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Caring Cultures

How Congregations Respond to the Sick

Susan J. Dunlap

Publication Year: 2009

Skilled pastoral caregiving, Susan Dunlap argues, requires an understanding of the culture of the local congregation where it is practiced. An engaging example par excellence, Caring Cultures looks closely at three very different congregations’ responses to the body in times of illness: an African American congregation in the Apostolic Holiness tradition; a Euro-American mainstream Protestant church; and the Latino members in a Roman Catholic parish.

With vivid examples drawn from the author’s interviews and observations, this beautifully written book shows how each congregation has developed divergent ways of thinking about the body, habits of responding to it, and understandings of God’s response to the body’s pain or peril. The author offers unusually rich descriptions of care-giving as it is displayed in these three congregations, integrating both well-explained theory and moving personal stories.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Table of Contents

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p. -

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pp. ix-x

Much gratitude is due the Louisville Institute for funding this research and writing project through a General Grant. I also want to thank the people who read parts of the manuscript and offered...

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Prologue: Setting the Stage

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pp. xi- xvii

They say Durham’s flourishing was sparked only a half mile from my house at the site of a major Civil War surrender. While the generals negotiated the surrender in the Bennett farm house, Confederate...

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pp. 1-16

The Latina woman pointed to a small porcelain statue of baby Jesus wearing the white clothes of a doctor. On his chest was a small patch that read “Niño Dr. Jesus.” She smiled and said, twice, “...

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1: Healing Waters Church

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pp. 17-46

Arriving for Sunday morning worship, I drove into the gravel parking lot next to Healing Waters Church, made of blond brick, sitting close to busy North Alston Avenue. It was a clean...

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2: Healing Waters' Belief Practices

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pp. 47-80

After finding Healing Waters, I was eager to talk about it. One of the people I turned to was a University of North Carolina scholar who has studied African American...

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3: First Downtown Church

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pp. 81-104

Upon first moving to Durham, our family was immediately drawn to First Downtown Church. There were telling markers that this was the local “liberal” outpost for the denomination...

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4: First Down Church's Belief Practices

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pp. 105-136

The ethnographer writing about her own community faces significant challenges. It is very difficult to develop the naivet

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5: Our Lady of Durham

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pp. 137-160

As I stood in the cold December air at 5 a.m., multiple layers of history and culture were displayed before me. It was the third hour of the annual fiesta in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which...

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6: Our Lady of Durham's Belief-Practices

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pp. 161-184

There were two factors that made the investigation into the ministry at Our Lady of Durham’s Latino population different from the research into the other two congregations. Most significant was...

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Conclusion: A Practical Theology of Care for the Sick

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pp. 185-220

John Swinton’s helpful book on the uses of qualitative research in practical theology begins his practical theological inquiries with a description of the...


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pp. 221-224


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pp. 225-236


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pp. 237-241

E-ISBN-13: 9781602585171
E-ISBN-10: 1602585172
Print-ISBN-13: 9781932792874
Print-ISBN-10: 1932792872

Page Count: 260
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: 1

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Church work with the sick -- North Carolina -- Durham.
  • Religious gatherings -- Christianity.
  • Care of the sick -- North Carolina.
  • Care of the sick -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
  • Church work with the sick -- North Carolina.
  • Care of the sick -- North Carolina -- Durham.
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