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Small-Town America by Robert Wuthnow

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Habits of Faith

The Social Role of Small-Town Congregations

VALLEY VIEW UNITED METHODIST CHURCH occupies a spacious corner lot conveniently located just a block from the town square which surrounds a modest two-story county courthouse constructed of native limestone. The church’s stately red-brick building with a tall bell tower rising above the front door was erected a century ago to replace the small frame church constructed in 1870, two years after the congregation was organized by a circuit rider. The sanctuary with curved wooden pews easily holds two hundred worshippers, but on most Sundays attendance at the eleven o’clock service is fewer than half that number. This morning, the preaching service and Holy Communion are being conducted ...

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