Two Congregational Visits

During the semester, each of you will visit religious services at TWO different local congregations.  While there, you should use your sociological eye to see what is going on.

  • One of these groups should be relatively denominational (we’ll learn what this means early in the semester).
  • The other should be relatively sectarian (we’ll learn what this means, too).

Your reports are due as listed on the Schedule page of this website.

Neither one of these congregations should be of your own religious background. The point is to expand your horizons as well as your observational skills.  Ideally, choose something with which you are relatively unfamiliar.  Those who were not raised religious will have an easier time of this, but Redlands is home to nearly 60 religious groups; the surrounding communities host many more.  You will have plenty of choices, even within walking distance of the Redlands campus.  You can find a map of these congregations HERE.  (I welcome suggestions for updating it.)

Please obtain my approval of your chosen congregation before scheduling your visit.  I don’t want you all to visit the same five groups.  That would defeat the point of the exercise.  We need to work collectively to expand our horizons, not contract them.

You can find an Observation Guide at the website and another on our Guides and Resources page.  In addition, I can provide handouts and other materials on sociological observation.  To find out how to dress, behave, etc., look up your proposed group in How to be a Perfect Stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook (ed. by Matlins & Magida).  It’s available for library use only in the Armacost Library’s reference section.

Here’s how you’ll report on your two visits:

  1. For each congregation, write a short (4-page; 1000-word) summary of your visit, using at least 5 of the concepts presented in class and in your readings to illuminate what you saw. Do not use these comparisons mechanically.  Instead, use them as tools to help your readers understand the congregations better. Turn in these papers by noon of the day they are due, at the course Moodle site, in the appropriate drop box folder.
  2. Also prepare a concise, 3-minute summary of your observations to present orally to the class.  You may use up to 4 slides, unless you wish to use a modified Mini-PechaKucha format (details HERE), in which case you may use 8.  In either circumstance, turn in these slides at the course Moodle site at the same time that you turn in your paper.