Advertisement

Religious Congregations as Community Hubs and Sources of Social Bonding

  • Ram A. CnaanEmail author
  • H. Daniel Heist
Chapter
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)

Abstract

This chapter views congregations as community organizations that enhance face-to-face supportive relationships for the people that belong to them. Using Tönnies’ continuum, we claim that in the United States congregations increase the Gemeinschaft form of social connectedness. As formal associations in the local ecology, congregations provide member support and benefits that exceed most other community organizations. We will demonstrate that congregations are common in all American communities, and that they serve as a major source of mutual support and bonding social capital for their members in addition to caring for outsiders.

keywords Congregations Community building Gemeinschaft Social capital Religious community 

References

  1. Ammerman, N. T. (2001). Doing good in American communities: Congregations and service organizations working together. Hartford, CT: Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary.Google Scholar
  2. Beyerlein, K., & Hipp, J. R. (2006). From pews to participation: The effect of congregation activity and context on bridging civic engagement. Social Problems, 53(1), 97–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Billingsley, A. (1999). Mighty like a river: The Black church and social reform. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Blieszner, R., & Adams, R. G. (1992). Adult friendship. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Bond, N. (2013). Understanding Ferdinand Tönnies’ “Community and Society:” Social theory and political philosophy between enlightened liberal individualism and transfigured community. Berlin: LIT Varlag.Google Scholar
  6. Chaves, M., & Eagle, A. J. (2016). Congregations and social services: An update from the third wave of the National Congregations Study. Religions, 7(55).  https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7050055.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cnaan, R. A. (2006). The other Philadelphia story: How local congregations support quality of life in urban America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cnaan, R. A., & Boddie, S. C. (2001). Philadelphia census of congregations and their involvement in social service delivery. Social Service Review, 75, 559–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cnaan, R. A., & Rothman, J. (2008). Capacity development and the building of community. In J. Rothman, J. L. Erlich, & J. E. Tropman (Eds.), Strategies of community intervention (7th ed., pp. 243–262). Itasca, IL: Peacock.Google Scholar
  10. DiPietro, M., & Behr, G. (2002). Social services in faith-based organizations: Pittsburgh congregations and the services they provide. Pittsburgh: The William J. Copeland fund.Google Scholar
  11. Durkheim, E. (1965). The elementary forms of religious life (J. W. Swain, Trans.). New York: Free Press. (Original work published 1915).Google Scholar
  12. Ellison, C. G., Krause, N. M., Shepherd, B. C., & Chaves, M. A. (2009). Size, conflict, and opportunities for interaction: Congregational effects on members’ anticipated support and negative interaction. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 48 (1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Graham, J., & Haidt, J. (2010). Beyond beliefs: Religions bind individuals into moral communities. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14(1), 140–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Granovetter, M. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), 1360–1380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grettenberger, S., & Hovmand, P. (1997, December). The role of churches in human services: United Methodist churches in Michigan. Paper presented at the 26th annual meeting of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action, Indianapolis, IN.Google Scholar
  16. Hernandez, E. I., Carlson, N., Modeiros-Ward, N., Stek, A., & Verspoor, L. (2008). Gatherings of hope: How religious congregations contribute to the quality of life in Kent County. Grand Rapids, MI: Calvin College, Center for Social Research.Google Scholar
  17. Hill, R. B. (1998). Report on study of church-based human services. Baltimore: Associated Black Charities.Google Scholar
  18. Hodgkinson, V. A., & Weitzman, M. S., with Kirsch, A. D., Noga, S. M., & Gorski, H. A. (1993). From belief to commitment: The community service activities and finances of religious congregations in the United States, 1993 Edition. Washington, DC: Independent Sector.Google Scholar
  19. Holifield, E. B. (1994). Toward a history of American congregations. In J. P. Wind & J. W. Lewis (Eds.), American Congregations: Volume 2–New perspectives in the study of congregations (pp. 23–53). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  20. Iannaccone, L. R. (1994). Why strict churches are strong. American Journal of Sociology, 99, 1180–1211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jackson, M. C., Jr., Schweitzer, J. H., Blake, R. N., Jr., & Cato, M. T. (1997). Faith based institutions: Community and economic development programs serving black communities in Michigan. Kalamazoo, MI: Michigan State University.Google Scholar
  22. Johnstone, R. L. (2007). Religion in society: A sociology of religion (8th ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Kane, M. D. (2013). LGBT religious activism: Predicting state variations in the number of Metropolitan Community churches, 1974–2000. Sociological Forum, 28, 135–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Krause, N., & Hayward, R. D. (2012). Church-based social support and a sense of belonging in a congregation among older Mexican-Americans. Review of Religious Research, 55(2), 251–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lim, C., & Putnam, R. D. (2010). Religion, social networks, and life satisfaction. American Sociological Review, 75(6), 914–933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Martinez, B. C., & Dougherty, K. D. (2013). Race, belonging, and participation in religious congregations. Journal for Scientific Study of Religion, 52(4), 713–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Merino, S. M. (2014). Social support and the religious dimensions of close ties. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 53(3), 595–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. National Center for Education Statistics (2016). Education institutions. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=84.
  29. Oh, H. K. (1989) Study of Korean immigrants: A process of socio-cultural adaptation and economic performance in Philadelphia area. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  30. Olson, D., & Perl, P. (2005). Free and cheap riding in strict conservative churches. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 44, 123–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Orr, J. B. (1998). Los Angeles religion: A civic religion. Los Angeles: University of Southern California, Center for religion and Civic Culture.Google Scholar
  32. Payton, R. L., & Moody, M. P. (2008). Understanding philanthropy. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Phillips, B. A. (2011). Making the case for social network questions in Jewish population surveys. Contemporary Jewry, 31, 79–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Printz, T. J. (1998). Faith-based service providers in the nation’s capital: Can they do more? Policy Brief No. 2 in Charting Civil Society, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.Google Scholar
  35. Putnam, R. D. (1995). Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. Journal of Democracy, 6(1), 65–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Putnam, R. D., & Campbell, D. (2010). American grace: How religion divides and unites us. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  38. Schafer, M. H. (2013). Close ties, intercessory prayer, and optimism among american adults: Locating God in the social support network. Joural for the Scientific Study of Religion, 52(1), 35–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schwadel, P. (2012). Race, class, congregational embeddedness, and civic and political participation. In L. A. Keister, J. Mccarthy, & R. Finke (Eds.), Religion, work and inequality (pp. 253–279). Bingley, UK: Emerald.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Shore-Goss, R. E., Bohache, T., Cheng, P. S., & West, M. (2013). Queering Christianity: Finding a place. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.Google Scholar
  41. Silverman, C. (2000). Faith-based communities and welfare reform: California religious community capacity study. San Francisco: Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management, University of San Francisco.Google Scholar
  42. Sinha, J. W., Greenspan, I., & Handy, F. (2011). Volunteering and civic participation among immigrant members of ethnic congregations: Complementary not competitive. Journal of Civil Society, 7(1), 23–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Smidt, C. (2003). Religion as social capital: Producing the common good. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Statista (2016). Number of establishments in the bars, taverns and nightclubs industry in the United States from 2003 to 2017. Retrieved from http://www.statista.com/statistics/281713/us-bars-taverns-und-nightclubs-industry-establishments/.
  45. Tönnies, F. (1955). Community and association. London: Routeledge & Kegan Paul. (Original work published 1889).Google Scholar
  46. Uslander, E. M. (2002). Religion and civic engagement in Canada and the United States. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41, 239–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Whitehead, A. R. (2010). Financial commitment within federations of small groups: The effect of cell-based congregational structure on individual giving. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 49(4), 640–656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wilder, T. (1939). Our Town; a play in three acts. New York: Coward-McCann Inc.Google Scholar
  49. Woolever, C., & Bruce, D. (2008). Places of promise: Finding strength in your congregation’s location. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press.Google Scholar
  50. Wuthnow, R. (1988). The restructuring of American religion: society and faith since World War II. Princeton, N. J: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations