Abstract: This article describes how, amidst Christian schism in the Philippines, the corporate form emerges as a central facet through which religious communities come to be understood. Centered on the legal fallout of a schism in the United Methodist Church in the Philippines that began in 2011, the article discusses how the schism foregrounded the necessary legal identities of religious groups in the Philippines as corporations. Having inherited the corporate model of religious organization from the United States’ colonial administration in the early 20th century, the legal configuration of the religious corporation is often at odds with how Christian actors themselves understand the divinely informed nature of the congregation. While such legal processes are undertaken to resolve matters of property ownership and church finances, they also reveal how legal bureaucratic regimes are involved in conceptualizing, abstracting, and circulating particular communal forms of subjectivity.
Publisher’s Description: In a richly illustrated, revelatory study of Philadelphia’s Germantown Avenue, home to a diverse array of more than 90 Christian and Muslim congregations, Katie Day explores the formative and multifaceted role of religious congregations within an urban environment. Germantown Avenue cuts through Philadelphia for eight and a half miles, from the affluent neighborhood of Chestnut Hill through the high crime section known as “the Badlands.” The congregations along this route range from the wealthiest to the poorest populations in Philadelphia. Some congregants are immigrants who find safety and support in close fellowship, while others are long-time residents whose congregations work actively to provide social services. Cities undergo constant change, and their congregations change with them. As Day observes, some congregations have sprung up in former commercial strips, harboring new arrivals and recreating a sense of home, and others form an anchor for a neighborhood across generations, providing a connection to the past and a hope of stability for the future. Drawing on years of research, in-depth interviews with religious leaders and congregants, and a wealth of demographic data, Day demonstrates the powerful influence cities exert on their congregations, and the surprising and important impact congregations have on their urban environment.
Abstract: This article examines the relationship between Christian worship and the production of religious identity among Auhelawa speakers of Normanby Island, Papua New Guinea. Auhelawa people live in a society in which a locally developed form of Christianity has emerged from a long engagement with missionaries. In the colonial era, missionaries spoke in terms of light and darkness to mediate their contradictory aims of both authentic personal conversion and total social change. Today Auhelawa believe that their society has been changed, and that this change entails a new way of thinking as well as acting, though like the missionaries they also struggle to express the relationship between the two. Viewing themselves as already converted, Auhelawa today use an ideology of ‘one mind’—unity in purpose which is subjectively felt and outwardly expressed—to resolve how their collective worship relates to individual belief. This framing of ritual, embedded in church prayer and music, however, is always incomplete. I argue this not only points to an important step in the process of formation of congregations, but also suggests why Christianity globally is both unitary yet also so strikingly diverse.
Publisher’s Description: Ecologies of Faith in New York City examines patterns of interreligious cooperation and conflict in New York City. It explores how representative congregations in this religiously diverse city interact with their surroundings by competing for members, seeking out niches, or cooperating via coalitions and neighborhood organizations. Based on in-depth research in New York’s ethnically mixed and rapidly changing neighborhoods, the essays in the volume describe how religious institutions shape and are shaped by their environments, what new roles they have assumed, and how they relate to other religious groups in the community.
Chapters of Interest:
Filling Niches and Pews in Williamsburg and Greenpoint: The Religious Ecology of Gentrification Richard Cimino
Korean American Churches and the Negotiation of Space in Flushing, Queens Keun-Joo Christine Pae
Diversity and Competition: Politics and Conflict in New Immigrant Communities Weishan Huang
The Brazilianization of New York City: Brazilian Immigrants and Evangelical Churches in a Pluralized Urban Landscape Donizete Rodrigues
Building and Expanding Communities: African Immigrant Congregations and the Challenge of Diversity Moses Biney
Changing Lives One Scoop at a Time: The Creation of Alphabet Scoop on the Lower East Side Sheila P. Johnson
Navigating Property Development through a Framework of Religious Ecology: The Case of Trinity Lutheran Church Nadia A. Mian
Abstract: The organizational niche, a fruitful concept from the organizational ecology literature, frames this study on the diverse orthodoxy of congregations within the same denomination. Congregations diversify along a conservative-to-liberal continuum, which lessens niche overlap with nearby congregations in their denomination. Pastors and priests in United Methodist and Episcopal congregations in three U.S. regions were able to locate their congregations (and other congregations in their denomination in close proximity) along this conservative-to-liberal continuum, an indication that orthodoxy distinctions were important to congregational identity. In comparison, Assemblies of God congregations showed little intradenominational diversity in orthodoxy, since sectarian boundaries narrow their niche. Theoretical and methodological implications of this intradenominational diversity are explored.