History of the Black Church in America

An Overview of Race, Class, and Gender in the African-American Church
Rating: 4.6 out of 5 (40 ratings)
1,146 students
English [Auto]

To describe the history of the Black Church in America from a well-rounded perspective
To convey a variety of ideas as it relates to the Black Church in America
To refine and develop a deeper understanding of church denomination as it relates to the African experience in America
To differentiate between the type of Christian denominations found in the Black community
To challenge and aim to debunk stereotypes connected with specific Black Churches


  • You should be able to use a PC at a beginner level


Learn about the purpose and function of the Black Church in America and differentiate between the various Christian denominations found within the African-American community. Explore many thought-provoking, social, and spiritual themes within Africana Studies.

Refine and develop a deeper understanding of your own church denomination and/or the spiritual ordinances that shape another denomination.

  • Discover the first African-American founded Christian denominations

  • Examine the role of slaveholding religion, liberation theology, and Black cosmology in American society

  • Review the history of multiculturalism in the early Pentecostal Church movement

  • Uncover the influence of race, class, and gender in the Black Church


Become a well-rounded church leader or member.

Many churches and religious institutions seek resources to develop strong, well-rounded leaders as well as informed members. This course explores often overlooked sections of the Black Religious experience in America. By understanding these underrepresented histories within the African-American community, you will be able to evangelize and implement relevant and effective community outreach programs as well as efficiently minister to and from within the Black community in America. 

You will also be exposed to tools and information to jumpstart your overall ministry or further develop specific departments within your current ministry (i.e. Sunday School or Music Ministry). If you are not a church leader and simply interested in Black Church history, this course creates an opportunity for you to evaluate the cultural and religious foundation on which a great bulk of the African-American community stands.

Content and Overview

This is a beginner's level course. No prerequisites are required. The course is divided into eight (8) lectures and explores the history of the Black Church in America pre- and post emancipation. It illuminates the creation of "Praise Houses," Black Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches as well as African Initiated and Pentecostal denominations. It also examines the role Christianity played in shaping the African-American community from the 17th century to the Non-Denominational Church Movement of the 1980-1990s. The course includes:

  • Access to OnDemand Video Lectures

Let’s face it… unless you attend a college or university (or even a progressive church), you may not receive this information anywhere else. Many people attend weekly church services just out of habit without any idea of the diverse heritages that shape their religious communities. The aim of this course is to be informative but interesting. This course is not a Bible Study group. The approach and format is academic, which uses both sacred and secular literary sources. You must have access to a PC, laptop, or smartphone and at least be able to use it on a beginner level. Other than that, just bring your interests and I’ll take it from there.

Who this course is for:

  • Anyone interested in the history of the Black Church and Christianity as it relates to the African-American community
  • Interested in exploring controversial topics regarding religion/spirituality in the Black community
  • Sympathetic to the Black community's sociocultural experience (both positive and negative) in America


Africana Studies Instructor
Content Johnson
  • 4.6 Instructor Rating
  • 40 Reviews
  • 1,146 Students
  • 1 Course

Born and Raised in Alexandria, Virginia. Professional singer and songwriter. Bachelor of Arts in African-American Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University (2005). Master of Arts in Communications: Film and Video Production from American University (2015). Founder of the Cultural Research and Arts Foundation where Teaching meets Talent (CRAFTT). Member and Licensed Minister, New Pentecostal Church (2013).