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

By Deidre Helen Crumbley | Go to book overview

3
SAINTS TALES

ALMOST ALL OF THE FOUNDING SAINTS migrated to Philadelphia from the South. When they were interviewed for this research project, they had risen to the office of elder, serving as the spiritual leaders of The Church, and ranged in age from seventy-six to ninety-eight. Some elders were talkative and others were laconic; some stayed on point, while others pursued lines of thought that produced rich and germane information. In presenting their stories, I have focused both on common experiences and on individual insights that illuminate the trajectory of lives marked by struggle and by faith.

The first narrative is that of the oldest elder interviewed for this work, who died before its publication; the last narrative is that of the oldest living elder. Because members of the Nichols family predominate in this group, narratives of elders who do not belong to this extended family are interspersed among them. The narrative of Elder Holly Nichols Stables appears before those of her siblings because her story grounds theirs. A recurring theme in the Nichols narratives concerns the interweaving of Black and White family histories in their southern hometown. All the elders’ narratives discuss the processes of chain migration to the North and of the spiritual journeys that led them to The Church. The chapter ends with an exploration of recurrent themes that “enflesh” the social-historical information about the Great Migration in the previous chapter.


Elder Hannah Pope Nichols (1915–2007)

“Honey, you don’t know the half!”

“Sturdy Welsh” and “Negro Scalawags”

In the middle of our interview, tears began to roll down Elder Hannah’s face. She explained that earlier that day she had seen a television spot for the Christian Children’s Fund. The pitiful conditions of these poor children, she

-49-

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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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