chapter  2
12 Pages

A life in religious communities

ByNancy T. Ammerman

I have been an observer of religious communities for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t just that I went to church a lot when I was growing up. What made the difference was the particular vantage point from which I experienced the worship services and Sunday school classes and church meetings. As the daughter of the pastor, I was peculiarly both an insider and an outsider, someone with the intimate access of dinner-table conversations, but someone who would be gone again in a few years. During my growing up, my father took on a new pastoral challenge roughly every three years, so I became adept at reading the culture of each new congregation. It certainly never occurred to me at the time that I was learning to be a sociologist, but the skills and perspectives of those childhood experiences stayed with me.