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~  The Black Church  ~

Baptism and the Black Church (1920's clip)

         During the days of slavery,  their were bush arbors on plantations for slaves to worship.  Many were made basically of poles supporting a roof of pine branches.  Black folk were also members of the same churches as their owners before the civil war. They were also carried on the church rolls and occupied special pews, usually in the galleries of the churches.   Many of these churches had twice as many black members as their were white members.  After the war, Black folk withdrew from the white churches and formed congregations of their own.

       The bush arbors and worshipping in the churches of their owners, were not just for worship, they literally served as a meeting place for families who were separated by plantations but were able to worship together on Sundays.    In many cases this became the only time some family members could visit with each other besides during the harvest celebrations that occurred yearly during the first week in October.    This celebration was/ is known as   the "Camp Meeting", which dates back to 1838 in Houston County.  Slaves  would gather their home-baked goods and other tasty dishes made from vegetables harvested, and then come together to celebrate and worship.  Many churches continue this tradition even to this day.


         Many of the churches established after the emancipation were built on land granted to the ex-slaves by their former owners.   Many of these land deeds had stipulations i.e.,  the church trustees would pay a $1.00 per year for one hundred years, afterwards the land reverts back to the slaveowner's heirs; another is that if the land should be used for anything other than a church, the land would revert back to the heirs of the  (ex) slaveowner's family.

                 The majority of the black churches established during slavery and shortly thereafter in 1865, were established on grounds that our ancestors labored and roamed. So when visiting these churches, just know that you are walking on the grounds that your enslaved ancestors once walked and lived.  


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