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A Plea for British Black Theologies

The Black Church Movement in Britain in its transatlantic cultural and theological interaction with special reference to the Pentecostal Oneness (Apostolic) and Sabbatarian Movements

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Roswith Gerloff

Since the Second World War more than 1.000 Black independent congregations in around 300 different organizations have sprung up all over Britain. The immigration of Afro-Caribbeans and West Africans has led to the emergence and growth of many churches which flourish in the cities and attract a growing number of members. They now play an increasingly active role in the social and ecumenical life of the nation which is reflected in co-operation with the 'New Instrument' of the British churches. They comprise a rich diversity of theological traditions and cultural inheritance, some in an interesting blend, some in a struggle with White elements. Existence and growth of these communities have often been explained by factors inherent in British society, such as social deprivation and English racism. The book attempts to prove that, as much these are a reality, they do not account for the dynamics of the movement, its proliferation and stability. Rather these are carried by strong cultural and theological forces which moulded the spiritual experience of the African diaspora. They carry a living faith, sound contextual theologies, and a form of organization which presents a model for other ethnic minorities.

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VOLUME ONE

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, and to Neill Wigley, Birmingham, for some excellent pictures. Last but certainly not least my deepest gratitude to Use Browne who typed the manuscript, never lost patience with constant alterations, endured the pressure of many years , and did not even despair in the final editing stages. Since simultaneously she had to provide the top copy for publication with the Verlag Peter Lang, I consider that she deserves a commendation. XIV Finally, as I always worked full-time beside this project (except for the research trip in 1973), there are many friends and colleagues who suffered from my withdrawal into the four walls of a research collection. My thankfulness to those who understood, members of the Oxford German Church who were appreciative from the perspective of racially persecuted people, and those of the Christus Immanuel Church and Ecumenical Centre Frankfurt who eventually decided to set me free for completing the last sections - against the disinterest of the surrounding German environment. My colleague Alexander Kaestner has borne this situation with admirable patience - I hope, for the greater honour of God. German friends , young and old, Catholic and Protestant, such as Tonie Schafer, Gerda Otto and Gundula Schmidt, have supported me spiritually and practically. For any defects in the manuscript, I take sole responsibility. Black Christian experience proclaims that God works through people, and also through their mistakes, as the Spirit works through our incomplete human spirit in order to bring justice, love and healing into a cruel world. Roswith Gerloff Written...

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