The Impact of Religion on Social Change Seen in Congregation Visits

I found a strong correlation between the matters discussed in chapter 7 of McGuire and Monday’s presentations on congregation visits. Most people in class seemed to have positive experiences at their congregation, and pointed out several key themes. Congregations are indeed getting smaller and older, as our texts have pointed out. As a consequence, congregation leaders are generally excited when new-comers visit, and are eager to attempt to retain their attendance. Most people also pointed out a strong consistency in the demographic of their congregation, meaning that the ethnicity, education status, and economic class was seemingly similar between most members of the congregation.

McGuire’s chapter on the impact of religion on social change is reflective of many of these key themes pointed out in Monday’s presentations. McGuire notes that religion is inherently conservative, and thus often supports the status quo. At the same time, powerful leadership in a congregation can also act as a revolutionary force to promote change within a society. It seemed that some congregations strongly strived to promote social change, where as others fought to preserve tradition. More specifically, the United Church of Christ promoted liberal values and a step in a new political direction. People were encouraged to share their worries and their joys to in order to make the world a better place. On the other hand, some congregations were described as more formal, with a strong emphasis on ritual and tradition, rather than progressive discussion. Whether aiming to enforce the status quo or strive for revolutionary change, it seemed that most congregations happily opened their service to our class.