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Reports of early nineteenth century camp meetings told of exhibitions of "acrobatic Christianity" among the saved, including "jerks, falling, dancing, and barking" (2,53).As frontier Methodism gradually took hold of the camp meeting, the concept of "backsliding" became more of an issue, and the showing of some degree of religious frenzy was usually recognized as a sign that the believer was once again "right with God" (2,118).Realizing that sermons are essentially an aural form of art and not given easily to written transcription, I have included a cassette tape (now a CD, 2004) with examples keyed to text.These examples are from my own library, and several are from recordings off the radio. These examples are there for comparison, but also are included because they in themselves are wonderful examples of the art of oration.HISTORY The history of the black preaching style can be carried back to the Second Great Awakening that occurred in the beginning of the nineteenth century, when dissident white Presbyterian ministers began holding camp meetings outdoors in Kentucky (2,52).
Baptist and Methodist ministers were generally not trained in the seminary, and spoke in the vernacular, preaching fire, brimstone, and damnation to the Presbyterian's more intellectual, reserved style.
As settlers spread south and west, they became geographically separated from their church, and were located over such a wide geographical area that building a centralized church was not financially feasible.