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"A path-breaking study of the way in which churches adapt, or fail to adapt, to changes in their environment. This definitive study should be read both by people active in church work and by academics interested in religion in a changing American society." --Peter L. Berger, Boston University
"Those who want to understand how Americans really deal with the vast changes sweeping our country, those who care deeply about the future of churches, synagogues, and other local religious gatherings, and those who want to contribute to our society's increasingly complex efforts to build life-giving communities must come to terms with the discoveries of Nancy Ammerman and her research team . . . Bravo!" --James P. Wind, president, Alban Institute
"The first comprehensive examination of the relationship between rapid community change and local church life since the 1930s. This is the sociology of religion at its best, combined with refreshing reflection on the prospects and possibilities of local faith communities." --William McKinney, president, Pacific School of Religion
Change--in population, economy, and culture--is sweeping through American communities. Corner groceries are stocking new foods. New roads are being built and Main Streets abandoned. Schools have come and gone, and old friends move away as strangers arrive. But in every community, no matter how volatile, religious institutions provide for their members places of moral guidance and spiritual nurture, civic participation, and identity.
How do congregations react to significant communitiy change? Why do some religious institutions decline in the face of racial integration while other adapt and grow? How do congregations make sense of economic distress? Do they provide havens from community upheaval or are they vehicles for change? Congregations and Community is the most comprehensive study to date of congregations in the face of community transformation. Nancy Ammerman and her colleagues include stories of over twenty congregations in nine communities from across the nation, communities with new immigrant populations, growing groups of gays and lesbians, rapid suburbanization, and economic dislocations.
With almost half of the nation's population attending religious services each week, it is impossible to understand change in American society without a close look at congregations. Congregations and Community will exist as a standard resource for years to come, and clergy, academics, and general readers alike will benefit from its insights.
Nancy Tatom Ammerman is a professor of the sociology religion at Hartford Seminary. She is the author of several books, including Baptist Battles and Bible Believers (both available from Rutgers University Press). The reserch for this book was supported by a grant from the Lilly Endowment.
|List of Tables|
|1||Congregation and Community: Introductions||1|
|2||Persistence in the Face of Change||63|
|3||Relocating: New Places, New Identities||107|
|Leaving the Old Neighborhood||107|
|Establishing a Niche||130|
|4||Adaptation: Integrating Gay and Straight||161|
|5||Adaptation: Integrating across Cultures||198|
|6||Adaptation: Creating New Internal Structures||229|
|7||Innovation: Birth and Rebirth||261|
|8||How Congregations Change||310|
|9||Congregation and Community: Conclusions||346|
|App. A||Focus Questions||371|
|App. B||Congregational Survey||378|
|List of Contributors||423|