Back in the times of slavery in the south the slaves were not allowed to practice their religion how they wanted to. As the great awakening continued on people were looking to express their newfound spirituality through music.
The idea of slaves religious freedom was something that plantation owners weren’t keen on. The plantation owners were afraid of them spreading rebellious ideals so, they made the slaves attend white church services where the singing, clapping, and all out praising they were used to was not encouraged. The slaves, in turn, decided to form their own churches where the plantation owners wouldn’t find them. These churches that always took place at a different location became known as an invisible church. The slaves would risk everything they had just so that they could practice their religion the way they wanted.
The invisible churches included a lot of old negro spirituals, hand clapping, community singing, call and responses, ring shouts, praying shouting and testimonies. The invisible church structure was very similar to an AME church of today, but the only difference was the preacher may not have preached every Sunday. When the preacher did preach and gave his sermon similarly to an AME church the sermon would be intertwined with music and singing. On top of all this the flow of the holy spirit would also contribute to how a service would go. If the spirit was high for instance there tended to be more shouting and praising. All these small moving parts are what made the invisible church the place to be.
In conclusion, the invisible church was the place to be every Sunday. It was the one of the few space slaves could congregate and be able to be who they wanted to be. They were also hubs of information as well, in fact some spirituals they would sing gave instructions on how to flee. The invisible church was truly a one of a kind environment that birthed the backbone of the AME church. Today the invisible churches have been reborn as these beautiful community churches that still keep the spirit of the ones all those years ago.
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