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Affinity, Identity, and Transcendence: The Experience of Religious Racial Integration in Diverse Congregations

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Abstract:

How do members of disparate ethnic and racial heritages come to identify and achieve stable affiliation with multiracial congregations? This article specifies an approach to understanding member experiences of corporate belonging in diverse congregations using ethnic identity theory. Synthesizing ethnographic data drawn from two extensive case studies, the article provides a heuristic model for understanding the process by which members of disparate ethnic and racial heritages come to identify and achieve stable affiliation with multiethnic/multiracial congregations. Three “moments” (affinity with the congregation, identity reorientation, and ethnic transcendence) represent key phases in the lived religious experience of members as they co-construct common bonds of spiritual kinship. Cautions and suggestions are provided for future research.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2009.01429.x

Affiliations: Department of Sociology Davidson College

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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