Accepted Paper:

Listening to the sermon in gay congregations  

Author:

Moshe Shokeid (Tel Aviv University)

Paper short abstract:

Based on the continuing attendance at services, the paper discusses the content and preaching style of sermons in four major gay and lesbian congregations in New York City. The paper also inquires into the congregants’ modes of interpretation, and their response to the agenda addressed by the clergy.

Paper long abstract:

For many years the study of culture and social relationships in churches, synagogues and mosques has remained a marginal field among anthropologists. Based on the continuing attendance at services, the paper discusses the content and preaching style of sermons in four major gay and lesbian congregations in New York—Dignity (Catholic), Unity (Afro-American), CBST (Jewish), and in particular, Metropolitan Community Church (Protestant).

Scripture is the typical starting point for sermons in all the congregations observed. Most, however, expand beyond that. But, the emphasis, and the mixture of religious, political, moral, and personal themes differ greatly between the four denominations and between individual preachers. The paper also inquires into the congregants' modes of interpretation, and their response to the agenda addressed by the clergy.

Listening to the sermons and observing the congregants' reaction shed light on the attraction that religious institutions continue to maintain among an urban population, many of whose members may have felt alienated from the religious experience of their upbringing.

Panel W119
Anthropologists from abroad study mainstream American culture (MAC workshop I)