The Founding of the Black Church in America

What led to the establishment of the black church in America?

During Colonial America blacks were only minimally touched by Christianity. Church membership was available only to “free Blacks, favored slaves, household servants, slave artisans, and urban slaves.” Those who lived in rural areas might have been included in family prayer circles, Bible-reading groups, and other forms of religious instruction; however, they were generally afforded fewer opportunities to attend church. During The Great Awakening (1730–1780), a period of revivalism, slave owners did allow their servants to become Christianized. This period brought to black people an opportunity to hear narratives of Bible stories, and an opportunity to participate in worship through singing, praying, and testifying, resulting in some slaves claiming to have been born again. Revivalism brought sizeable numbers of blacks to Christianity, and these converts felt a need to found their own churches.

The First African Baptist Church and Parsonage in Waycross, Georgia, is part of the oldest black Christian church in America.


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