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September 28, 2012 2:24 PM   Subscribe

What US religion or religious sub-set uses the titles "Mother" and "Apostle?"

A friend of mine recently had a phone conversation with two women for work. They knew each other well and work together in rural North Carolina, US. The context was discussing a new educational program, but it doesn't matter much, just that it was a purely secular conversation. They called each other "Mother" and "Apostle" respectively. So one would say "Mother, what do you think about that?" and the other would respond, "Well, Apostle, I think that's a fine idea." Not "Mother Nancy" and "Apostle Elizabeth" just "Mother" and "Apostle." In fact at one point "Mother" said to my friend, "Apostle, who you call Elizabeth, will be taking on that role."

What gives? This is religious, right?
posted by Stewriffic to Religion & Philosophy (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There are a lot of odd vaguely Pentecostal, Adventist, and Evangelical congregations that aren't part of any wider denomination which have strange traditions like this. Could they be part of something like that?
posted by Sara C. at 2:29 PM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've never heard someone refer to another person as "Apostle" but I have heard the term "Mother" used frequently among in AME (African Methodist Episocopal) churchgoers. There are probably a lot of AME churches in the south.
posted by lovelygirl at 2:33 PM on September 28, 2012

This might be close.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:15 PM on September 28, 2012

Christian Scientists?
posted by easily confused at 3:23 PM on September 28, 2012

That sounds like any number of small African American churches here locally. And yes, we have quite a few AME churches in this part of the country.

I work for a florist and when these small churches send flowers a lot of times they sign the cards Apostle so and so and the congregation of such and such church.

I'm not sure but I believe these terms are part of African American church culture-a culture that is very very big on repect and on using terms of respect. For example, the pastor's wife will be called the first lady of the church.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:34 PM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Sounds like jokey faux-military/spy nicknames from college or somesuch to me, particularly with the sentence "Apostle, who you call Elizabeth." Apostle used like that as a proper noun rather than a title doesn't strike me as religious so much as Mission Impossible-esque.
posted by The World Famous at 3:36 PM on September 28, 2012

The Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus call each other "Sister", not "Apostle", just like every other Roman Catholic order of nuns, so it's not them.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:21 PM on September 28, 2012

My family is Pentecostal, my grandmother was both Mother and State Mother of the church. It's a hierarchal station like a cardinal or bishop. I can't remember anyone being called an Apostle.
posted by loriginedumonde at 9:18 PM on September 28, 2012

Small unaffiliated African-American churches in my old neighborhood used naming schemes like these.
posted by 1adam12 at 4:16 AM on September 29, 2012

Candomblé uses "mother", but I've never heard them use "apostle".
posted by Tom-B at 6:45 AM on September 30, 2012

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