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Sandy Dwayne Martin

clergyman, community activist, denomination organizer, and black nationalist was born Albert Buford Cleage Jr., one of seven children of Pearl (whose maiden name is now unknown) and Albert Cleage Sr., in Indianapolis, Indiana. Shortly after Agyeman's birth, Cleage, Sr., a medical doctor, relocated with his family to Detroit, Michigan, where the father helped to establish the city's first African American hospital. After an undergraduate education that included a stay at Fisk University in Tennessee, Agyeman received his BA in Sociology from Wayne State University in 1937, serving as a caseworker for the Department of Public Welfare from 1931 to 1938. Subsequently Agyeman felt the call to ministry and obtained a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Oberlin College Graduate School of Theology in 1943. Also in 1943Agyeman married Doris Graham, to which union was born two children, Kris and the ...

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Steven J. Niven

sharecropper and minister, was born in the Mississippi Delta, the tenth of twelve children of Miles Carter, a sharecropper descended from Georgia slaves owned by the forebears of President Jimmy Carter. The name of Miles Carter's wife is not recorded The Carters lived a peripatetic existence moving from one plantation to another but never escaping the cycle of poverty that characterized much of black life in the Jim Crow South Despite the hopelessness of that situation Miles Carter was an ambitious man who occasionally advanced to the position of renter Unlike sharecroppers who usually possessed antiquated farming tools and equipment and received only half of the value of their crop renters often owned their own mules and implements and could expect to earn a three quarter share of their crop which in the Delta was inevitably cotton Miles Carter s success as a renter required however that his ...

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David Michel

pastor and religious leader, was born somewhere in the South; however, little is known about his early and adult life. He never went to school but managed to educate himself and learned both Hebrew and Yiddish. He also worked as a seaman, during which time he traveled all over the world. While overseas he claimed to have been appointed a prophet by God. He moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and founded the Church of God (Black Jews) in 1915. He probably married and fathered at least one child, Benjamin Cherry.

Cherry maintained that blacks, whom he also called Jews or Hebrews, descended from the Jews of the Bible, with Jacob as the father of all black people. Cherry was not the first African American to claim a Jewish ancestry for blacks. In 1896William S. Crowdy had founded the Church of God and Saints of Christ viewing its ...

Article

Born into slavery to unknown parents and raised on John Smithson's plantation in Hancock, Mississippi, Biddy Bridget Mason was given by her owners as a wedding gift in 1836 to Robert Marion Smith and Rebecca Crosby Smith. After converting to Mormonism in 1847, Smith's family and their slaves made the 2,000-mile trek to Utah. Traveling with her three daughters, Ella, Ann, and Harriet, who were probably fathered by her owner, Mason acted as midwife, nurse, and caretaker for the caravan. After four years in Salt Lake City, Smith took the group to a new Mormon settlement in San Bernardino, California. Smith had apparently forgotten that California was declared a free state in 1850, and under this law Mason and her family were manumitted on January 1, 1856.

Now free, Mason moved to Los Angeles, where she worked as a nurse. By 1866 she ...

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Richard Newman

Charles Harrison Mason was born to Jerry and Eliza Mason, former slaves who were poor tenant farmers in Shelby County, Tennessee. In 1879 the family moved to a plantation in Plummersville, Arkansas. Mason was converted to evangelical Christianity as a child, after a seemingly miraculous recovery from yellow fever, which killed his father. He was baptized by his brother, a Baptist preacher. After reading Amanda Smith, a black evangelist, Mason believed himself sanctified, or free from sin, which he saw as a necessary act of divine grace following conversion.

Along with Charles P. Jones, Mason began to preach the doctrines associated with the controversial Holiness movement. Both were expelled from the Baptist Church for heresy. Mason attended Arkansas Bible College for three months in 1882 but was educated more by the spirituality of former slaves. In 1895 Mason and Jones founded the Church of Christ in ...

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Ida E. Jones

church founder and religious leader, was born in Bartlett, Tennessee, to the former slaves Jerry and Eliza Mason. His parents worked for a plantation owner named Prior Lee, a well-connected planter whose spiritual foundation was in the Baptist Church. After the Civil War the Masons worked as tenant farmers and remained committed Baptists. Throughout Mason's childhood his mother encouraged him to join her in prayer, an experience that left a lasting mark on his understanding of Christian expression. In 1878 a yellow fever epidemic forced the Mason family to leave Tennessee for Plumersville, Arkansas, and the plantation farm of John Watson, where they continued to work as tenant farmers. Unfortunately, in 1879 young Charles's father succumbed to yellow fever, leaving the family to struggle financially. In the early summer of 1880 Charles also fell ill Fearing for his life his mother prayed that he would be ...

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Mayda Grano de Oro

Liborio Mateo established a religious community in San Juan de la Maguna, in the southern Dominican Republic, shortly after a storm devastated the area in 1908. He and many of his followers were Afro-Dominicans. While not directly confronting authorities with protest or destruction of property, they established a community that functioned autonomously, both politically and economically. Beginning in 1910, when Mateo was ordered arrested (but managed to escape), authorities—urged by the Roman Catholic Church—stepped up efforts to crack down on the movement. Official hostility was motivated in large part by distrust of the group's political and cultural separateness and rumors of alleged immoral activities connected to its religious practices. It was only when confronted with this government repression that the group became armed in self-defense. With the fall of President Ramón Cáceres (1906–1911 the community s relations with the government improved In fact the government ...

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SaFiya D. Hoskins

singer, actress, and ordained minister, was born Delloreese Patricia Early in Detroit, Michigan, the only child born to the union of Nellie Mitchelle and Richard Thaddeus Early. Her mother, who was of Cherokee descent, worked as cook, and her father was a steelworker. Reese grew up in the church and began singing gospel at age six. As a young teenager, she served as a choir director and would often perform on radio. Subsequently, Reese was discovered by the popular gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. At age thirteen, she began touring with Jackson; she graduated from Cass Technical High School two years later and continued touring with Jackson. While a psychology student at Wayne State University in Detroit, at age eighteen, Reese formed her own gospel group called the Meditation Singers, which would become the first group to popularize gospel in Las Vegas.

Reese discontinued her education at ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

religious leader, was born Frederick Joseph Eikerenkoetter II in Ridgeland, South Carolina, to Frederick Joseph Eikerenkoetter Sr., a Baptist minister and architect, and Rema Estelle Matthews, a teacher. As a boy, he was exposed to the fundamentalist theology of the Bible Way Church in Ridgeland, where his father was the pastor, and he became an assistant minister at the age of fourteen. After graduating from high school in 1952, Eikerenkoetter won a scholarship to the American Bible College in New York and earned a bachelor of theology degree in 1956. He then became a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force and started what might have become a traditional and uneventful ministerial career. However, after only two years, Eikerenkoetter left the security of the chaplaincy to embark on a new vocation as an evangelist.

Back in South Carolina he veered from his Baptist roots and began ...

Article

David Michel

denominational founder and religious leader, was born in Hazelhurst, Georgia, to Robert and Annie Bell. The family later moved to Pensacola, Florida. In Pensacola Bell was “saved” at a street revival and in 1908 she joined the Church of God, a-local Pentecostal group. Pentecostalism was a new religious movement claiming the restoration of apostolic gifts such as speaking in tongues and faith healing. Bell received a limited education and worked as a cook on the tugboat Silver Queen that toured around Miami. In 1910 she married Oliver Robinson, who also worked on the Silver Queen. The Robinsons' marriage did not produce any children and so they adopted a girl, also called Ida. Looking for better opportunities, the Robinsons followed the black migration north to Philadelphia in 1917.

Once settled Ida Robinson started evangelizing through preaching read on sermons She would ask a more literate person to ...

Article

The self-taught son of former slaves, William Joseph Seymour was the first leader of Pentecostalism, a religious movement that has swept the United States, Africa, Latin America, and the rest of the world, acquiring millions of adherents and often described as the religious phenomenon of the twentieth century.

Seymour's religious journey to the Azusa Street Pentecostal Mission in Los Angeles, California began with his experiences growing up as a Baptist and a young adulthood spent in Methodist churches. A follower of the Holiness Movement, a perfectionist group growing out of Methodism, Seymour believed that the achievement of grace was a two-step process. After conversion, God “sanctified” the believer with a “sign.” Seymour saw his sign after a bout of smallpox in Cincinnati, Ohio, the result of which was the loss of the use of his left eye.

Then an evangelist, Seymour went to Houston, Texas in 1903 and ...

Article

Joel Cabrita

independent churchman and founder of the Zulu church Ibandla lamaNazaretha (Church of the Nazaretha, was born in Ntambamhlophe, in the district of Chief Langalibalele of the amaHlubi, in the Drakensberg region of Natal, South Africa, around 1870. Shembe’s parents had close ties to the Hlubi royal family. His father, Mayekisa, was a headman of Langalibalele, and his mother, Sitheya Hadebe, was daughter of Mlindi, who was a close relative of Langalibalele. Shembe was named Mdliwamfa, although he later changed his name to Isaiah at his Christian baptism.

Displaced by the deposal of Chief Langabilalele in 1873 1874 the family left the Ntambamhlophe area when Shembe was a child and moved to the nearby Free State province Shembe s father Mayekisa settled the family as labor tenants upon the farm of Afrikaaner Coenraad Grabe Unlike many of his Zulu Christian contemporaries Shembe did not attend school spending his childhood working upon ...

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Teresa Cruz e Silva

Mozambican bishop, was born in Mocumbi (Morrumbene), in the Inhambane region in southern Mozambique. Son of Munene Sikobele, baptized in 1891, Muti started his activities as preacher and collaborator of mission’s activities while still very young. From 1895 to 1899, he attended Adams College in Natal, South Africa.

In 1884 the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was settled in the Inhambane region In the following years their work was continued under the supervision of the Methodists At this time southern Mozambique was already a source of migrant labor to South Africa allowing interactions between migrant workers and the Mozambican sociopolitical milieu During the 1890s and into the following decade Mozambique saw a sharp increase in the establishment of African independent churches Their philosophy was guided by the idea of self government and African leadership within a church for all Africans Thus Mozambican migrants were exposed ...

Article

Amy Sparks Kolker

journalist and educator, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the only child of Margaret Smith, who raised her on her own. It is uncertain whether Smith was born into slavery. Though her mother and she were poor and struggled to make ends meet, Smith managed to get an education, and by the age of sixteen she had begun to support her mother and herself by working as a secretary to William James Simmons, the president of the State University of Louisville. Later, after she graduated from the Normal Department at the State University in 1887, she worked as a faculty member.

Through her connection to Simmons, Smith also began working as a journalist. Simmons was an editor of the American Baptist, a newspaper owned by black Baptists, and in 1884 Smith began writing The Children s Column for the publication When Simmons became the ...

Article

Ellis Cashmore

African‐AmericanChristian minister and author known as Birmingham's ‘Coloured Preacher’. He was educated, with the help of the Beecher Stowe family, and, motivated by Christian faith, committed himself to the uplift of the black race. Ordained in Hertford, Connecticut, in 1878, he ministered among the black community, moving to Ontario, Canada, in 1882, where he was also editor of the Christian Defender. He arrived in Britain in 1883, and spent time in Liverpool, London, and Birmingham, and published his narrative From Bondage to Liberty (1889). The lynching of African‐Americans in the United States was of deep concern to Birmingham's Christians in the early 1890s, and in 1895 Stanford was deputed by anti lynching campaigners to return to the United States and report on the situation Having arrived in Boston he founded the first African American Congregational church St Mark Roxbury His book on ...

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Marijke Steegstra

prophetess and cofounder and leader of the Twelve Apostles Church of Ghana, was born in the small coastal fishing town of Krisan in the Western Region of the Gold Coast (now known as Ghana) in the late 1870s or early 1880s. She was a Nzima woman, born as Maame Tani. Her name literally means “one born of Tano,” signifying that her birth was attributed to the aid of the river deity Nana Tano. By the time she had reached middle age, she had established a reputation as a chief priestess for the deity Tano and was noted for her ability of spirit possession and healing in her community.

The name of Maame Harris Grace Tani is usually mentioned together with that of Papa Kwesi John Nackabah Tani and Nackabah were the two founders of the Twelve Apostles Church of Ghana Their rise to positions of prominence and leadership dates from ...

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Meharry H. Lewis

preacher, bishop, church founder, and administrator, was born Mary Lena Street in Vanleer, Dickson County, Tennessee. Mary Lena was the first of four girls born to Belfield Street and Nancy Hall. Both of her parents were born into slavery, Belfield around 1830 and Nancy around 1839. Belfield had two sons (Jeff and Felix) and Nancy had one son (Filmore) from previous marriages. After Emancipation, Belfield continued farming and marketing his produce and by-products in Vanleer, Cumberland Furnace, and Dickson, Tennessee. Belfield acquired considerable property in Dickson County. His property, as well as his agricultural and entrepreneurial skills, were passed on to his children. Nancy was an “ex-house girl” for the wealthy William Bell family who operated the prestigious Cloverdale Academy at Cloverdale Tennessee Nancy readily availed herself of the educational experiences available in the Bell home and thus gained ...