Building the Commons:Church, Community, and Racial Reconcliation Etnographic Investigations into a Multiracial Congregation Open Access

Lacy, Megan A. (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/dj52w534n?locale=en
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Abstract

This paper is an ethnographic investigation into a multiracial congregation, Parkside Baptist Church, written in three parts. Part One surveys the current state of research in ethnogrpahic and congregational studies, arguing that ethnography is not simply a tool to study and describe congregations, but a way to understand the theology embodied within a local congregation, and how this theology might contribute significantly to academic theologogizing. Part Two offers a case study, or "thick description" of the congregation of Parkside, inluding the church itself as well as its surrounding neighborhood community. Part Three attempts to understand what theology is present within the congregaiton of Parkside, arguing that the blurry boundaries between the congregaiton of Parkside and its surrounding community offer new questions for ecclesiological thinking in the twnty-first century, and suggests that blurry boundaries and community engagement are central to patterns of racial reconciliation that occur within the church community.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION: HOW I CAME TO [STUDY] PARKSIDE...1

PART I: METHODS & MEANING...7

Placing Myself in the Field(s)...7

Getting at What's Happening Here: Research Methods...9
What Counts as Theological?...11

Ethnography & Christian Ethics...16

A Word on Humility & Reflexivity...20

PART II: A THICK DESCRIPTION OF PARKSIDE...23

The Complexity of City Park...23

Parkside Church...32

Leadership: Parkside's Staff...34
Congregation: Parkside's Members...36
Activities: Parkside's Programs...37

PART III: MOVING BEYOND DESCRIPTION...41

Inherited Questions...44

The Case of Parkside Finding God in the Blurry Boundaries...49

Blurred Boundary #1: External Boundaries...50

Blurred Boundary #2: Internal Boundaries...54

New Questions for Ecclesiology...57

Reconsidering Stolen Tires...60

Racial Justice and Models of Reconciliation...62

Testemonials of Transformation...65

Church as Family?: Questions to Conclude the Conversation...67

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