Miraculous Mothers, Empowered Sons, Dutiful Daughters: Two Generations of Gender Practices in a Storefront Sanctified Church


  • Deidre Crumbley

    1. Africana Studies Program Division of Multidisciplinary Studies North Carolina State University P.O. Box 7107 Raleigh, NC 27695–7107
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SUMMARY How did a storefront Sanctified church that was founded and formally led by a female change to one in which female leadership now occurs in ceremonial and ritual arenas, and what does this suggest about the institutionalization of female power? How might the positioning of the investigating ethnographer inform both the anthropological process and a humanistic interpretation of religion? These two questions shape this study of gender dynamics during two generations of an unaffiliated millenarian storefront church of a hundred souls, which began during World War II and has survived into the 21st century. Drawing on interpretations of doctrine, migration narratives, and germane cultural and historical contexts, this work explores the interplay of human agency, cultural legacies, and social contingencies in changing gender practices. As I was raised in this faith community, the study also provides a model for addressing the complexity of conducting insider/outsider ethnography.