Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Biblical, Religious and Philosophical Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Second Advisor

Dr. Todd Allen


A cold and clear winter day in February brought me to the congregation of Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, sitting still and resolute atop a small hill in modest Atglen, PA. I had arrived to meet “Brother” Clarence Nixon accompanied by his wife, “Sister” Shirley Nixon. The Nixons have been members of the church for just shy of 75 years. Bundled in winter coats, at 95 and 86 years of age, Clarence and Shirley sat down across from myself and Mt. Zion AME Church’s pastor, Rev. Linda Ellerbe, to share some of their life stories. We sat for nearly two hours, as I listened to ordinary and extraordinary memories from Clarence, augmented by occasional anecdotes and reminders from Shirley. As Mt. Zion embarks on a journey of historical rediscovery and memory preservation, I was privileged to be invited to conduct several oral histories for elder members of this congregation. After the interview, as I began to transcribe the recording, one particular moment during the interview captured me so completely that I replayed it several times....