If you want to see what faith looks like when it is alive and well, step into your choice of black church services across the country. As many churches as there now are with mostly African American members, it is hard to believe that at one time, organized religion in a church did not happen so easily for members of the black community. Throughout history, the black church has grown and evolved to become what it is today, but it does have an interesting history to boast. Take a look at some of the most noteworthy historical facts about black churches in the United States.
The initial efforts to organize religion among slaves were not appreciated by slave owners.
For slaves who gathered in an attempt to have prayer and worship before black churches were established, times could be really difficult. White slave owners often viewed organized religion among the slaves as a threat, so it was not uncommon for slaves caught praying or in the act of worship to be punished by their owners. It was often suspected that the organization of slaves to worship was a way to hide efforts to organize an escape. However, for the slaves, worship and prayer were quite cathartic in a time when things were quite bleak.
The first black church was founded in Savannah, Georgia.
It is a common misconception that black churches always existed, but that is not actually the case. Before slaves started to obtain their freedom, religion was often practiced privately in households and in small groups. The first African American licensed to preach was actually a slave. George Leile started the first church, which was organized in Savannah, Georgia in 1788 after his release from slavery by his master a few years prior, just before the Revolutionary War.
The history of the black church and basic black history are closely related.
By the 1800s more black churches were built as African Americans were finally able to step out of secluded locations and worship openly without fear of punishment from slave owners. It is recognized throughout history that the black church had a huge role to play in the establishment of the black communities that are known today. Churches were not just a place to congregate, pray, and worship -- these establishments became centers where communities could come together, plan for their futures, and enjoy their families as a group.
For more information, contact religious centers like the Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church.