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Speak to my Heart
Communities of Faith and Contemporary African American Life.

Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture


Identity and Self-Awareness
"Who We Are and Whose We Are"

Congregations may define themselves not only by religious doctrine but also by cultural heritage, ethnicity and language, gender, and/or sexual orientation.

Each congregation has its own "personality"-its own ways of expressing concern for the individual and for cultivating group unity. The church building, its art work, the manner in which members dress, and the performance of certain ceremonies such as weddings reflect Black culture. The need to see "self" in images of the divine has caused increased use of African and African American motifs in a number of Black churches.

Statue of St. Martine de Porres
The statue of St. Martin de Porres is one of the first things one sees on entering the sanctuary of St. Augustine Catholic Church, the oldest Black Catholic congregation in Washington, D.C. The church was founded in 1865 as the Blessed Martin de Porres Chapel and dedicated in 1876 to St. Augustine, a North African bishop and theologian.

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