Divine CallingsUnderstanding the Call to Ministry in Black Pentecostalism

Divine CallingsUnderstanding the Call to Ministry in Black Pentecostalism

Richard N. Pitt

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780814768235

Publisher: NYU Press


One of the unique aspects of the religious profession is the high percentage of those who claim to be “called by God” to do their work. This call is particularly important within African American Christian traditions. This book offers a rare sociological examination of this markedly understudied phenomenon within black ministry. It draws on over one hundred in-depth interviews with Black Pentecostal ministers in the Church of God in Christ—both those ordained and licensed and those aspiring—to examine how these men and women experience and pursue “the call.” Viewing divine calling as much as a social process as it is a spiritual one, the book delves into the personal stories of these individuals to explore their work as active agents in the process of fulfilling their calling. In some cases, those called cannot find pastoral work due to gender discrimination, lack of clergy positions, and educational deficiencies. The book looks specifically at how those who have not obtained clergy positions understand their call, exploring the influences of psychological experience, the congregational acceptance of their call, and their response to the training process. It emphasizes how those called reconceptualize clericalism in terms of who can be called, how that call has to be certified, and what those called are meant to do, offering insight into how social actors adjust to structural constraints.