In the late 18th and early 19th century, thousands of Americans, black and white, enslaved and free, were swept up in the revival known as the Second Great Awakening.
In the South, the religious fervor of evangelical Christianity resonated easily with the emotive religious traditions brought from West Africa.
Marilyn Mellowes was principally responsible for the research and development of the series God in America and has served as its series producer.
In time, a Second and a Third African Church were formed, also led by black pastors.
In the North, blacks had more authority over their religious affairs.
Today "the black church" is widely understood to include the following seven major black Protestant denominations: the National Baptist Convention, the National Baptist Convention of America, the Progressive National Convention, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and the Church of God in Christ.
New historical evidence documents the arrival of slaves in the English settlement in Jamestown, Va., in 1619.
Here they provided the hard manual labor that supported the South's biggest crops: cotton and tobacco.
In the South, Anglican ministers sponsored by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, founded in England, made earnest attempts to teach Christianity by rote memorization; the approach had little appeal.
They came from the kingdoms of Ndongo and Kongo, in present-day Angola and the coastal Congo.
In the 1500s, the Portuguese conquered both kingdoms and carried Catholicism to West Africa.
In the 1830s and 1840s, Southern churchmen undertook an active campaign to persuade plantation owners that slaves must be brought into to the Christian fold.
Because plantations were located far from churches, this meant that the church had to be carried to the plantation.
During the 1770s and 1780s, black ministers began to preach to their own people, drawing on the stories, people and events depicted in the Old and New Testaments.