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Embracing ProtestantismBlack Identities in the Atlantic World$
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John W. Catron

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813061634

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813061634.001.0001

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Early Black Atlantic Christianity in the Middle Colonies

Early Black Atlantic Christianity in the Middle Colonies

Chapter:
(p.101) 3 Early Black Atlantic Christianity in the Middle Colonies
Source:
Embracing Protestantism
Author(s):

John W. Catron

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813061634.003.0003

This chapter examines why the German-Moravian settlement of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, became an important center of Atlantic African culture. While a small place, the existence in Bethlehem of rare, first-hand memoirs, diaries, and other documents written by black Christians permits us to explore individual life stories of numerous American and African-born individuals to aid in understanding the complex blend of motivations, strategies, and religious impulses in the African-American embrace of Christianity. Moravian Bethlehem represents in microcosm the coming together of black Atlantic people from many points of origin who found in this particular version of Christianity a common reference for cultural re-formation and for new spiritual and social identities. As such, Bethlehem was an important and influential point in a multi-sided series of Atlantic connections, and even exchanges, between Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and Britain’s Mid-Atlantic colonies. The Moravian’s eastern Pennsylvania settlement was far from Africa and Antigua, making the slave experience there markedly different than in the latter two locales. As different as it was it was connected to black Protestants throughout the Atlantic world by evangelical networks that it had a part in constructing and that in the process created yet another variant of an already diverse black Atlantic culture.

Keywords:   Atlantic-African culture, Black Christians, Evangelical networks, Moravians, Bethlehem, PA

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