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Downtown Metropolitan Churches: Ecological Situation and Response

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Based on three principles from theories of human ecology, this study examines the response of downtown churches in metropolitan Columbus, Ohio to a changing environment. Over 150 years, churches grew in number, stabilized, contracted sharply, and restabilized, changing increasingly from neighborhood to niche churches. Better-funded larger and older churches survived by developing heterogeneous religious and other ties with diverse weekday populations of downtown residents, employees, shoppers, and transients. Churches closer to the city center had more opportunities to develop these relationships. Sociological factors such as theology, leadership, and external resources from the metropolis, state, and nation also played a role. The interaction of sociological and ecological frameworks on both macro and micro levels explains the response of religious organizations to specific urban environments.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: William Form is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at The Ohio State University, 300 Bricker Hall, 190 North Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210., Email: 2: Joshua Dubrow is a graduate student in sociology at The Ohio State University., Email:

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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