Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Developing parameters for researching family church history

A cousin asked today. . .

Question for you...I was raised in a White Methodist Church...A black Presbyterian Church...and in the Summers I would be at the AME Church with my Grandmother. I did visit the Black Baptist Churches and have visited at least 40 to 50 other churches through campaigning.I know they all have their own church histories. My question to you is...are you looking at all the various types of Black Churches in the Harlowe, Craven County area, and also looking at the Political make-up of each church? 
Good questions! The purpose of my particular research is to reconstruct the greater religious and social atmosphere of the area where my husband's ancestors lived, which acts as a backdrop for the book I am writing. It also allows me to become more sympathetic with specific struggles and victories within the community.

So, to answer the first part of this question:
No, I do not plan to examine all the various types of Black churches in the area. I plan to focus on the older family churches formed by Northern missionary efforts during Reconstruction which have significant impact on our ancestry. 

 Let's take a look at the older family churches found within the Havelock, NC area.

While there are many other churches in the greater New Bern/Havelock/Beaufort area of Craven County, the above churches have cemeteries which have been recorded on family death certificates, and which have been spoken about by living family members. 
So, the first step in establishing which churches you need to focus your historical research on is to make a list of those recorded in your ancestors' obituaries (church membership) and death certificates (church cemeteries).

To answer the second part of this question: 
My only interest in the church's political involvement came from my readings about  Bishop James Walker Hood, who advocated for equal educational opportunities for Blacks. In 1864, free public education was a new notion; however, most articles in the North Carolina Times, such as the following one, advocated for education of white children:

North Carolina Times, New Berne, Wednesday, Mar. 16, 1864
It appears, however, that the provision "for the moral and religious training of the colored children of North Carolina" came from a combined effort of the Union Army and Northern philanthropy. And years later, Bishop Hood strongly advocated for the education of Blacks.
North Carolina Times, New Berne, Saturday, March 25, 1864

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