Co-Sponsored by the University of Chicago and Trinity Christian College
Saturday, October 1, 2005, 11:00-3:00pm
The Newberry Library
Religion in Rural America
Formed by Faith: the Dutch Immigrant Community in the Southern San Joaquin Valley: 1890-1930
David Zwart, Western Michigan University
This paper illuminates the importance of religion for Dutch Calvinists in the rural San Joaquin Valley in California in creating a community and ethnic identity. In 1890, Dutch immigrants began arriving in the Southern San Joaquin Valley to form farming colonies, but within a decade these colonies collapsed. Nevertheless, agricultural jobs in the San Joaquin Valley would attract a number of Dutch immigrants after 1900. The founding of the Hanford Christian Reformed Church in 1908 enabled the community to consolidate the Ducth immigrants and connect with the broader Dutch-American community. The chuch maintained a separate identity in the heterogenous population of the San Joaquin Valley.
Associating Churches: The Practice of Christian Fellowship in the Central Mississippi Valley, 1820-1840
John Ayabe, Saint Louis University
This paper examines the networks of associations constructed by Baptist congregations in the Illinois and Missouri backcountry during the first half of the nineteenth century. The paper focuses on how these early settlers forged relationships among scattered congregations, the goals of associating, the rationale behind organized associations, and the way that the practice of Christian fellowship became an expression of religious identity. Congregations defined themselves by participating in or withdrawing from the channels of fellowship contstructed by associating churches. In turn, Christian fellowship became a significant component of religious practice among Baptists in the western frontier.
Acres of Grace: Rural Diaries as Expressions of Personal Spirituality
Peter Christian Pehrson, Independent Scholar
American rural life has been examined by scholars but there is an aspect of rural social history and religion that is worthy of more attention. There are such broad and generic examples of rural spirituality as mystics with divining rods, horse whisperers, animal healers, folk-medicine practitioners, herbalists, and rain-makers. Characteristics associated with piety - optimism, profound faith before often overwhelming circumstances, the desire to do and be good, witnessing, prayer, altruism, and anti-materialism - are often the very characteristics needed to be a successful farmer, or a farmer's partner. This paper focuses on the interior lives of farm men and women by examining rural diaries as archival expressions of private spirituality.
Admission is free, pre-registration is required. To register and receive copies of the paper, e-mail Ginger Shulick at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 312.255.3524.
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