Building upon the empirical foundation provided by the historical studies in the first volume of this project, this book brings together historians, sociologists, theologians and ethicists for an interdisciplinary conversation on the study of American congregations. The essays in this volume address three general questions: where is the congregation located on the broader map of American culture and religious life?; what defines congregations - what are their distinctive qualities, practices, tasks and roles in American culture?; and what patterns of leadership and organization characterize congregations in America? The contributors argue that the congregation is crucial to our understanding of religion in America and that congregational studies deserve a central place in research and teaching on American religion.
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 1987-1990.