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The pivotal role of the Black Church in the lives of African Americans can not be described in words short of “life saving.” The church provided the foundation for the very survival of African Americans in North America during and after slavery. It has been noted that most of the first Black congregations and churches formed before 1800 were founded by free Blacks. These individuals saw the church as an institution that could provide earthly comforts, and eventually, heavenly salvation.
The Black Church has played - - and continue to play - - different roles in the lives of their members. First and foremost, the church has played a religious role. The church has been that calming element in the Black community. The church has also served as the one institution in the Black community where a variety of causes and organizations could meet and develop strategies and tactics to deal with pressing short and long-term issues in the community. The church provided a ready made laboratory for different groups to experiment with ways to solve and address concern in the community.
The Black church has been the keeper of the cultural trends in the community. The varying organizations have used the church as the foundation for building and developing the cultural components in most communities. The birthing of different economic development groups has occurred over time in the Black Church. These organizations have used the captured membership as a way to execute ideas to enhance the Black Community.
The central role of the Black Church in the modern-day Civil Rights Movement will be explored from all perspectives. To be sure, those civil rights organizations that were not founded in the church were profoundly influenced by church leaders and their membership.