Prophetic Theology of the Black Church

Topics: African American, Slavery, African Methodist Episcopal Church Pages: 8 (3150 words) Published: December 8, 2014
historians, ethicists, professors of the hebrew bible, hermeneutics, and historians of religions, those scholars will join in with sociologists, political analysts, local church pastors, and denominational officials to examine the african-american religious experience and its historical, theological, and political context. the workshops, the panel discussions and the symposium will go into much more intricate detail about this unknown phenomenon of the black church than i have time to go into in a few moments we have to share together. i would invite you to spend the next two days getting to know just a little bit about our religious tradition that is as old as, and in some instances older than this country.

this is a country which houses this religious tradition that we all love and a country that some of us have served. it is a tradition that is in some ways like ralph ellison's "the invisible man." it has been here in our midst and on our shores since the 1600's but it was, has been, and in far too many instances, still is invisible to the dominant culture. in terms of its rich history, it's incredible legacy, and its multiple meanings. the black religious experience is a tradition that at one point in american history was called the invisible institution. as it was forced underground by the black codes, the black codes prohibited the gathering of more than two black people without a white person being present to monitor the conversation, the content, and the mood of any discourse between persons of african descent in this country. africans did not stop worshiping because of the black codes, africans did not stop gathering for inspiration and information and for encouragement and for hope in the midst of discouraging and seemingly hopeless circumstances, they just gathered out of the eye sight and earshot of those who defined them as less than human. they became invisible in and to the eyes of the dominant culture. they gathered to worship in brush arbours, sometimes called hush arbours is were the slaveholders, slave patrols, and uncle tom's couldnt hear nobody pray. from the 1700's in north america with the founding of the first legally recognized independent black congregations through the end of the civil war and the passing of the 13th and 14th amendment to the constitution of the united states of america, the black religious experience was informed by, enriched by, expanded by, challenged by, shaped by, and influenced by the influx of africans from the other two americas and the africans brought into this country from the caribbean. plus the africans who were called fresh blacks by slave traders, those africans who had not been through the seasoning process of the middle passage in the caribbean colonies. those africans on the seacoast islands off of georgia and south carolina, the gola or gullah, or gichi, people brought into the black experience with a flavor that other seasoned africans could not bring. it was those various streams of the black religious experience which will be addressed over the next two days. streams which requirefour courses at the university and graduate school level and cannot be fully addressed in the two- day symposium and streams which tragecally remain invisible in a dominant culture which knows nothing about those who langston hughes calls "the darker brother” – and sister. it is all of those streams that make up the tapestry of the black religious experience and i opened up this symposium with the hope that this recent attack on the black church is not in attack on me. it is an attack on the black church. the most recent attack on the black church, it is our hope that this just might mean that the reality of the african american church will no longer be invisible. maybe now, as an honest dialogue about race in this country begins, a dialogue called for by senator obama and a dialogue to began in the united church of christ among 5700 congregations in a few weeks, maybe now as...
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