These Black Church Traditions Have Endured Through The Ages

Barack Obama said this about the Black church: “Nothing is more powerful than the black church experience. A good choir and a good sermon in the black church, it's pretty hard not to be moved and be transported.” Here are some of the traditions we love about the Black church experience.

These Black Church Traditions Have Endured Through The Ages
Via Flickr

Historically the Black church was a place where we escaped from white oppression, organized to fight for our rights, and to find peace. Though the role of the church is changing for younger generations, there are some Black church traditions that are undeniably ours.

#1: The Choir Marching In

When the music starts and the congregation stands, magic is about to happen. There’s nothing too extra, too colorful, or too off-limits for the entrance of the choir.

#2: Hand Clapping

Music in the Black church is more than just sound. It’s worship,  mourning, and praying. Above all it’s performance. Clapping isn’t about keeping the beat. It’s about honoring all the different types of music that inform our culture, including gospel music: West African drumming, jazz, and other genres from the diaspora.

#3: Catching The Holy Ghost

In the Black church, the Holy Ghost can show up in many ways: crying, rocking, speaking in tongues, running, or raising hands in all-out praise. These emotional moments are ways to let go of the stress from the outside world and to create a sense of spiritual self and community.

The Black Church’s traditions are definitely for “the culture.” Through the ages, the institution, though not perfect, continues to survive. What parts of your worship practice bring you joy?

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