Any research project that extends over a period of years accumulates countless debts of gratitude. This project is no different. It has benefited from the wisdom and insight of those who nurtured it in its nascent days to its most formative stages. To all of these copious readers, named and unnamed, thank you!
I am appreciative of the friends and colleagues who read and offered comments on drafts of this project in whole or in part—John L. Jackson, Carolyn Rouse, Jonathan Walton, Wendy Cadge, Peter Cahn, R. Marie Griffith, David Hall, Robin Bernstein, Malika Zeghal, Judith Weisenfeld, and Monica Coleman. Your sharp critiques have given life to this work. In addition, the biweekly community of scholars gathered for the North American Religions Colloquium at Harvard Divinity School provided meaningful feedback during a critical period of this project’s development. An invitation from Judith Casselberry to keynote a conference on women and Pentecostalism figured centrally in my thinking on how to frame the conversation on gender in this book. In the spring of 2014 Jacob Olupona, Simon Coleman, Birgit Meyer, Brian Goldstone, and Jean Comaroff offered useful feedback as respondents and participants in a colloquium on religion and media coordinated by Annalisa Butticci, then a visiting fellow at Harvard Divinity School. Faculty colleagues at Harvard University both in African and African American Studies and the Committee on the Study of Religion consistently create a vibrant scholarly community that sharpens my thinking on all things religious, African American, and Diasporic. In addition, colleagues at Northwestern University, where I spent a rewarding semester as visiting faculty in the Department of African American Studies, embraced my work and helped me push forward new ideas on this subject. A special thanks to Darlene Clark Hine, Robert Orsi, and Larry Murphy.
I received further feedback while participating in various conferences and serving as a visiting lecturer on many different college campuses. I would like to especially thank R. Drew Smith and the Transatlantic Roundtable on Race and Religion for allowing me to participate in such a vibrant community of scholars linking, both theoretically and practically, the concerns of black religionists across the Diaspora. I am grateful to all of the university sponsors who invited me to share my research in the United States, the Caribbean, China, and Ghana, especially my alma maters, Spelman College and Duke University, among numerous others. On each occasion questions from the faculty and students pushed me closer to a final project.
Truly, the devil is in the details, and a small cadre of current and former graduate students have helped iron out these details either through transcribing interviews, finding citations, clarifying footnotes, and/or offering editorial advice. To Monique Callahan, Tyler Zoanni, Kera Street, Charrise Barron, and Helen Jin Kim belong countless hugs of gratitude. I look forward to one day reading your own published volumes!
Institutional sponsors funded the travel and research portion of this work and helped provide extended writing opportunities. I am grateful for support from the Louisville Institute, the Milton Fund, the Center for the Study of World Religions, and the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University.
Life happens while writing a book, and my life is no exception. In my darkest hours, great friends stood beside me and encouraged me to continue. I am eternally grateful to my dinner crew, who supported me, “ideally” reading through various versions of earlier drafts as my soul healed. This circle of friends included Bill Banfield, Krystal Banfield, Atu White, Yolanda Lenzy White, Jeanette Callahan, and Melinda Weekes-Laidlow. You all are true blue! And to the one who really did the reading for all of our dinner discussions, Allen Callahan, words cannot express my sincerest gratitude. Your keen insights, editorial remarks, and poignant critiques have enhanced this project beyond measure.
Two of the world’s greatest pastors help me keep my heart, mind, and soul above the waters—Drs. Ray and Gloria White-Hammond, you are one of a kind and you pastor a special community of believers at Bethel AME Church.
I could not have completed this project without the faithful assistance of Alice Pink of the Jamaica Theological Seminary as she guided me through the many conditions of conducting research in Jamaica. Her friendship and thoughtful advice made my time in Jamaica both extremely productive and enjoyable. I am also thankful to the pastors, media industry leaders, and laypersons across Kingston who agreed to sit and talk with me for hours about their work, personal lives, and experiences of faith. I am tremendously indebted furthermore to the pioneering American televangelists Bishop Carlton Pearson and the late Rev. Frederick Eikerenkoetter for their willingness to speak with me and offer their unique insights into this world.
At long last, this book is in print because of the editors at Stanford University Press. Thanks especially to John L. Jackson and David Kim, who believed that this book would make a valuable contribution to their new series RaceReligion, and to Emily-Jane Cohen for signing off on the deal. Your insight and support are deeply treasured.
A final note of profound gratitude belongs to my family and friends—all the usual extraordinary cheerleaders as well as the new ones, Eric and Miles. Your love and support—a breath of life.