Black church

The term black church or African-American church refers to Christian churches that minister to predominantly African-American congregations in the United States. While some black churches belong to predominantly African-American denominations, such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), many black churches are members of predominantly white denominations, such as the United Church of Christ (which developed from the Congregational Church of New England.)

Most of the first black congregations and churches formed before 1800 were founded by free blacks - for example, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Petersburg, Virginia; and Savannah, Georgia. The oldest black Baptist church in Kentucky, and third oldest in the United States, was founded about 1790 by the slave Peter Durrett.

After slavery was abolished, freed blacks continued to establish separate congregations and church facilities, creating communities and worship in culturally distinct ways. They had already created a unique and empowering form of Christianity that creolized African spiritual traditions. In addition, segregationist attitudes in both the North and the South discouraged and, especially in the South, prevented African Americans from worshiping in the same churches as whites.

The tradition of African Americans worshiping together continued to develop during the late 19th century and continues to this day despite the decline of segregationist attitudes and the general acceptability of integrated worship. African-American churches have long been the centers of communities, serving as school sites in the early years after the Civil War, taking up social welfare functions, such as providing for the indigent, and going on to establish schools, orphanages and prison ministries. As a result, black churches have fostered strong community organizations and provided spiritual and political leadership, especially during the civil rights movement.

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