Community engagement as a new and contested ritual: an ethnographic study of five pentecostal congregations in El Salvador

Bueno, Ronald Todd (2019) Community engagement as a new and contested ritual: an ethnographic study of five pentecostal congregations in El Salvador. PhD thesis, Middlesex University / Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. [Thesis]

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There is growing evidence that more Pentecostal congregations and adherents are participating in new ways to address poverty and justice worldwide. Pentecostals are starting their projects as well as partnering with international and local NGOs and FBOs to implement development programmes. The increased participation in social engagement has generated new discussions among scholars on whether the shift in practice reflects a change in beliefs within some Pentecostal congregations. It has also renewed older debates on whether Pentecostal beliefs, practices and organisational cultures can contribute to or hinder development interventions. This thesis provides an ethnographic study of five traditional Pentecostal congregations in El Salvador that partner with community leaders, local associations, and public and private entities to identify and implement community-wide development initiatives. For these congregations, the practice of engaging with their communities to address individual and structural issues through collective action is a new and contested church practice. The thesis examines why pastors and leaders choose to introduce the new practice and how they use available cultural strategies to ritualize community engagement into their congregations. By studying community engagement as a rhetorical, embodied, and creative ritual practice, the thesis argues that the new practice reinforces, challenges and transforms Pentecostal adherents’ sense of identity, sociality, and way-in-the-world. The in-depth ethnographic examination of how Pentecostal congregations participate in development initiatives contributes both to understanding the importance of ritualization for Pentecostals and to discussions about the role of Pentecostal congregations in development. The thesis suggests that the role of Pentecostal congregations in community development is contingent upon pastors’ authority to introduce and ritualize new development practices as well as their ability to create and sustain relationships of trust with non-church, community members to catalyse stable linking networks needed for a community to thrive.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > Oxford Centre for Mission Studies
Item ID: 29894
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 13 May 2020 09:47
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:49

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