‘The church is ... my family’: exploring the interrelationship between familial and religious practices and spaces
This paper considers the interrelationship between family and church, their practices and spaces. Three areas that emerged from qualitative interviews with women who were current and former churchgoers are addressed. First, women described their ‘church as family’ because of personal histories of attending with family and family-like relationships. Second, the resonance between family and church practices and spaces mapped onto other geographies such as gender. Third, experiences of belonging were narrated through the trope ‘church as family’, yet disrupted by racial and classed encounters. The women’s experiences demonstrate that intimate practices and spaces of family are permeable and not necessarily bound to conventional formations or sites. They can stretch beyond the household into other spaces, such as church, whereby congregational members are part of kin networks or become ‘chosen families’ or a ‘personal community’ that is familial. By looking at this interrelationship, the ways in which people ‘do family’ may offer insights into how and why people may ‘do church’. Keywords: church, family, gender, religion, women
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