Christianity

Latter Day Saints Movement

Latter Day Saints MovementThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known for many years as the Mormon Church, is the largest movement descended from the prophetic claims of Joseph Smith. In the mid-19th century, Smith’s followers moved from upstate New York, Smith’s home, to the West, eventually reaching Utah, where they founded Salt Lake City. Through the present day, members of the movement continue to negotiate their place within Christianity and American society.

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American Catholicism

American CatholicismAmerican Catholicism was defined by waves of immigration: older populations in Maryland and the Southwest were joined in the 19th and 20th centuries by immigrants from Europe and Latin America. Tensions between various nationalities, in addition to a dialectic between assimilation and the preservation of devotional practices, defined 20th century Catholic life. The 20th century also saw the election of the first Catholic president of the United States.

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African American Christianity

African American ChristianityThe First Great Awakening led many enslaved people in the United States to convert to Christianity. Through the 18th and 19th centuries, distinct Black churches emerged, seeking autonomy from white Christians. These congregations grew into denominations, and many thrive in the present day. They have served as homes to various political and religious movements, including Black nationalism and liberation theology.

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Christian Settlements

Christian SettlementsThe European colonization of North America created a range of Christian societies. From the Spanish Catholics across the Southwest to the Puritans of Massachusetts, Christian communities emerged across the land that is now the United States.

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The Cross and the Icon

Orthodox Christian Icon

The shape of the cross informs the architecture of many churches, and the symbol’s frequent appearance in the decoration of Christian spaces stands for the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus. For Orthodox Christians, other important images include icons (figurative representations of Christ, the Virgin Mary, or the saints), which adorn worship spaces, are placed in homes, and are carried throughout everyday life.... Read more about The Cross and the Icon

Easter Pilgrimage to Chimayó

Easter Pilgrimage to ChimayoSantuario de Chimayó is a church north of Santa Fe that draws tens of thousands of penitentes, penitential pilgrims, in the week before Easter. The pilgrims seek to participate in Christ’s journey to Calvary, and often take dirt from the church’s miraculous ground with the hope of growing closer to God.

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Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday

Lent is a period of forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. It is a time of penitence and preparation, during which many Christians strengthen their faith through study, prayer, fasting or abstinence. The restriction and solemnity of Lent contrast with the joys of Easter, the Sunday celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and the most important holy day for Christians.

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Advent and Christmas

Advent and Christmas

Advent is a four-week season of preparation for Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ. The prominence of Christmas in American culture has led to the popularization of Christmas carols, the figure of Santa Claus, and the practice of exchanging gifts. Traditions particular to certain expressions of Christianity, such as the Mexican posada, preserve other distinctly religious forms of celebrating Christmas.

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Service and Mission

Service and Mission

Many Christians understand their faith to be a profound call to action for social justice. Some Christians choose to live this call by becoming members of a “mission” community, going into the world to create new church communities, address political and social issues, and meet immediate human needs such as food, housing, and healthcare.

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The Power of Prayer

The Power of Prayer

From Pentecostals speaking in tongues to silent monastic contemplation, prayer is central to Christian life. Prayer can be communal or individual; it might consist of well-established texts, like the Lord’s Prayer, or spontaneous thoughts. Through varied postures, actions, and settings of prayer, Christians engage with God.... Read more about The Power of Prayer

Gospel Music

Gospel Music

Gospel music developed among Black Christians in the United States. Informed by the “ring-shouts” of enslaved people, the gospel genre moved into urban centers during the 20th century and became increasingly popular in both religious and secular contexts.

 

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Sharing the Bread of Life

Sharing the Bread of LifeThe central Christian rite is the Eucharist, a shared meal of bread and wine. For some Christians, the bread and wine, consecrated by a priest, are the real body and blood of Jesus; for others, the sacraments are powerful symbolic reminders of the meal Jesus shared with his disciples before his crucifixion.

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Church: Space and Spirit

Church Space and SpiritFor Christians, the word “church” refers both to Christian communities (ranging from single congregations to all of the religion’s adherents across time and space) and to the buildings where they gather to worship, pray, and fellowship together. These structures also vary in size, from single-room sanctuaries to immense megachurches.

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