The oldest black Baptist church in Kentucky, and third oldest in the United States, was founded about 1790 by the slave Peter Durrett. Even a little history about African-Americans and the church tell a story that is as rich as it is long. The first black congregations and churches formed before 1800 was founded by free blacks, ( Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Petersburg, Virginia; and Savannah, Georgia.”
Though segregation declined, African-Americans worshiping together continued to develop during the late 19th century and continues to this day. African-American churches like no other church use to put money where their mouth was, taking on the social system head-on by serving as school sites in the early years after the Civil War, taking up social welfare functions, providing for the poor, homeless, incarcerated, and orphans. Traditionally black churches have been a rock for its people, fostering strong community organizations and provided spiritual and political leadership, especially during the civil rights movement. AFRICAN-AMERICAN‘S AND THE CHURCH
For many blacks the church is much more than a religious building, it is also somewhat of a source of social cohesion. In many respects the black church picks up where institutions that fail to invest in black neighborhoods, to improve physical and social capital left off. African-Americans have always looked to the black church for spirituality as well as for guidance in overcoming social disparity, which they see as a driving force of poverty and racism.
Some take on business ventures, other’s run businesses out of the church, even though Jesus shunned selling of any kind in his temple. Today many church leaders ignore “Jesus at the Temple” scripture. Back in the day though…you didn’t see black churches allowing selling inside the temple. However , all that’s changed…At the end of the day black churches saw opportunities to help themselves collectively by mobilizing the church to take on various social issues head on. The church was all they had outside of themselves….so they cherished it…made it as much as it could be considering the times….AFRICAN-AMERICAN’S AND THE CHURCH
45 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’[a]; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’[b]”
47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words. Luke 19: 45;47
Historically…back in the day, black churches did a lot with very little. They stood the test of time. Early on …Slaves learned about Christianity by attending services led by a white preacher or supervised by a white person. Slaveholders would hold prayer meetings at their plantations. Whites would often supervise worship and prayer, using bible stories that drove home the importance of staying in your place. In the early decades of the 19th century, they used stories such as the Curse of Ham to prove slavery was acceptable in God’s sight, to themselves, promoting a myth that loyal and hard-working slaves would be rewarded in the afterlife. During those times few blacks knew how to read. However, the few who did taught others to read. Frederick Douglas was one of those people. As a young man, while still enslaved in Maryland, he learned to read himself and went on to teach others. “Who knew?”
One church, one Christ…”is that how you see it?”
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