Religion

African-American Christians in Colonial America

What were some of the successful efforts of Baptists and Methodists to convert slaves to Christianity?

Between 1742 and 1770 spellbinding orator George Whitefield led seven successful missionary tours throughout North America, leading to the conversions of large numbers of blacks and whites. By the end of the eighteenth century, Methodist circuit riders, such as Francis Asbury, were also well received by African Americans. Churches attracting the most black members were Baptist and Methodist. These churches allowed their ministers to function without an education, thus opening doors for many aspiring ministers, many of whom lived in states where teaching African Americans to read and write was legally forbidden. Baptists and Methodists were also less hostile to the passion of black preachers and congregations than the more staid denominations, such as Episcopalians. African Americans were also attracted to the anti-slavery stance of notable Methodist and Baptist leaders, such as John Wesley, Francis Asbury, and John Leland, and the greater degree of equality nurtured within many of their congregations.



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