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The Shared Parish: Latinos, Anglos, and the Future of U.S. Catholicism — A Book Overview

As faith communities in the United States grow increasingly more diverse, many churches are turning to the shared parish, a single church facility shared by distinct cultural groups who retain their own worship and ministries. The fastest growing and most common of these are...
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Framing Congregations: Redemption through a Visitor’s Lens

NPR featured a story about a Washington Post reporter who simultaneously reported on drug crimes while being addicted to heroin while living in Washington D.C. in the 1980s and 1990s. From the article: In a new book, S Street Rising, Castaneda writes that S Street was once an...
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Faith on the Avenue: Book Overview

If you haven’t yet, pick up a copy of Katie Day’s Faith on the Avenue. It’s an interesting look at religion on one long street — Germantown Avenue — in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She looks at the role of community ecology on religious organizations...
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Using the Census: A Case Study – Oak Park, IL & Anderson, IN

An important part of any congregational study is understanding the history and ecology of the community. These changes can involve racial or cultural changes to the community, like the example from Oak Park Illinois. Other important changes can be the growth or decline of local...
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The Spirit’s Tether: Family, Work and Religion among American Catholics

My recent book The Spirit’s Tether: Family, Work and Religion among American Catholics, was the product of a comparative ethnographic project which began with the simple question:  Why are contemporary conflicts about the family—such as abortion, women’s social roles, same-sex...
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Technology as a Means for Communication

In what ways does your religious community use technology? Mark Chaves’ book, American Religion: Contemporary Trends (2011) outlines the growth in the use of technology in congregations from 1998 to 2006. In 1998, 17% of congregations had websites. By 2006, that number had...
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Lower Denominational Control: Effects of Changing Church Forms

Mark Chaves’ 2011 book, American Religion: Contemporary Trends, outlines a number of ways in which denominations have less and less control over individual congregations: 1 in 5 religious congregations in the United States are now unaffiliated (Chaves 2011). Moreover, 1 in...
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Building Strong Church Communities: A Sociological Perspective

At their deepest level, human beings are social creatures, in the image, Christians would say, of the Trinity itself.  But the individualistic bent of modern American society has led writers to focus more on the spiritual needs and growth of individuals than on the needs and...
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Whitebread Protestants – Social Food to Create Community

Chapter 2 of Whitebread Protestants: Food and Religion in American Culture by Daniel Sack focuses on food as a central mode of community organizing within America’s churches. He argues that “Americans go to church for more than teaching and prayer. They go looking for...
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The Power and Superiority of “Black Worship”

In Gerardo Marti’s book, Worship Across the Racial Divide, he discusses the life and vitality of a multiethnic congregation. One of his early findings is that many members of the congregation, particularly those who are not Black, assume that “black worship” is...
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