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Multiracial Congregations: An Analysis of Their Development and a Typology

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Although the overwhelming majority of religious congregations consist of members who share the same racial background, there are a significant number of multiracial congregations in the United States. We begin with an analysis of why most congregations remain uniracial despite racial integration in other institutions. Then, based on our two-year national study, we examine the key variables underlying the development of multiracial congregations. Specifically, we consider the primary impetus for change and the source of racial diversification. Based on the analysis of how some congregations have become multiracial, we present a typology of multiracial congregations. We find seven main types. It is our hope that the typology and analysis will illuminate the effects of racial diversity on the life cycle of congregations and serve as a useful framework to guide future studies of multiracial congregations. Ultimately, we intend this article to facilitate the development of formal theory and research on the genesis and sustainability of multiracial congregations. To that end, we conclude the article by offering hypotheses suggested by the typology and its underlying causes.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Rice University, Houston 2: University of Houston

Publication date: June 1, 2003


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