Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church

by Barbara A. Holmes. Augsburg Fortress , 2004.
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The Black church has a longstanding history with contemplative practice, though most in the church would not know to name their experiences as such. In Joy Unspeakable, Barbara Holmes traces the roots of contemplative practices in the black church that from her perspective were “forged in oppression and sustained by practices that were often covert and intuitive.” Through her research of oral tradition, church records, and written accounts, Holmes illuminates the contemplative experience embedded within African American Christian worship and in the history of African monasticism. Sure to ignite yearning through Holmes beautiful stories and prose, Joy Unspeakable will uncover the historical treasure of Christian contemplative spirituality in the black church and beg for its intentional return to individual and corporate worship. This e-book would be appreciated by all who are seeking a contemplative spirituality, and especially those who are Protestant African Americans. It could ignite stimulating conversations for small groups, provide valuable ideas for worship leaders, and suggest an excellent framework for pastors designing a sermon series on contemplative spirituality.

Reviewed by Beth Booram

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