During the renaissance movement, the dominant Black anchor institution up to this point was far from silent. Although there was little significant mention of the Black church, in the literature, poetry, music and art, the Black church did, indeed thrive and to an extent resist the cultural and humanistic strivings of the renaissance. During this time some of the largest Black churches in America included Abyssinia Baptist Church in Harlem (led by Adam Clayton Powell, Sr.), and Immanuel Church of God in Christ along with the California Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ (led by Bishop Samuel Crouch). These two particular churches numbered upward to 5,000 plus members, alone. Also originating from Harlem during this time was Father Divine and Sweet Daddy Grace. In California, COGIC, under the leadership of Crouch, founded, Crouch Temple which essentially became the focal point of religious Pentecostal life in Los Angeles; the growth of this church ensued from the well known Los Angeles Azusa Street Revival (led by William J. Seymour). At its height, COGIC life in Los Angeles flourished as the fastest growing regional religious movement throughout America. Both Immanuel Temple and Crouch Temple were located within the Central Avenue District, the epicenter of Black Renaissance in Los Angeles.
The Black church seems to have initially resisted the influence and strides of the renaissance movement. And even though this period lasted for only a short time, roughly two decades, its later impact upon the Black church eventually loomed large. The “so-called” New Negro within Black church circles appeared essentially at the end of the renaissance period, especially with the emergence of Benjamin E. Mays, Howard Thurman, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Martin Luther King, Jr. These individuals, to borrow from Locke’s emphasis regarding the renaissance’s objective on ‘Modernizing Black America,’ became the modernized intellectual Black theological elite.