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Exploring Religion

Session 11: Overview

Visiting Congregations

Learning objectives

  • Finalize plans for visiting congregations
  • Understand the process of visiting religious congregations as a researcher

Some helpful reminders:

1) The "Visiting Congregations Research Project" file will offer details on how to conduct your congregational visits, will provide the observation forms needed and will review the submission requirements. Please read that document thoroughly.

2) Guides for visiting Hindu temples, Buddhist temples, mosques, and synagogues also are located at the end of the Visiting Congregations document. These are optional for you to view, but we highly recommend you check those out.

3) Religious groups often meet on weekends, so be sure to plan your visit(s) accordingly so that you can visit two distinct groups and write your report in advance of the deadline. Mosques usually hold prayers on Fridays. Some Buddhist or Hindu temples are open throughout the week. Keep this in mind as you plan your schedule

4) If you have general questions about visiting congregations, feel free to ask. I'm happy to help or provide suggestions!

The only other tasks this week are small. First, you will read an article that is based on ethnography, which is a research method in which a researcher usually embeds his or herself into a community and observes the group from within. The article this week is written by a prominent sociologist and ethnographer of religion, Gerardo Marti, and will take you through the identity management of a former Muslim, now-Christian pastor in an evangelical church.

The second assignment this week is to watch an interview with another prominent sociologist and ethnographer of religion: Nancy Ammerman. Ammerman is an expert on religious congregations and best practices for visiting and studying them. We know you’ll find her insights helpful, informative and practical as you venture out to visit your own congregations this week!

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