Date of Award

1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Christopher Sonn

Abstract

The nature and implications for growth of sense of community (SOC) in a local church setting were explored. In study one, the Neighbourhood Cohesion Index (NCI) and Sense of Community Index (SCI) were completed by 108 Sorrento Anglican Church members. Principal components and reliability analyses indicated that the church-referenced SCI was an appropriate assessment tool. Three factors labelled values, influence and neighbourhood concern emerged in a SCI principal components analysis. A hierarchical multiple regression indicated that talking to neighbours about religion and the SCI values subscale predicted 22% of the variance in the NCI. The prediction that the church-referenced SCI would relate negatively with the NCI was not supported. In study two, semi-structured interviews with five members were analysed to explore the unique properties of SOC and neighbourhood cohesion within the church setting. Study two results suggest that SOC can be associated with negative outcomes. Transcript excerpts are used to illustrate that a contemporary service, youth emphasis and close-knit relationships may pose barriers to attracting potential members. While shared fellowship and interpersonal connections bind the church positively, the dangers associated with a relatively unchanged membership were noted. It was argued that the development of a second congregation, small home prayer groups and employment of a youth worker have been hampered by neighbourhood, development and church profile factors. Findings are discussed in terms of how strategies for change are challenged by tile need to maintain existing structures. Further investigation into the negative aspects of SOC is warranted.

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