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Unceasing MilitantThe Life of Mary Church Terrell$
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Alison M. Parker

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781469659381

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469659381.001.0001

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Personal Peace and Social Justice

(p.235) 12 Religion
Unceasing Militant

Alison M. Parker

University of North Carolina Press

For most of Terrell’s life, Christianity provided her with a social structure, a network, a community, and a set of ideals by which she aspired to live. A member of the Congregational Church, her liberal theology and embrace of the “Church Militant” focused on freedom in this world as well as the next. Theologically and socially liberal, Terrell’s ecumenical goal was unity and cooperation among all denominations. Terrell hoped for a racially integrated and activist militant church. Terrell’s encounter with the Oxford Group movement introduced her to a predominantly white nondenominational evangelical religious movement. Founded after World War I by Frank Buchman, the Oxford Group was at the peak of its popularity in 1936, when almost 10,000 people, including Terrell, attended its First National Assembly, in Massachusetts. But the Oxford Group could not become ballast for her because its members did not treat her or other African Americans as equals. In the late 1940s, Terrell finally felt optimistic when Christian ministers began to engage in the Civil Rights Movement. The interracial Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) began bringing blacks and whites together to practice a Christianity based on love, freedom, and racial justice.

Keywords:   Congregational Church, Oxford Group, Frank Buchman, “Church Militant”, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Civil Rights Movement

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