Written & Published by
Lamont Jack Pearley
For as long as I can remember, and as far back as I have researched, the Church, the Black Church, has been the helm of the Black community and it’s heritage here in America. We can go back to 1773 where the First African American Baptist church was established in Savannah, Georgia, by former slave George Leile. We can talk about Providence R.I. which is on record of establishing a Black church as early as 1774.
According to Walter Henderson Brooks, the oldest Negro Baptist churches, north of Mason and Dixon’s Line, are the Independent or First African, of Boston, Mass., planted in 1805; the Abysinnian, of New York City, planted in 1808; and the First African, of Philadelphia, Pa., planted in 1809.
In this conversation, we must not forget the infamous Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia founded in 1886, and the Emmanuel AME Church of South Carolina established in 1816.
Churches of these magnitudes, of this historical stature to me, would seem like the foundation of what we now call the mega church. In all my studying and readings, I always and still believe the Black Church was the foundation. The foundation of Black Community, Family time, social and spiritual change and last but not least..music. Blues, Spirituals and all.
The Black Church was where the community gathered, initially, for spiritual and recreational pastime. The only place, at one time, Blacks could congregate together off the plantation, without the eyes of the overseer. The Black Church also became the secret meeting place for liberation. And that’s what makes me continue to wonder how the Black Church became disconnecting from the Black community.
Which leads me to the Mega Church. I questioned at one time, did the mega church play a large role in this disconnection? Is the mega Church the reason why so many small store front churches are desperately struggling to survive?
This is is a topic that will be an ongoing series. The Blues and The Black church are more than staples in the heritage and traditions of African Americans on this land. One prolific author and professor of systematic theology has a book that proves this fact. James H. Cone and his book titled, “The Spirituals and The Blues”. Now this isn’t his only piece of literature, but this specific book is one I reference and will be referencing in my upcoming projects where I make the case of The Black Church, The Blues, Work Songs and the Lost Tribes of Israel.
The importance of Cone’s work when we speak of the black church and it’s tradition in the black community can be summarized by – Black history is the stuff out of which the black spirituals were created….to understand it is to know the being of people who had to feel their way along the course of American Slavery”.
See, without one you can’t have the other. Blues and Spirituals are one and the same…..however, to stay on topic….there is a bigger Blues in the Black Church today…bigger than just the music that has flooded the American pop charts by everyone who loves, enjoys and appropriates the music…
There’s a bigger Blues in the Black Church today… bigger than the disagreements between Christians and FOI…
There’s a Bigger Blues in the Black Church…and some say it’s the prosperity ministries. And that’s not just in the Black Church!! We hear it all the time. We see it and most like to point out to say how it’s proof that the CHristian Church and Bible was made to keep us enslaved. But is that really the case? Could it be that some are wicked enough to purposefully twist the word of God….could it also be that some are loosing site of the mission for what ever reason?
We will be discussion this on an ongoing basis…we’re even setting up podcasts to have this discussion….
As for now, I’ll leave you with and excerpt of James H. Cone discussing the Black Church during “Tavis Smiley Presents’ “The State Of The Black Church”