Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Christianizing the Slaves:
“In 1859 it was “mooted on the streets…as to whether the African churches under the care of the North Carolina Conference ought not to be suppressed, and the colored congregations be allowed to worship only in the same churches with white people.” The North Carolina Christian Advocate made a strong appeal for the Negro churches on the ground that the type of preaching which appealed to slaves would be distasteful to whites and that there was not sufficient room in the white churches to accommodate the Negroes.
The Methodists also maintained African missions in the State, located in sections where the Negro population was greatest. The missionaries worked with the plantation Negroes, organizing them into classes, appointing class leaders from among them, conducting Sunday schools and prayer meetings for them. The Presbyterian, Lutheran, Moravian and Episcopal churches also made a serious effort to give religious instruction to the slaves belonging to their communicants, but they were not as aggressive in Christianizing the Negroes as were the Baptists and Methodists.
Many masters felt, as did a correspondent of the North Carolina Presbyterian, that, next to their children, their servants had “the highest claims upon their benevolent feelings.” Some masters insisted that their slaves attend family prayers once a day; some built churches for the exclusive use of the plantation. And black and white worshipped together as one family. In 1827, Judge Cameron erected a chapel, “a neat and pleasant place of worship,” on his plantation between Hillsboro and Roxboro. That year the Bishop baptized twenty-six, only one of whom was a white child.”
(Antebellum North Carolina, A Social History, Guion Griffis Johnson, UNC Press, 1937, pp. 546-547)
Christianizing the Slaves