The black church is a broad term applied to any predominantly African-American Christian church or denomination. The black church does not refer to itself as a sect or denomination of white Christianity, but as a distinct entity with its own history. The roots of the black church can be traced back to the Christianity taught to African slaves in the United States. Slaves modified this religious teaching and combined it with their African religious traditions, creating an underground church with a unique expression of Christianity and its own leaders and preachers. The first black churches were formed in the late 18th century, and blacks continued to form their own congregations and denominations in the decades that followed. To date, the black church consists of several denominations that were founded on the initiative of African-Americans including African Methodist Episcopalian (AME), AME Zion, Church of God in Christ (COGIC), Missionary Baptists, and others. The black church also includes black congregations within predominantly white denominations. Besides its racial identity, the black church is also characterized by its conservative theology but progressive social and political stances, especially in regard to justice issues. Black Theology was birthed out of the social consciousness of the black church. Black church worship services tend to be energetic and emphasize dynamic preaching and singing including spirituals and gospel music.