richly diverse and constantly evolving. There is no monolithic Black Church. The movements and church bodies whose stories we tell in this volume— mainly Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal—are carriers of some of the main traditions, but there are many others, including African American Catholicism, blacks in the United Methodist Church, and blacks in a host of other Pentecostal traditions. Our brief survey can offer only a sampling of the varieties of African American church life . . .

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