Cover image for The Black church in the African-American experience
The Black church in the African-American experience
Lincoln, C. Eric (Charles Eric), 1924-2000.
Publication Information:
Durham : Duke University Press, [1990]

Physical Description:
xvi, 519 pages ; 23 cm
Reading Level:
1590 Lexile.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BR563.N4 L55 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BR563.N4 L55 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

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Black churches in America have long been recognized as the most independent, stable, and dominant institutions in black communities. In The Black Church in the African American Experience, based on a ten-year study, is the largest nongovernmental study of urban and rural churches ever undertaken and the first major field study on the subject since the 1930s.Drawing on interviews with more than 1,800 black clergy in both urban and rural settings, combined with a comprehensive historical overview of seven mainline black denominations, C. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence H. Mamiya present an analysis of the Black Church as it relates to the history of African Americans and to contemporary black culture. In examining both the internal structure of the Church and the reactions of the Church to external, societal changes, the authors provide important insights into the ChurchOCOs relationship to politics, economics, women, youth, and music.Among other topics, Lincoln and Mamiya discuss the attitude of the clergy toward women pastors, the reaction of the Church to the civil rights movement, the attempts of the Church to involve young people, the impact of the black consciousness movement and Black Liberation Theology and clergy, and trends that will define the Black Church well into the next century.This study is complete with a comprehensive bibliography of literature on the black experience in religion. Funding for the ten-year survey was made possible by the Lilly Endowment and the Ford Foundation."

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Lincoln and Mamiya have compiled the results of a massive 10-year study, using surveys, interviews, and other research techniques, on the state of the black church (urban and rural) in the U.S. The authors echo Durkheim in their assertion that religion among black Americans particularly is a social (i.e., communal) experience, intimately linked with their Christian symbolic interpretation of the concept of freedom, which is likewise communal rather than individual. They propose a dialectical model of the black church, examined with a grounding in the history of the seven principal black denominations and then by topic. The respective situations of rural versus urban churches are examined in detail, both their structure and dynamics as well as the varying role of the clergy in them. The authors discuss who has--and has not--been affected by liberation theology, as distinct from politics and the civil rights movement. They touch on the economics of black churches, and chapters address the issues of women clergy, the relationship of the black churches to modern youth (the first "unchurched" generation of young blacks and the multiple consequences stemming from that lack of affiliation), the evolving role of music as a unifying or isolating force, and the challenges facing the black church. Although the book is necessarily heavy on sociological data, the general reader as well as the scholar will find a wealth of history, information, and insight on a pivotal American phenomenon. ~--Susan ~Nelson

Library Journal Review

This is a comprehensive resource book developed from a ten-year field study that investigated the black church as it relates to the history of African Americans and to contemporary black culture. The information listed is a powerful and extremely useful tool in giving researchers an in-depth look into the church's relationships to politics, economics, women (attitudes of clergy as pastors), youth, music, civil rights, and trends for the next century. The study contains an extensive bibliography. Highly readable, well written, and researched, this book is a necessary purchase for scholars and specialists in the field. Unfortunately, the cost may limit its audience to them alone.-- Gayle Leach, Wayne State Univ., Detroit (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This magisterial study, based on extensive statistical research and interviews, provides the most comprehensive treatment of the black church in the contemporary US. After descriptive, uncritical historical overviews of the seven denominations that claim 80 of African American Christians, the book focuses on several topics, including the urban church, the rural church, the impact of the black consciousness and civil rights movements on black churches, women's issues, economics, music, and the challenge the black churches face in retaining youth. The last is the most provocative and sets the stage for a compelling conclusion that has proposals for strengthening black churches in the 21st century. The authors argue that much of the black religious life has revolved around the twin foci of survival and liberation and that the churches played a critical role in nurturing both the black consciousness and civil rights movements of mid-century. There is an abundance of statistical tables, and occasionally technical jargon intrudes. Otherwise, this is an eminently readable narrative. A must for all libraries and essential for those interested in religion in American life and in the African American experience. C. H. Lippy Clemson University

Table of Contents

1 The Religious Dimension: Toward a Sociology of Black Churches
2 The Black Baptists: The First Black Churches in America
3 The Black Methodists: The Institutionalization of Black Religious Independence
4 The Black Pentecostals: The Spiritual Legacy with a Black Beginning
5 In the Receding Shadow of the Plantation: A Profile of Rural Clergy and Churches in the Black Belt
6 In the Streets of the Black Metropolis: A Profile of Black Urban Clergy and Churches
7 The New Black Revolution: The Black Consciousness Movement and the Black Church
8 "Now Is the Time!" The Black Church, Politics, and Civil Rights Militancy
9 The American Dream and the American Dilemma: The Black Church and Economics
10 the Pulpit and the Pew: The Black Church and Women
11 "In My Mother's House": The Black Church and Young People
12 The Performed Word: Music and the Black Church
13 The Black Church and the Twenty-First Century: Challenges to the Black Church