Rick Moore is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Chicago.
TITLE: “Formal Cooperation Among Urban Congregations: The Council of Hyde Park Churches 1911-1933″
The existence of religious coalitions calls into question some of the assumptions underlying how we study congregations, especially the common analytical focus on single independent congregations as the appropriate unit of analysis. Religious coalitions, i.e. formal organizations comprised of religious organizations from diverse religious traditions, have been a feature of the American religious landscape throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries yet remain virtually ignored by sociologists. A case study of a Protestant religious coalition in Chicago from 1911-1933 illustrates the impact of coalitions and their behavior. This coalition worked to coordinate congregations’ activities on both a practical and symbolic level, served as an information clearing house and undertook multiple projects aimed at improving the group’s urban environment. The effect of the coalition on members’ activities complicates sociology’s existing models of urban religious organization and suggests that researchers should be more attuned to the coordinated behavior of diverse religious groups.