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

By Deidre Helen Crumbley | Go to book overview

4
BECOMING SAINTS

WHAT DOES IT MEAN to become a saint—ritually, symbolically, and culturally? For first-generation saints, becoming a saint entailed much more than just going to church. Furthermore, becoming a saint in this particular Sanctified faith community entails compliance with selected Levitical laws, a practice that is absent from many, if not most, Sanctified churches. Thus, this chapter starts by immersing the reader within the ritual experience of Sabbath worship. It then explores four elements of “being saved”: “keeping the commandments” (law); “being in but not of the world” (holiness); “rightly dividing the word of truth” (scripture); and “being filled with the Holy Ghost” (spirit). The chapter concludes with a diasporic reflection on cultural and historical sources of these beliefs and practices.


Going to Church

“Will a man rob God?” Mother Brown often posed this rhetorical question as tardy saints tried in vain to slip into the church after the sun had set and Sabbath had begun. Although this passage from Malachi 3:8 explicitly refers to robbing God of “tithes and offerings,” Mother Brown taught that being late for Sabbath was robbing God of time. Besides, to arrive late was to “break” the Sabbath, the fourth of the Ten Commandments, and to break one commandment is to be “guilty of all” (James 2:10–11).

There were two other Sabbath services the saints might choose to attend. However, during the late 1950s and early 1960s, when founding saints who had entered as young couples in the 1940s were raising their children in The Church, most saints attended all three services. Founding saints chose their jobs accordingly and, if necessary, made special arrangements with employers so that they could arrive at church just before sunset on Friday evening, attend Sabbath morning service at 9 a.m., and return for the Sabbath afternoon service at 3 p.m.

The set order of the service was familiar to the saints, although it varied

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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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