By Catherine Collins
Dr. Tamelyn Tucker-Worgs, associate professor of political science, has published a book entitled “The Black Megachurch: Theology, Gender, and the Politics of Public Engagement,” which draws from 10 years of research and data collection to serve as the first empirical study of the black megachurch phenomenon in the United States.
Tucker-Worgs will host a lecture followed by a book signing and a reception to celebrate the publication of the book on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in Whitaker Campus Commons.
Black megachurches, which are communities of tens of thousands of patrons, became a phenomenon around 1980 after the American civil rights movement in the 1960s. Tucker-Worgs’s book studies 149 megachurches to draw conclusions about their effectiveness regarding the modern problems facing African-Americans in this country.
“The basic question that I sought to address with the book was: What role are black megachurches playing in contemporary public life?” Tucker-Worgs said in an e-mail. “Particularly, do they address or even attempt to address the challenges that face black communities in the post-civil rights era (examples of these challenges: health, income, education disparities that still exist despite all the progress that the CRM was instrumental in making)?”
To research the book, Tucker-Worgs conducted surveys among various pastors of megachurches and directors of companies affected by megachurches; visited and observed over 50 megachurches; analyzed sermons and documents from megachurches; and interviewed members of the churches.
“A lot has been said and written about the black megachurch, but little of it with empirical evidence,” she said. “It mostly looks at them as homogenous – like they don’t vary. I found that they are very diverse, especially in how they engage public life.”
As its title implies, the book considers three aspects of the megachurch phenomenon – a church’s theological viewpoint, the role of gender in its leadership, and its community involvement – to make conclusions about various churches’ effectiveness in addressing modern inequality.