Degree Year

1985

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Anthropology

Keywords

Anthropology, Pentecostal, Black, Fieldwork, Religion, Oberlin, Charismatic, Ritual

Abstract

This paper is the result of a field study of Holiness Tabernacle, a pseudonym for a local Black Pentecostal church. I conceived of the project as a way to combine my interest in both anthropology and religion and also to provide me with an introduction to anthropological fieldwork. The primary focus of my work, then, has been on fieldwork rather than on library research, although I have integrated both in this paper. Further, because of my emphasis on fieldwork I have chosen not to concentrate on the fact that this is a Black church, due to my lack of knowledge in the realm of Black Studies. While by no means ignoring that Holiness Tabernacle is a Black church, I have focused instead on its Pentecostal identity.

This paper thus begins by setting out a context in which to understand Holiness Tabernacle and its ritual and ends by examining ways in which beliefs expressed in the ritual are acted out in daily life. It presents a picture of a church that strives to maintain a close relationship with God, one that grows out of the ritual and then is carried into daily life. The value of such a study is not limited to an understanding of one small church in one small town, however. It enhances the understanding of a myriad of other small sects that, while differing on minor points, share the same Pentecostal/holiness orientation. It is, finally, a contribution to a topic of perennial interest to anthropology, that of humanity's age-old involvement in the realm of the religious.

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