The Black Megachurch
Theology, Gender, and the Politics of Public Engagement
Publication Year: 2011
An explosion of flourishing black megachurches has changed the landscape of American religious life. Boasting memberships into the tens of thousands and meeting within both adorned walls and refurbished warehouse buildings, these contemporary fruits of the Civil Rights Movement hold many of the resources necessary to address America's contemporary social disparities. After studying nearly 150 black megachurches, Tamelyn N. Tucker-Worgs asks, How are these church communities engaging the public sphere? And, why are their approaches so varied?
The Black Megachurch sets aside the broad assumptions usually applied to the study of black churches and analyzes the three factors most necessary for social engagement—theological orientation, organization of community development initiatives, and gender-based spheres of labor and leadership. In doing so, Tucker-Worgs underscores the myriad ways in which black megachurches have responded to the changing social climate and concludes that while some have lived up to their potential, others have a long way to go.
Published by: Baylor University Press
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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LIST OF TABLES
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LIST OF FIGURES
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When I arrived in Prince George’s County, Maryland, ready to start my graduate career, I began the process of looking for a church home away from home. This entailed visiting a different church each week, or “church hopping” as some call it. A couple of my fellow graduate students and I would go from church to ...
1--INTRODUCTION: Answering the Knock at Midnight
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In his 1963 sermon “A Knock at Midnight,” Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of his most concise yet complex statements about the role of the church in public life. The sermon provided both a critique of the role churches were playing and a normative statement about the role they should play. Referring to Jesus’ parable, King pondered how the church should respond when a man knocks on the door of the church asking for bread at midnight. The “man” of course refers to people in need. The midnight hour—the deepest, darkest hour ...
2--“GET ON BOARD LITTLE CHILDREN,THERE’S ROOM FOR MANY MORE”: The Black Megachurch Phenomenon
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In 2000 Pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant, at twenty-nine years old, convened a group of forty-three people for Bible study in his living room. By 2007 that group of forty-three had grown to over six thousand. Bryant was the founding pastor of the Empowerment Temple African Methodist Episcopal (AME) ...
3--THEOLOGICAL ORIENTATION AS MOTIVE TO BLACK MEGACHURCH PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
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Consider the above mission statement from First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church. It particularly addresses the theological concern about the church’s role in the world. The church’s very existence is to “embody Christ.” What is interesting about this is that the church’s public engagement ...
4--“PROGRESS NOT PROTEST”; Black Megachurches and Community Development
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The repertoire of black church public engagement activities comprises three broad categories: protest politics, electoral politics, and community development. The tradition of black churches’ participation in protest politics was best exemplified during the Civil Rights Movement as activist black churches served as meeting places, trained leaders, and mobilized black communities to protest ...
5--DUAL GENDERED SPHERES AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT IN BLACK MEGACHURCHES: Women Carving Out Space to Make a Difference
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Women occupy a most peculiar position in the black church. Although they consistently make up the majority of members of black churches, for the most part they lack access to formal positions in ministerial and lay leadership. In the broader black church (and in black megachurches), women hit ...
6--CONCLUSION: Black Megachurches and Black Politics in the Twenty-First Century
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The black megachurch is arguably the most exciting black social organization to arise in the latter half of the twentieth century. Like the storefront church phenomenon that developed during the Great Migration, the black megachurch phenomenon has grown due to what Andrew Wiese calls the “next ...
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Page Count: 275
Illustrations: 6 b/w images
Publication Year: 2011