The Labor of Faith: Gender and Power in Black Apostolic Pentecostalism
Judith Casselberry is Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Bowdoin College. A vocalist and guitarist, Casselberry was a member of the award-winning reggae duo Casselberry-DuPreé and currently performs internationally with Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely.
This chapter shows the ways in which women conduct overlapping organizational and spiritual labor through officially recognized auxiliaries. They began arranging these horizontal networks to further the mission of the Jesus-only church in the early 1920s by establishing the three “women’s auxiliaries”—the International Missionary Department (1923), the Women’s Council (1952), and the Ministers’ and Deacons’ Wives Guild (1956). This examination of women’s intersecting organizational and spiritual labor shows that formal and informal management by women at microlevels (re-) produces doctrinal notions of Black religious female personhood. This, in turn, shores up regional, state, and national male hierarchical structures that were introduced in the 1960s, four decades after women’s horizontal webs of labor had begun servicing the overwhelmingly female congregations. This chapter also explores the unique challenges that pastor’s wives face, which none of the women’s auxiliaries can effectively address.
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