The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #80

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with episode #80 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Luke 4:8 which reads: “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Our History of Black Americans and the Black Church quote for today is from Lee June, a professor at Michigan State University and the author of the book, “Yet With A Steady Beat: The Black Church through a Psychological and Biblical Lens.” He writes, “The church community, under such circumstances, becomes a necessary link to a historical past but a modern-day pacifier or in some cases a mere “entertainment center.” This phenomenon is something that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned against in the sermon “Guidelines for a Constructive Church” (Carson and Holloron, 1998). Though the church is still the most powerful institution in our community as the statistics and other data suggest, it is losing some of its grip and, in many instances, is more irrelevant to the “deeper” lives of the people than was the case in the past. For many, it has become the “sear” of an authentic religious conscious. For others, it is a way to appease a religious conscience.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 13: Blacks in Colonial New England, Part 1” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

Although New England’s primary interest in slavery was in the trade of blacks, some were early introduced into Massachusetts and Connecticut. In 1638 a Salem ship unloaded several Africans in Boston, and in the following year there were blacks in Hartford. Before a decade had passed, blacks were used in the construction of houses and forts in Connecticut. By the middle of the century the refugees who founded Rhode Island were using blacks to help establish that colony. While the status of these early New England blacks was rather uncertain, it gradually became clear in all New England colonies that slavery was a legitimate institution.

Whether slaves landing in New England were to be settled there or shipped to other colonies, they became important to the commercial life of the New England colonies. New England slave traders competed in the trade, although they were at a serious disadvantage compared to the powerful European trading companies. After England secured a monopoly of the slave trade to the New World in 1713, it welcomed New England merchants since there was more than enough for its own traders. In the first half of the eighteenth century New England traders thrived. Boston, Salem, Providence, and New London bustled with activity as outgoing ships were loaded with rum, fish, and dairy products, and as Africans, molasses, and sugar were unloaded from incoming ships. Up until the War for Independence the slave trade was vital to the economic life of New England.

The black population in New England grew slowly. In 1700, when the total population of the entire region was approximately 90,000, there were only 1,000 blacks. In the eighteenth century growth was more rapid. Massachusetts led with 2,000 blacks in 1715 and 5,249 by 1776. Connecticut was second with 1,500 blacks in 1715 and 3,587 by 1756. The largest percentage of blacks was to be found in Rhode Island, where in 1774 there were 3,761 blacks to 54,435 whites. The number in New Hampshire remained negligible all during the colonial period.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.


Our second topic for today is “The Negro Church and Assimilation, Part 1: The Walls Came Tumbling Down, Part 1” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

In the last chapter we have studied the transformations which have occurred in the Negro church and in the religion of Negroes as the result of urbanization. We have seen how the migrations of Negroes to cities have tended to uproot the traditional organization of the Negro community and changed the outlook of Negroes. As the result of the social disorganization of Negro life there has been a reorganization of life on a different basis in order to meet the demands of the city. Life in the cities of the North has brought a larger measure of freedom from racial prejudice and discriminations which had characterized race relations in the South. This new freedom has enabled Negroes to enter more into the mainstream of American life. Since this new freedom has been due partly to broad changes in the economic and social organization of American life, the Negro in the South benefited from these changes. The success which Negroes have achieved in breaking down racial barriers has been due partly to their own efforts. They have carried on a constant struggle in the courts and they have influenced to some extent public opinion. As the mid-century drew to a close a distinguished white woman, who had been associated with their struggle, could look back at the success which Negroes had made in breaking through racial barriers and say in the words of the well-known Negro spiritual, ‘the walls came tumbling down’.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.


Our third and final topic for today is from “The Black Church in the U.S.: Its Origin, Growth, Contributions, and Outlook” by Dr. William A. Banks.

Today we are looking at part 22 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

A Social Gospeler’s Lack of Spiritual Discernment
On September 28, 1968, on the Woodmont estate, Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, Father Divine’s mausoleum shrine, costing between $250,000 and $300,000, was dedicated. The Reverend Leon H. Sullivan said,

“Peace Father, Peace Mother, Peace everyone: I want all of you to know how moved I have been and how moved I am now. It is truly wonderful. And to see how the Spirit of Father yet abounds in our midst and in the world!…when first I came to Philadelphia…one…of the first wonderful and glorious experiences I had…was…the great Privilege and Honor of being in the presence of Father…whenever I was faced with problems of perplexity, and wanted to try to do something to help my community, I would seek an appointment and council with Father.

I think there is nothing that I have been involved with trying to do that Father did not know about–and I would come to Father and…I would talk about something I’d want to do and I would ask him about it, and then I would say, “Well, now will you help me?” and he would say, “Yes, I will help you.”

And there was never a meeting, a public meeting that I did not always somehow reach Father to ask him to pray for its success. I will never forget him. He will always be with me like he is with you. In my labors and in my work as I strive to bring Peace, alleviate poverty and help to eradicate prejudice, I should want Father to know, and you, Mother, to know, that if any success comes to my work, I want you to know, and I mean this profoundly–that if any success comes to my work, that Father is in that success too! Peace! Peace Everyone!”

Such blasphemy indicates the delusion of our age. Walter Martin closes the case against Father Divine:

Father Divine, or George Baker, has irrevocably committed the sin of blasphemy against the only true God. Moreover, he has claimed to be what his own soul knows he is not, and it is as certain as the rising of the sun that he must some day answer for the terrible delusions he has foisted on the minds of over a million persons.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

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