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Strangers and Friends at the Welcome TableContemporary Christianities in the American South$
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James Hudnut-Beumler

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469640372

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469640372.001.0001

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Megachurches and the Reinvention of Southern Church Life

Megachurches and the Reinvention of Southern Church Life

(p.153) 7 Megachurches and the Reinvention of Southern Church Life
Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table

James Hudnut-Beumler

University of North Carolina Press

The phenomena of megachurches—churches with approximately two thousand in weekly worship attendance—is especially prevalent in the South. Not only is the South a region of many churches, but the likelihood that a given person attends a large congregation with giant screens, many services, ministries, programs for all ages, and perhaps even multiple locations is higher than anywhere else in the U.S. Not everyone in the South attends a megachurch but because so many do the strong megachurch model affects the general experience of church attendance and belonging, even in small churches. To examine southern megachurches in their variety, this chapter visits four churches that introduce important aspects of this innovative form: Bellevue Baptist Church just outside Memphis, Tennessee; Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, a church that grew the nation’s largest Christian college, Liberty University; New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, associated with the prosperity gospel; and, St. Andrew AME, a neighborhood church that has grown into a multifaceted resource for its largely impoverished neighbourhood in south Memphis.

Keywords:   Bellevue Baptist Church, Southern Baptist Convention, Rev. Steve Gaines, Thomas Road Baptist Church, Liberty University, Rev. Jerry Falwell, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Prosperity Gospel, Bishop Eddie Long, St. Andrew AME

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