Uplifting the People

Uplifting the People : Three Centuries of Black Baptists in Alabama

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A distinctive Afro-Baptist faith emerged as African religious emphasis on spirit possession, soul-travel, and rebirth combined with evangelical faith. "Uplifting the People" is a history of the Alabama Missionary Baptist State Convention - its origins, churches, associations, conventions, and leaders. Fallin explains that a distinctive Afro-Baptist faith emerged as slaves in Alabama combined the African religious emphasis on spirit possession, soul-travel, and rebirth with the evangelical faith of Baptists. The denomination emphasizes a conversion experience that brings salvation, spiritual freedom, love, joy, and patience, and also stresses liberation from slavery and oppression and highlights the exodus experience. In examining the social and theological development of the Afro-Baptist faith over the course of three centuries, this volume demonstrates how black Baptists in Alabama used faith to cope with hostility and repression. Fallin reveals that black Baptist churches were far more than places of worship. They functioned as self-help institutions within black communities and served as gathering places for social clubs, benevolent organizations, and political meetings. Church leaders did more than conduct services; they protested segregation and disfranchisement, founded and operated schools, and provided community leaders for the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century. Through black churches, members built banking systems, insurance companies, and welfare structures. Since the gains of the civil rights era, black Baptists have worked to maintain the gains made in that struggle, church leaders continue to speak for social justice and the rights of the poor, and churches now house day care and Head Start programs. "Uplifting the People" also explores the role of women, the relations between black and white Baptists, and class formation within the black church.

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  • Hardback | 344 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.14 x 33.02mm | 612.35g
  • The University of Alabama Press
  • AlabamaUnited States
  • English
  • 0817315691
  • 9780817315696

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Review quote

"This work makes a significant contribution to the study of American church history. It is clear and does a good job of surfacing figures, communities, and their roles in the history of Black Baptists in Alabama." - Stephen G. Ray Jr., author of Do No Harm: Social Sin and Christian Responsibility"

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About Wilson Fallin

Wilson Fallin Jr. is Professor of History in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of Montevallo and is the author of The African American Church in Birmingham, Alabama, 1815-1963: A Shelter in the Storm. He is president of Birmingham-Easonian Baptist Bible College and has also served as Convention Historian for the National Baptist Convention USA.

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