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Photographs of Cleveland's African American Churches

Michael Stephen Levy

150 pages
The Kent State University Press

A rich collection of images celebrating African American faith communities

“Cleveland’s African American houses of worship exemplify the best of American civic vision: building community together for the common good. . . . African American ministers have struggled to define the best way to lead their people toward successful lives. . . . They have been leading their flocks since the first black church was founded in Cleveland in 1833. . . . The photographs in this book . . . reflect the universal themes of the struggle for empowerment, the need for comfort and guidance, and the need for mutual support common to all people.”
—from the Afterword by Norman Krumholz and Michael J. Tevesz

Photographer and teacher Mike Levy has spent most of his career in northeastern Ohio. He was given an assignment from the Cleveland Plain Dealer to photograph a small, storefront church in Cleveland, Ohio, called Manna House. Levy, experiencing some difficult life situations at the time, found healing in the church so he continued to attend and to photograph during the services. Revelations grew out of this assignment.

Revelations captures the spirit of the African American worship experience through arresting images of congregants’ facial expressions and body language, their colorful uniforms and dress, and the solemnity of their worship. The images of baptisms, weddings, funerals, Sunday services, and special celebrations are at once serene and exaltant, pensive and inspirational. Revelations honors not only the spiritual dimension of the African American church but the pride and dignity that prevails within the churchgoing family.

Published in cooperation with Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levine College of Urban Affairs’ Center for Sacred Landmarks

Author Bio
Michael Stephen Levy was a photographer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer for 16 years. Named Ohio’s Photographer of the Year by the Ohio News Photographers Association on five different occasions, most recently in 2005, Levy left the newspaper and started Mike Levy Photography, LLC, where he is currently working. He is the author of Cleveland’s Urban Landscape: The Sacred and the Transient (Kent State University Press, 2003).