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Clothing-optional Church Services

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I had to chuckle a bit yesterday evening when I was reading a book and came across this passage by C.G.A. Oldendorp, a Moravian missionary to the now-USVI in 1767-1768. I love the delicate wording:

“Owing to the hot climate of his native land, the African Negro is accustomed from childhood to go around almost entirely naked. This practice was continued by the slaves in the West Indies as well, until a remarkable transformation in their behavior was effected by the mission which the Brethren initiated in these islands. For as the gospel [sic] found an entry into the hearts of the Negroes there, there [they?] were soon convinced of the impropriety of a predominantly naked church meeting. The baptized Negroes took the first step by coming to church fully clothed, and the others followed their example on their own. So it has occurred that the Negroes in these islands presently observe more respectability in matters of dress.” (C.G.A. Oldendorp, “A History of the Mission of the Evangelical Brethren,” in The Kamina Folk: Slavery and Slave Life in the Danish West Indies, George F. Tyson and Arnold R. Highfield, eds. [The Virgin Islands Humanities Council, USVI:1997], p. 74.)

Now, if we could just get those scantily clad locals on the Christiansted boardwalk to put on more….

Posted : September 20, 2004 10:37 am
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