Saved and Sanctified: The Rise of a Storefront Church in Great Migration Philadelphia

By Deidre Helen Crumbley | Go to book overview

2
CITY TALES

MOTHER BROWN EXPERIENCED a divine call to preach in Virginia. Similarly, many founding saints reported life-changing spiritual experiences that they had while still in their southern hometowns. However, it was in the northern urban center of Philadelphia that they answered their call to a life of holiness and, together, established an enduring religious institution. The story of The Church, then, is intimately bound up with the story of Philadelphia—its racial history, immigrant legacies, and unique place in the social history of the Black religious experience in America. Indeed, were this a drama rather than an academic study, Philadelphia would be listed among the dramatis personae, not merely as the setting.

This chapter relates the story of the city in terms of encounters, moving chronologically from encounters between African religious expression and European American Christianity to encounters between northern Black churches and the spirituality brought by southern Black migrants. It recounts Black citizens’ struggles with segregation in both employment and housing and their encounters with hostile White mobs, as well as interethnic encounters between Blacks and Jews. The social history of religious and community life in Philadelphia grounds and complements the life histories of founding saints told in “Saints Tales,” the chapter that follows this one.


Religious Encounters: African Spirituality, European American
Christianity, and Black Independent Churches

The racial history of Pennsylvania, particularly Philadelphia, is characterized by irony and contradiction. Pennsylvania was a slaveholding colony, but was also the home of Quaker-inspired antislavery activism. Philadelphia’s wealth was built upon trading in slave-produced commodities, and in 1700 one in ten residents was a slaveholder. William Penn, who gave the city its Greek-derived name, “City of Brotherly Love,” held slaves who toiled on his

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Saved and Sanctified: The Rise of a Storefront Church in Great Migration Philadelphia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - Call 1
  • 2 - City Tales 29
  • 3 - Saints Tales 49
  • 4 - Becoming Saints 107
  • 5 - Family 139
  • 6 - Response 165
  • Notes 175
  • Bibliography 187
  • Index 201
  • The History of African American Religions 212
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