African American Churches and Birmingham’s Religious Landscape

Last month I was delighted to give two talks in the Sunday Forum series at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. They are both available on the church’s Christian formation YouTube channel. This posts provides links to them and to some of the other sources I mentioned.

In the first I use Sixteenth Street Baptist Church as a departure point for talking about two things (1) the church buildings of Wallace Rayfield, Birmingham’s first African American architect, (2) and images of Jesus in nineteenth-century and twentieth-century America, especially John Petts’s Wales Window for Alabama.

In the second, I discuss (1) offer an overview of some of the migrations of people and congregations in twentieth-century Birmingham, (2) explore the African American churches of Woodlawn, including the lost neighborhood of Groveland, and (3) discuss the geography of churches that took an active role in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, highlighting some of the landmarks that are off the beaten path.

The half hour discussion about the September 15, 1963, bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church with Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr and novelist James Baldwin is available here:

My map of the location of many of the churches in Birmingham, Alabama, designed by Wallace A. Rayfield is here:

Magic City Religion is a student-learning-focused project documenting religion in Birmingham Alabama. Essays especially related to this presentation include:

Chasing Churches is the professional academic blog of David R. Bains, professor, department of biblical & religious studies, Samford University. Posts related to this lecture include:

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