Clarence R. J. Rivers' Vision of Effective African American Worship

Mary E. McGann

in Let It Shine!

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780823229918
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823236633 | DOI:
Clarence R. J. Rivers' Vision of Effective African American               Worship

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This chapter examines the foundational vision of Catholic worship articulated by Father Clarence R. J. Rivers in the 1970s. Rivers—at once a musician, theologian, liturgist, composer, dramatist, and priest of the diocese of Cincinnati—worked to educate and “liberate” Black Catholics to reclaim the fullness of their ethno-religious patrimony. His writings articulate an understanding of “effective” African American worship based in the sacramental sensibilities, theological premises, cultural intuitions, and ethical wisdom of Black Christianity. Building on the historical data of the previous chapter—which documents Rivers' crucial and prophetic leadership in fueling a renaissance in Black worship, music, preaching, and prayer—the author lays out Rivers' performative approach to Catholic liturgy, and enumerates the cultural-religious foundations on which it is based. It concludes by noting the salience of Rivers' vision, articulated in the 1970s, for the contemporary church.

Keywords: Catholic worship; Black Catholic; African American Catholics; Black Christianity

Chapter.  9701 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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