Reclaiming the Tradition of Prophetic Proclamation in the Black Church: The Significance of Proclaiming Life in the Face of Death

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Out of the crucible of racism, pain, dehumanization, subjugation, marginalization, discrimination, enslavement, and death inflicted upon Black bodies, Black persons responded with a hermeneutic of freedom and prophetic proclamation in the North American context. Amidst a death-dealing system of oppression and chattel slavery, Black persons through proclamation—sermons, stories, songs, spirituals, modes of worship, words, lived experiences, and embodied acts of resistance—utilized their faith to challenge the heresy of white supremacy. Black religion and spirituality were conceived and birthed in response to existential pain, suffering and death. Black religion and the Black Church were rooted in a proclamation that not only utilized Christianity in the West, but also refashioned it in order to liberate the mind, body, and soul of Black people from the pangs of unwarranted death – prophetic proclamation.

Undoubtedly, today, in a nation that is scorched by hate, systemic oppression, and injustice, the Black Church of the 21st century is in dire need to recover its ministry of prophetic proclamation in the face of death and evil powers. Although the Black Church’s conception is formed out of prophetic proclamation and resistance to perpetual crisis and death, a number of Black congregations have forgotten the history and tradition of the Black Church. Messages of prosperity have seemingly replaced prophetic proclamation. In this project, I suggest that the survival of the Black Church hangs on the tradition of prophetic proclamation. I suggest that the Black Church will only survive if its mission and ministry are rooted in addressing and responding to the pervasive reality of death inflicted upon Black bodies through varying forms of prophetic proclamation as seen through resistance in the Middle Passage to the modern-day Black Lives Matter Movement.

Given the monumental changes brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, and the continual and perpetual threat of death and oppression upon the Black body in today’s society, the Black Church has been forced to explore ‘church’ in a different way – beyond the four walls of a church building. This new reality shows the Black Church that we must embrace the fluidity and intricacy of proclamation which moves from traditional, pulpit-centered discourse to diverse, enlivened, and embodied discourse which will ultimately transform the lives of Black peoples.





Jones, Calvon Tijuan (2023). Reclaiming the Tradition of Prophetic Proclamation in the Black Church: The Significance of Proclaiming Life in the Face of Death. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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