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A View of Your Neighborhood: A Walking Tour

One of the best ways to get a feel for the community around your congregation is to walk the streets. Now that it’s getting warmer, I took a walk around my neighborhood in Somerville MA, and here’s some of the things I found: There are shopping areas —
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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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Making a Megachurch: Hebron Baptist Church

Below is an extended quote from A Particular Place: Urban Restructuring and Religious Ecology in a Southern Exurb. The book outlines how two particular congregations grew in an area outside Atlanta. Notice how the author, Dr. Nancy Eiesland, describes the changes in the local...
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The Particular Roles of Interim Pastors

The Billings Gazette featured an article discussing interim pastors and the particular roles they play. The article begins: Billings pastors Tom Hall, Joel Westby and Aline Russell enjoy getting together once a month to chat. None of the three recent acquaintances will be in town...
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Engaged Scholar Ria Van Ryn: Interfaith Experiences, Individual Growth

The blog post below is written by current Congregational Studies’ Team Engaged Scholar Ria Van Ryn for her college newspaper. ——————————— In a recent article in the Observer Rachel Renz defends her decisions...
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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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Space Tour: Queen of Heaven Parish

Pilar spoke to us in a rapid clip as she gave us a parish campus tour at Queen of Heaven parish in Southern California (all names here are pseudonyms).  As graduate assistant Liz Castro and I walked with her alongside the parish school, we learned that her children had attended...
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Mission Orientation: Case Study

The Minneapolis Star Tribune posted an article about the 50th anniversary of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church moving to a new church building. Using this article as a case study of the Mission Orientation post from Wednesday, we can uncover much about this church’s...
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Toys are not Guns: Changing the Way our Children Play

In February 2013, our congregation had a month long celebration of Black History Month activities.  From film viewings to forums, the Washington Tabernacle Baptist Church of St. Louis, MO, had an array of opportunities to learn about historical and current issues that are...
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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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