Journal Article

Shifting Boundaries within Second-Generation Korean American Churches<sup>*</sup>

Sharon Kim

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 71, issue 1, pages 98-122
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srq002
Shifting Boundaries within Second-Generation Korean American Churches*

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This study, based on 108 interviews and participant observation at 22 churches, examines the tension among newly formed second-generation Korean American churches in Los Angeles over its ethnic boundaries. Although all of the newly formed churches are open to non-Koreans, not all envision or desire a multiracial church. First, some pastors want their churches to remain predominately Korean American because they believe that the church is the main institution responsible for preserving the Korean culture and passing it down to subsequent generations. Others want to stretch their boundaries to include all Asian Americans. They argue that the similarities in life experiences and cultural orientation, largely derived by their shared status as children of immigrants and as racial minorities in the United States, among different Asian American groups serve as the common denominator. Finally, several pastors are determined to transform their churches into multiracial congregations. Documenting the current stage of experimentation and transition, this study of second-generation churches provides important insights on the role of religion and religious organizations in immigrant adaptation and identity formation.

Keywords: Korean American christianity; ethnicity; multiracial churches; Asian American churches; immigrant adaptation; second generation

Journal Article.  10606 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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