History of black churches

Published 8:00 am Thursday, February 25, 2016

Beginning with the history of earlier churches in the United States, black churches have had to overcome enormous economical, social and spiritual diversities in order to have the freedom to experience faith of worship in a new world far from their homeland.

Black churches struggled in the midst of constant racism and oppression.

Enslaved blacks were indoctrinated by white religion to transform and conform to their religious beliefs.

Black church religious meetings symbolized the ultimate threat to white existence. Often when slaves had prayer meetings, they were whipped by whites; they thought black prayer meetings were held to implement secret codes used to harm them.

Blacks were to be obedient and biblically to obey their masters; slaves had no voice in the church affairs and were relegated to the rear of the church or galleries as spectators rather than full members of a congregation.

The purpose of the religious revelation known as the Awakening in Southern states was to convert slaves to Methodist, Baptist, or other faiths. After the American Revolution and the gradual abolishment of slavery, clergy within their own denomination promoted the belief that all Christians were equal in the eyes of God.

These acts and the emancipation of blacks inspired 38 blacks in realizing that the present church system was a caste system; therefore, they file a petition with the white church organizations they belonged to in order to promote and place themselves in an environment to ensure their ideology and philosophy of religion were in line with their faith, creating the first all-black church (Shiloh Baptist); once established, all black churches spread rapidly throughout the South.

Other new churches emerged expanding the development of sectors within churches; such as ministry, songwriters, caretakers, choirs, choir leaders, deacons and other auxiliaries that embodied the mechanism for our churches of today.

Black churches have been an aspiration for grassroots movement and they have pushed for equality of racial changes in the United States and worldwide, setting the standard that God created all men equally.

Locally, today’s black churches continue to promote rights for free worship, economic empowerment, educational opportunities, but most importantly, freedom of religion, including the following black churches throughout Charlotte County: Tabernacle, Mount Ellis, First Baptist, Saint Douglas, Mossingford, Salem, Antioch, Galilee, Saint Louis, Mount Mitchell, Finneywood, Shiloh Baptist, Organ Hill, Morrison Grove, Beautiful Plain, Lone Oak, Gethsemane, Saint Andrews, White Oak, Midway, Rocky Branch, Piney Grove and Saint Michaels.

William H. McCargo is a retired teacher, owner of Duck Puddle Childcare and president of the Charlotte County NAACP. He can be reached at cropcorw@aol.com.