While congregational studies have expanded our understanding of American religion, little is known about the local practices of a single denomination at its smallest jurisdiction. This book explores how national denominational commitments are affecting the practices of local United Church of Christ congregations inside a single association in the Shenandoah Valley. Nationally, the UCC defines itself as a united and uniting church in its ecumenical work; as multiracial and multicultural in its diversity; as accessible to all in welcoming those with disabilities; as open and affirming for its LGBT members; and as a just peace church in its support of social justice. So, how fully have local congregations embraced these commitments? Might congregations be more attached to their older identities, particularly in areas where the church's predecessors were strongly rooted? Or are the national church's commitments being lived out at the grassroots level? The book measures congregational life in one of the UCC's oldest and smallest associations. Books on congregational studies either focus on a case study of a particular congregation, or large-scale surveys of U.S. congregations that explore aggregate data to explain their work. This book looks instead at a group of local congregations inside a small judicatory (the Shenandoah Association) of the United Church of Christ to explain religious life at the grassroots level.
H. B. Cavalcanti has researched comprehensively, analyzed carefully, and identified broad trends. This book is a detailed analysis of the UCC and a fascinating investigation of contemporary Protestant fellowship in the Shenandoah Valley. The United Church of Christ in the Shenandoah Valley should be of interest to those concerned not just about the Shenandoah but contemporary American Protestantism in general. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.... Big ideas emerge from this narrowly defined topic. -- Steve Longenecker, Bridgewater College This book starts with a simple question - to what extent does the commitments of a liberal denomination find expression in local congregational life?. . . . In the Shenandoah United Church of Christ Association there are deep differences, yet common traits do exist - an evangelical Christocentric theology, confessional worship, fierce independence, practical attitudes, and a caring spirit. This book is well written, realistic and informative, examining how the life of a liberal denomination is fleshed out at the grassroots. -- Barbara Brown Zikmund, Hartford Seminary This book nicely fills a gap between studies of specific congregations and national trends; it includes many interesting details....[Cavalcanti] adds a very useful case study to scholarly discussions of mainline Protestantism. * Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture *