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The Abundant Life Prevails
Religious Traditions on Saint Helena Island

By Michael C. Wolfe

The Abundant Life Prevails
Hardback, 184 pages $39.95
Published: 1st April 2000
ISBN: 9780918954732

Subjects: All History, American History

In 1861 two religious traditions collided on Saint Helena Island. Already firmly entrenched on the island, the slaves' religion represented a mixture of Southern evangelicalism and African practices. The other, newer tradition would be an imported faith found primarily at the Penn School established for the islanders by Northern missionaries whose Protestantism emphasized citizenship, character development, service, and self-discipline.In The Abundant Life Prevails, Michael Wolfe examines the history of this rich religious life on Saint Helena Island off the coast of South Carolina. Previous works have given extensive attention to the unique linguistic culture of the island called Gullah, but Wolfe is the first to provide a comprehensive treatment of the religious traditions represented there. The story of Saint Helena Island reveals how two vastly different traditions -- missionary and islander -- emerged from their own environments, how each sought particular goals for the island, and how they eventually merged into a living faith community.In our present era, deeply concerned with the conflict of global and local cultures, Saint Helena is an island whose history is instructive. As educators struggle again with the ideals of "character development", the Penn School offers many lessons. And in the midst of debate about the proper relations between religion and government, the history of Penn demonstrates that American society has always been cut from a seamless cloth; that religion has deeply affected our values, both public and private.


1. Antebellum Days

2. First Days Among the Contrabands

3. The Islanders, 1861-1900

4. The Mission Expands

5. The Abundant Life Arrives

6. The Faith of an Island

7. The End of the School

8. Penn Center: The Little Foe of All the World, 1950-1970

9. Heritage Days




"A sub-text on every page is the renewable hope in the struggle for racial reconciliation in America."

Kevin Lewis, University of South Carolina

Michael C. Wolfe received his Ph.D. in European and American Religious History from the University of Virginia. An ordained Methodist minister, he currently serves as chaplain and instructor of religion at Spartanburg Methodist College.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 184 pages

 Baylor University Press

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