Our Cause for His Glory: Christianisation and Emancipation in Jamaica

Our Cause for His Glory: Christianisation and Emancipation in Jamaica

Our Cause for His Glory: Christianisation and Emancipation in Jamaica

Our Cause for His Glory: Christianisation and Emancipation in Jamaica

Synopsis

A comprehensive historical study that describes the varied and various encounters of the Jamaican people with Christianity in the thirty years following emancipation as enslaved peoples under British colonialism. An excellent and resourceful guide for students of history and theology in particular and post-emancipation Caribbean studies in general.

Excerpt

This is a second study concerning the Christianisation of Jamaica.The focus of both studies is the response of the Jamaican population to their varied encounter with the Christian religion. The first dealt with the impact of a missionary effort during slavery. Three Moravian brothers arrived from Europe in 1754; the first black preachers from the southern states of America appeared from 1783 onwards. These were the pioneering Christian preachers from overseas. Emphatically, however, most Jamaicans first encountered Christianity through a much larger number of native leaders, deacons, elders, aids, variously named, and appointed by all missionary groups as a method of spreading the word as widely as possible. This was the practical method of proselytisation of all groups, both European missionary led and black American preacher led. The practice gave scope for Jamaican Christian initiatives in crowded city chapels and in scattered estate prayer groups alike. Their "hearers" were slave and free, and leaders and led interpreted the religious message in Jamaican forms of communication from the beginning.

Where slaves heard the teaching they were attracted to a religion which recognised their humanity, made many transfer their "ownership" to God rather than to their earthly masters, and reinforced their African belief in life after death. For free coloureds and blacks, who increased steadily in numbers as emancipation approached, the dissenting missions provided an arena for self-expression and the exercise of responsibility which they did not achieve in political life until 1831. In the scattered native Baptist groups originated by the American black Baptist preachers, particularly in the western parishes, a comparable initiative was organised in communication sustained by travelling preachers and their local leaders . . .

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