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Title: Ministering to a changing world : local church response to societal and cultural change, Slough 1890-1974
Author: Masom, Grant
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 6565
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Secularisation, or the reducing social significance of religion in the twentieth century, has been widely researched in terms of 'demand' factors, but less so on the 'supply-side', considering the contributory effects of the strategies and actions of religious organisations themselves. Local studies have largely focused on established urban centres in the nineteenth and early twenty centuries. This thesis examines 'supply-side' factors in a local study of Slough, which exemplified communities around London that grew rapidly as industrial development shifted to the south-east after WWI. This rapid growth and accompanying demographic change posed major challenges for the churches. However, while some churches struggled, others responded effectively and grew strongly. Organisational structure, leadership, congregational support and theology all affected a church's fortunes. The ability to mobilise practical and financial congregational support was a major factor. The availability of finance, while always a challenge, could be a sign of support for the church's mission. Focusing on the young was not simply necessary for replenishing church membership, but a core means of building a church community for all ages. Changing social attitudes towards duty and choice, combined with increasing leisure options, posed a further major challenge. A Christianity defined by social norms or political priorities could seem one choice amongst many, but churches that focused on attracting attendance, offering a welcoming congregational experience with authentic spiritual encounter were attractive. The thesis takes a quantitative approach, and finds that relative to population, overall adult religious adherence was stable before WWI, declined substantially in the interwar years, and stabilised again after WWII. However, the picture was not uniform; Protestant denominations declined relatively, albeit at differing rates; Roman Catholicism and Pentecostalism flourished; and there was significant institutional proliferation after WWII. Overall, the thesis contends that churches were key agents in their own fortunes, and secularisation was not inevitable.
Supervisor: Smith, Mark Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Local history ; Social history ; Religious history ; Church history