Preach It – a new book about African -Caribbean preaching styles

Preaching occupies a premier place in the ecology of African Caribbean Pentecostal church services and ritual. Tomlin’s excellent book throws light on the morphology of this performative practice in a critical and authentic way that will be appreciated by scholars, practitioners and students of this sacred art. With over two decades of studying and observing preaching in African Caribbean Pentecostal churches and worship contexts, she gives readers a fascinating insight into the role and function of preaching in these faith communities, how preachers communicate texts, ‘code switch’, as well as the different preaching methods and types of sermonic discourse utilized by Pentecostal preachers. 

Preaching does not take place in a vacuum, therefore, Tomlin provides social and historical contexts for African Caribbean Pentecostal preaching. Orality, verbal fluency, ‘call and response’, and repetition are all significant stylist devices used in African Caribbean Pentecostal preaching.

In the popular imagination and in the stereotypes of Pentecostal preaching, there is a seductive tendency to privilege the ‘shout’, the ‘noise’ and the loud speaking. Tomlin’s study goes beyond this to uncover the dialectical relationship between ‘sound and motion’ where spiritual energy is released in preaching, where there is a ‘synergy of movement’ between the preacher and the congregation-where the preacher is viewed as ‘anointed’. This is an important and timely study of an art form that still has revolutionary and redemptive power. Tomlin’s book is a must for students, scholars and preachers who want to understand the phenomenon of preaching in African Caribbean Pentecostal churches and beyond.

Dr R. David Muir

Senior Lecturer in Ministerial Theology and Public Theology, Roehampton UniversityCo-Chair, National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF)

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