Black Church Beginnings provides an intimate look at the struggles of African Americans to establish spiritual communities in the harsh world of slavery in the American colonies. Written by one of today's foremost experts on African American religion, this book traces the growth of the black church from its start in the mid-1700s to the end of the nineteenth century.
As Henry Mitchell shows, the first African American churches didn't just organize; they labored hard, long, and sacrificially to form a meaningful, independent faith. Mitchell insightfully takes readers inside this process of development. He candidly examines the challenge of finding adequately trained pastors for new local congregations, confrontations resulting from internal class structure in big city churches, and obstacles posed by emerging denominationalism.
Original in its subject matter and singular in its analysis, Mitchell's Black Church Beginnings makes a major contribution to the study of American church history.
Henry H. Mitchell (1919–2022) was a professor of history, black church studies, and homiletics, most recently at the Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, Georgia. He was also the founding director of the Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies and the author or coauthor of several books, including Black Preaching: The Recovery of a Powerful Art and Soul Theology: The Heart of American Black Culture.
Dennis C. Dickerson "A pivotal introduction to black church history."
Lawrence H. Mamiya "An excellent contribution to the scholarship on the origins and development of black churches in the United States. Taking a strong positive stance on the debate over African cultural survivals in African American Christianity, Henry Mitchell has remarkable insights regarding black church origins. . . Highly recommended."
Quinton Dixie "Black Church Beginnings gathers the prophetic fragments of African American church history into a tight synthesis, challenging narrow nationalist notions that Christianity is a white religion. Henry Mitchell's central argument — that black expressions of faith in the salvific work of Christ cannot be separated from the African religious heritage of those enslaved in the New World — is an important refrain in black religious historiography."
Choice "An original, intimate, concise, and wholly accessible introduction to the beginnings of African American Christianity. . . Recommended."
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