God's People and the History of African American Worship – WRSP 671

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 09/05/2023

Course Description

This course documents the history of African American worship through the Black experience, from the 17th Century to the present. Included in this study is an examination of the development of the African American church and the influential role of preaching, praying, and music in African American worship.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


Understanding the history of African American worship allows the worship leader in an African American or multi-cultural church to use the knowledge gained and historical applications to formulate an appreciation of African American worship in today's context in order to chart a course for the future of worship that is relevant and reflective of God's ultimate purpose for unhindered authentic worship.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations/notes

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (5)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to provide a thread in response to the provided prompt for each discussion topic that will be drawn from the assigned readings such as The Next Worship by Sandra Van Opstal, The Heart of Black Preaching by Cleophus LaRue, and Somebody’s Calling My Name by Wyatt Tee Walker. The thread must be 400 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge, supported with at least 1 course reference and 1 scholarly citation. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to two (2) other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be 200 words, supported with at least 1 scholarly citation. (Measurable Learning Outcomes 2, 3, 4, 6, 7)

Research and Practical Application Paper Assignment

Students will Research and write a minimum 8-10 pages paper (Turabian Format) on a selected topic drawn from assigned readings in Black Church Beginnings by Henry Mitchell and African American Christian Worship by Melva Costen. The practical application paper will include an actual timeline of the significant events/developments that relate to the topic and a bibliography (Turabian format) of selected sources to support the topic (at least 7 sources – books, articles, videos, etc.). (Measurable Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 6)

Lecture and PowerPoint Presentation Assignment

The student will prepare a lecture and a presentation (a PowerPoint along with a written lecture of the presentation) in Turabian format, that addresses a major misconception/issue about Christianity and its relationship to African American worship. The lecture should be 6-8 pages, not including the title page and bibliography, and the PowerPoint should be at least 10 slides. The presentation should be 10-15 minutes in length. (Measurable Learning Outcomes 3, 5, 6, 7)

Prayer Analysis Report Assignment

Students are to complete a Prayer Analysis Report (minimum 13 pages) based on excerpts of prayers from the book: Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans by James Melvin Washington. Prayers will be posted in Canvas for students to read and analyze. (Measurable Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 6)

Song Analysis Report Assignment

Students will complete a Song Analysis Report (minimum 13 pages) covering African American spirituals, hymns, and gospel music from the 17th Century to the 21st Century. (Measurable Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 6)

Pedagogy Project Assignment

The student will develop a three modules course (3 modules) for a 3 week guest lecture series on topics related to the history and relevance of African American worship in the 21st Century. This 3 week course should be designed to be taught in a college/university or church course offering context. As part of this project the student will develop the following materials: Syllabus, Module Outline, Three Lectures and a PowerPoint. The lectures for each of the three modules should be 4-5 pages long and written using Turabian format, including title page, footnotes and bibliography (5-6 sources per lecture). (Measurable Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 4, 6, 7)