Mighty like a River: The Black Church and Social Reform / Edition 1

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Throughout the history of the African American people there has been no stronger resource for overcoming adversity than the black church. From its role in leading a group of free Blacks to form a colony in Sierra Leone in the 1790s to helping ex-slaves after the Civil War, and from playing major roles in the Civil Rights Movement to offering community outreach programs in American cities today, black churches have been the focal point of social change in their communities. Based on extensive research over several years, Mighty Like a River is the first comprehensive account of how black churches have helped shape American society.
An expert in African American culture, Andrew Billingsley surveys nearly a thousand black churches across the country, including its oldest, the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia. These black churches, whose roots extend back to antebellum times, have periodically confronted social, economic, and political problems facing the African American community. Mighty Like a River addresses such questions as: How widespread and effective is the community activity of black churches? What are the patterns of activities being undertaken today? How do activist churches confront such problems as family instability, youth development, AIDS and other health issues, and care for the elderly?
With profiles of the remarkable black heroes and heroines who helped create the activist church, and a compelling agenda for expanding the black church's role in society at large, Mighty Like a River is an inspirational, visionary, and definitive account of the subject.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Billingsley has written a short book on a mighty theme.... It is amazing how much ground he covers.... His book transcends time and place to present a narrative that is both compelling and fascinating."—Library Journal

"As a leading scholar of the black family, Billingsley has succeeded in integrating his analysis of black churches with family concerns. He has important data on the response of black churches to the crises of HIV/Aids and of black young men. This book is highly recommended for courses on black churches, families and community issues."—Lawrence H. Mamiya, Paschall Davis Professor of African Studies and Religion at Vassar College and co-author of The Black Church in the African American Experience

Library Journal
Billingsley sociology/African American studies, Univ. of South Carolina has written a short book on a mighty theme: the black church as a major influencing factor in the black community for promoting the general good and a driving force for equality and righteousness. It is amazing how much ground he covers. Part historical document, part sociological study, part journalistic reporting with numerous case studies, his book transcends time and place to present a narrative that is both compelling and fascinating. Billingsley begins with the many antebellum black churches and their periodic battles against the overwhelmingly powerful advocates of slavery, then carries this story to the modern-day black church and its nearly constant battles to secure political and economic rights for the black community. He then effortlessly ties together the tasks of both churches, showing how they are actually the same. The book reaches another level at the end as it calls for continued and relentless black church activism to tackle the enduring problems of modern American society. Recommended for all libraries.--Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195161793
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 5.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Billingsley, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Sociology, African American Studies, and the Institute for Families in Society at the University of South Carolina, is the author of six books of sociology, including Children of the Storm, Black Families in White America, and Climbing Jacob's Ladder: The Enduring Legacy of African American Families.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I Evolution of the Black Church as Agent of Social Reform
1 The Storm Is Passing Over: The Black Church in Perspective 3
2 If Tombstones Could Talk: The Evolution of the Black Church in Savannah 13
3 General Sherman and the Black Church 22
4 The Crisis of Emancipation and Reconstruction in Savannah 35
5 Rev. Ralph Mark Gilbert and the Civil Rights Movement in Savannah 53
6 First African Baptist Church, Richmond: Seedbed of Social Reform 62
Pt. II The Contemporary Black Church Reaches out to the Community
7 New-Time Religion 87
8 The Black Church and the Male Youth Crisis 102
9 The Black Church Confronts the HIV/AIDS Crisis 110
10 A Tale of Two Cities: Black Churches in Denver and Atlanta 119
11 Often Seen, Seldom Called: The Legacy of Jerena Lee 132
12 Twelve Gates to the City 144
13 Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian 170
14 One More River to Cross: The Black Church Faces the Future 185
App. A Project Advisory Committee Members 195
App. B Studying Contemporary Black Churches 198
App. C Tables 207
Notes 227
References 245
Index 251
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