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Many worshipped in established, predominantly white congregations, but by the late 18th century, blacks had begun to congregate in self-help and benevolent associations called African Societies.Functioning as quasi-religious organizations, these societies often gave rise to independent black churches.In 1787, for example, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones organized the Free African Society of Philadelphia, which later evolved into two congregations: the Bethel Church, the mother church of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) denomination, and St.Thomas Episcopal Church, which remained affiliated with a white Episcopal denomination. Historian Mary Sawyer notes that by 1810, there were 15 African churches representing four denominations in 10 cities from South Carolina to Massachusetts.It is likely that the slaves who arrived in Jamestown had been baptized Catholic and had Christian names.For the next 200 years, the slave trade exported slaves from Angola, Ghana, Senegal and other parts of West Africa to America's South.They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear.

Occasionally persons of African descent might hear a special sermon from white preachers, but these sermons tended to stress obedience and duty, and the message of the apostle Paul: "Slaves, obey your masters." Both Methodists and Baptists made active efforts to convert enslaved Africans to Christianity; the Methodists also licensed black men to preach.Additional credits include Vietnam: A Television History, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, Castro’s Challenge, The Kennedys, Nixon and Julia! In the fall of 2008, newspapers, talk shows and blogs exploded with news that the Rev.Jeremiah Wright, the African American minister from Chicago's Trinity Church, had denounced the United States with inflammatory language: "God damn America! While many white voters seemed surprised, puzzled and shocked by Wright's angry rhetoric, African Americans were less so.As historian Anthea Butler has observed, the church has been profoundly shaped by regional differences, North and South, East and West, yet in both the private and public spheres, the church was, and remains, sustained and animated by idea of freedom. Many African Americans did not think of themselves as belonging to "the Negro church," but rather described themselves according to denominational affiliations such as Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and even "Saint" of the Sanctified tradition.The term "the black church" evolved from the phrase "the Negro church," the title of a pioneering sociological study of African American Protestant churches at the turn of the century by W. African American Christians were never monolithic; they have always been diverse and their churches highly decentralized.

In the 1830s and 1840s, Southern churchmen undertook an active campaign to persuade plantation owners that slaves must be brought into to the Christian fold.

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