Sample Sociology Research Paper on Religion

Religion

Introduction

Religious practices define the culture of the denomination and have been passed down from generations to generations. The Catholic community, Jewish community and the non-denominational Christians are ideal examples. They have upheld practices like the way/style of worship from their foundational era. These practices determine the identity of the denomination and the level of trust accorded to them by the congregation. A high level of trust would translate to high reliability, more congregation size and the firm belief in the message conveyed by the denomination. These practices are uniform among the different denominations.

The style of worship by the congregation depicts the principles set by the institution. It determines the measure or stereotype of the institution. A church can be a relaxed one or the aggressive type. This can be depicted in the type and order of the songs used during the service. The worship style stereotype set by the church will affect its credibility by the surrounding communities and the general public. It would also determine the members’ anticipation for the next service and attraction to the church’s activities. It plays a part in maintaining the congregation’s loyalty to the church. An analysis of the worship style will unearth more potential effects of the same on the congregation, the relationship between the church and the surrounding communities and the congregation’s perspective and trust of the same church (including its leadership and other church activities). The style of worship includes the traditional oral presentations like choirs and the instrumentals and the modern forms that include recordings, sound-track systems and the presentations by different church groups, for example, plays.

Church and Service Description

  1. Holy Name Cathedral

Considering the first congregation, Holy Name Cathedral, it is located in downtown Chicago surrounded by a residential population. The church design include the artistic carvings and paintings that depict the cross and Christian themes like Jesus. The windows had cool-colors’ drapery and were large and curvy at the top. The floors had smooth stone tiles with the auditorium set at a higher level than the congregation sitting area. The church building exhibits a modern design and artistry, from the drapery, entrance and exits design to the crucifix placed in the auditorium, to the building design and architecture.

The Catholic Church services begin at 7.00 am on Sundays; there are three masses scheduled each at least 1 hr. The church facilities comprised a school, parking bay and some offices. With the current technological trends, the church sessions have also been modernized with sound systems, public address systems, display systems like the projectors and the instruments (the electric guitars, piano and latest drum systems). Three-quarters of the church members attend the worship sessions on any given weekend. The church encourages new memberships and conducts pastoral visits to households (by the clergy and evangelism team).

About 200 parishioners attended the first mass on that Sunday with 70% mostly native Americans of that state and the others visitors (from other states/countries). About 8% arrived late for the mass. Major sections of the parishioners were casually dressed with the other section in official suits/dresses. The dresses did not have to below the knees as it influenced by the person’s preference. The worship leader, father, wore long white robes. The congregation was interactive before and after the church sessions. The session was orderly-structured and took about one and a half hours with the sermon around 40 minutes and the topic revolved around addiction and their impact on the faith. The church session involved music (the choir, and songs from the golden bells) and several citations (the prayer of St. Chrysostom, Apostles Creed). The songs were projected on a display for the congregation. The music was relaxed with little aggressive dance flairs. Church offerings (general contributions, tithes and donations) were collected during the sessions. Distinct session was organized for the children. During church sessions, the bible was the main reference text. The prayer sessions were ceremonial and involved many recitations. There was a somber and inspirational mood during the service

  1. Amor Viviente (Non-denominational Christians)

The Amor Viviente is located in Donna 126 W. Expressway 83 in a commercial area. The congregation first assembled in 1960 though the church was later built in 1990. It has a wide open worship area, donned with cushion chairs and an upfront alter with an extruded floor for the musical instruments. The services are scheduled on Wednesday and Sunday at 7.00 pm and 9.00 am respectively. The service last about 15 minutes. The church facilities comprise of the daycare, offices, kitchen, classroom and a separate sporting event room. They are located in a two-storey building donned with multiple windows and a large parking lot. The windows exhibit a curvy design, synonymous with old architecture. The church has embraced technology and is changing with the changing times. It has the latest musical instruments, projectors, speakers and screens. The church encourages punctuality for attendance of the services. It service punctuality with 25% of the 70 people attending the service late. The congregation consisted mainly of women and a major percentage of the congregation being of Mexican-American descent. Spanish is the preferred language, both the songs and the service at large. Much entertaining songs (Spanish songs) were also preferred by the same church. The worship sessions were electric as most people held out their hands and cried during prayer sessions, they even talked to each other and moved seats to talk to another member. The music was upbeat though the prayer sessions were very emotional.

For men, official outfit was preferred and women wore dresses though they were not modest. The church leaders also wore formal clothing, especially the suit and tie. They congregation was very sociable and even recognized I am a visitor and referred me to the church leader who noted my contacts. The service preaching was about practicing what we preach, and it lasted around 30 minutes. Offerings were not collected in this congregation. Children were integrated in the main service the Bible was the reference text in the service.

  1. Temple Emmanuel (Jewish Congregation)

The church was founded and built in 1948. It is located in a prime residential neighborhood. It is furnished with wooden ceilings and auditorium sitting. It had stunning artwork like the bronze burning bush (a representative of the Moses and the burning bush). The church facilities include the dining hall, an office, a school and a gymnasium. The building design is very more modernized though there are old architectural principles exhibited, like the windows’ curves and designs. The modern design does not depict clearly a religious center, but the inclusion of artistic representations like the Star of David. Technology integration includes use of stereo equipment to play music.

The congregation is composed mainly of East European and Latin Jews. They are dressed modestly, with women dresses down to their knee though men wore casual outfit. Their service lasted 2 hours and was led by a rabbi who also donned a casually. The congregation size was small (about 35 people) and high punctuality was recorded, about 10% arrived late though. The congregation was social as all people talked and introduced each other to the guest. Even the rabbi interacted casually with the congregation. The Hebrew songs were much preferred and were played at the end of the service. The music was much upbeat and inspiring. The Rabbi’s speech was the major concern during the service. Special celebrations like Sakot were held during the service. The main topic for that Sunday was the importance of Sakot and the relation between certain harvests with the human body. The children had no separate service for children and neither were offerings collected. The prayer structure and sessions were formal though the service was very casual considering its structure. The main reference text was the Torah.

 

Evidence Review

The style of worship in the Holy Name Cathedral was much relaxed, formal and laid-back, unlike that of the Jewish congregation that seemed casual. The choice of songs by these congregation also enhances this theme as the songs involved a collection from the Golden Bells, Hebrew songs and the modern songs. The tone and audio levels of the instrumentals (the piano, drums and the guitar) were submissive and more of complementary to the choir cum congregation’s presentations in the Catholic congregation. The worship sessions were short but spread out across the period of the church service. The first sessions for Catholic community were a bit longer and interactive compared to the sessions in the other congregation. Considering the Catholic congregation’s tone, audio levels and the quality of the sessions, the inspirational effect was higher as compared to an entertainment-based session. The inspirational effect was gauged on the congregation’s reaction before and after the service. The congregation was more interactive and the level of positivity in their conversations was much higher when the service ended than the beginning of the service.

Interactions with the congregation and the clergy before, during and after the service revealed the commitment levels to the religious denomination and faith in general. The older generation had affirmed staying diehard Catholics due to the level of order, inspiration and formality portrayed by the style of worship. This increased the level of trust in the church and the message conveyed. By comparing their past denominations’ worship style with that of Holy Name Cathedral, the converts affirmed their faith and propagated the cultures. The level of order and inspiration in the style of worship was unlike their previous denominations. Many likened their past experiences in previous denominations as one based on convenience and just an entity in the church’s bulletin (order of service). In addition, the integration of technological systems and innovations in the Catholic style of worship enhanced the effects of this style on the congregation as it improve their level of interest in both the church and the faith. Long-term membership and the annual number of converts in the Holy Name Cathedral depict the effect and the essence of style of worship on the congregation’s commitment to the church and faith.

Conclusion

The style of worship in these congregations has had a profound effect on the size of the congregation since time immemorial. The weekly service attendance confirms the congregation’s anticipation for the church sessions/service. Therefore, the style of worship impacts significantly on various aspects in the congregation and the church as a whole. It determines the trust levels depending on the picture portrayed by the church’s style, commitment, and the public rating on the religious sphere (should not be considered much from religious perspective). Therefore, the style of worship should be considered in various religious settings.