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The African American church is the longest-standing institution in the community, with its origins in slavery. African American churches are sites where visitors will learn much about black culture. Not every church with a large number of African Americans qualifies as an African American church.

The African American church properly refers to seven major Protestant denominations that existed as separate black institutions during the slavery and racial segregation eras. These churches still carry on many of the past traditions. Proper service etiquette in these denominations may differ vastly from what many churchgoers have experienced


Talking during the service is allowed, even encouraged; in fact, the presiding minister anticipates talking and interruptions from the crowd. Preachers in African American churches use a call-and-response technique. The preacher employs voice inflections and rhetorical flourishes to engender spontaneous responses and shouts from parishioners. Full participation in the service requires shouts of encouragement in response to the sermon, such as, “amen” and “preach it, brother.” The call-and-response during church is an integral part of African American communal solidarity that began during slavery and has its roots in West African cultural traditions.
Dressing in your “Sunday best” is a reality in the black church. Sporting formal attire is an outward sign of the social respectability all African American churches expect members to exude. Church attendance practically requires formal dress to distinguish members from the non-churchgoers of the community.
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Discussion: The Black Church and Why Its Traditions Still Stand Up Today  was originally published on