STOREFRONT CHURCHES As opposed to the larger and more conventional church or cathedral-type edifice, the so-called storefront church (or house church) is usually set up in a vacant store or in a private residence. Located almost exclusively in innercity black ghettos, storefront churches came into vogue during the 1920's in response to the Great Migration of southern blacks to northern urban areas. Some of these churches are affiliated with larger church bodies, while some represent "one-man" operations maintained by a self-appointed evangelist or cultist.
Possessing an infinite variety of names (e.g., "The Temple of the Gospel of the Kingdom," "St. Mark's Church of Divine Silence and Truth," "Tabernacle of Sister Bess," "Holy Temple of God
in Christ," etc.), African American storefront churches generally are legitimate operations run by sincere evangelists or cultists. Nevertheless, many self-serving exploiters and charlatans have been known to open storefront churches with only personal gain in mind. Such individuals, of course, prey upon the fears and frustrations of those whose lives and minds have been affected by the wretched conditions of the ghetto itself. Nevertheless, most of the storefront churches, legitimate or otherwise, do provide the worshipers with a degree of security, camaraderie and certainly an outlet for pent-up emotions.