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Rebecca Protten and the origins of African American Christianity.
May 15, 2005 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Rebecca's Revival. Rebecca Protten, born a slave in 1718, gained her freedom and joined a group of proselytizers from the Moravian Church. She embarked on an itinerant mission, preaching to hundreds of the enslaved Africans of St. Thomas, West Indies. Weathering persecution from hostile planters, Protten and other black preachers created the earliest African Protestant congregation in the Americas. University of Florida historian Jon Sensbach has written a book about Protten's life -- the interracial marriage, the trial on charges of blasphemy and inciting of slaves, the travels to Germany and West Africa. Later in her life, after she moved to Germany, Rebecca was ordained as a deaconess: "a former slave now administered Communion and practiced other claims to spiritual authority over white women, including European aristocrats." More inside.
posted by matteo (4 comments total)

 
also of interest, Sensbach's previous book:
A Separate Canaan: The Making of an Afro-Moravian World in North Carolina, 1763-1840
posted by matteo at 9:48 AM on May 15, 2005


Thanks for that.
posted by TimothyMason at 10:24 AM on May 15, 2005


As a Moravian who attended a mixed-race church, I found this very interesting. At Old Salem they admit to the colonists' owning of slaves, but portray the town as having a proto-seperate but equal stance. Yes they were slaves, and yes they didn't live with the others in the single brothers or sisters houses, but they were still brothers and sisters in the church.
Moravian success in the West Indies is often internally attributed to missionaries who were more interested in works of good than conversion. The mission plan seemed to be: build a hospital, build a school, and then build a church with the doors open. Be good, and people will come.

I'm buying both of these books tomorrow.
posted by thecjm at 6:33 PM on May 15, 2005


A Separate Canaan looks like an interesting read. From the first page (or actually p.19) - To own a slave or to be a slave -- what did the Savior care, as long as both acknowledged him master?
posted by PY at 5:26 PM on May 16, 2005


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