Date of Graduation

Summer 2021


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

John Schmalzbauer


This thesis is a comparative ethnography of two forms of black Pentecostalism, an African American congregation and an African immigrant congregation. The goal of this project is to show the similarities and differences between these Pentecostal groups. By observing members and interviewing them about worship practices, glossolalic utterances, and gender, the project reveals that although these two groups historically have a common root, there are both real parallels and differences between them because they developed independently from each other. This fieldwork at the African American Deliverance Temple Ministries and the African immigrant Redeemed Christian Church of God revealed that women do not only constitute the majority but also occupy pastoral and many other sensitive leadership positions. The study found that women used their positions to resist male domination. Church mothers in both churches serve as advisors. However, the black church requires these church mothers to live sanctified lives, while in the African immigrant church, they are elevated to this position due to their age. A closer observation of their worship reveals that ecstatic worship in the African American church involves the use of flags, shouting, and moaning, while shouting and moaning are considered a distraction in the African immigrant church unless there is a call and response during preaching. The ethnography reveals that the understanding and effectiveness of glossolalia differs between these groups and among members of the same church. Ultimately, glossolalia characterizes African immigrant worship while the African American church does not pay attention to it.


Pentecostalism, sanctification, tongues speaking, glossolalia, spirituality, women, ethnography, religious marketplace, Holy Spirit

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Christianity | Ethnic Studies


© Emmanuel Kumah

Open Access