Journal Article

Spreading the Word: Religious Beliefs and the Evolution of Immigrant Congregations

W. David Stevens

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 65, issue 2, pages 121-138
Published in print January 2004 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2004 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712402
Spreading the Word: Religious Beliefs and the Evolution of Immigrant Congregations

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Current models of change in immigrant churches posit that ethnic congregations become more acculturated in response to inter-generational conflicts. As second- and third-generation church members attempt to meet their own unique social needs, ethnic churches are forced to revise their goals and structures in order to ensure the survival of their organization. Recent studies, however, cast doubt on whether generational changes are the only catalyst of evolution in ethnic churches. This paper develops an alternative explanation by arguing that religious culture can also exert pressure for change. It does so by showing how a strong emphasis on inter-ethnic evangelism lead to the adoption of English-language services in a Ghanaian Pentecostal church in Chicago.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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