Volume One of this two-volume study chronicles the founding, growth and development of 12 congregations that represent the diverse reality of local religious cultures in America. Some, like Center Church in New Haven, Connecticut, trace their stories back to colonial times. Others, like the Swaminarayan Hindu temple in suburban Chicago, are recent attempts to create local religious worlds. Ranging from congregations of Lebanese Muslims in Northern Canada to Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, the essays convey the distinctive character of each congregation and provide evidence of the importance of congregations in daily life. The essays use the particular experience of local religious communities to explore a wide range of issues from the fate of mainline American Protestantism to the rise of charismatic revivalism. In addition to discussing the larger themes of American religious life, the essays portray a variety of notable men and women.
James P. Wind is president of the Alban Institute. James W. Lewis is executive director of the Louisville Institute. Together they directed the Congregational History Project, which was based at the University of Chicago's Divinity School from 1987 to 1990.