Alleluia Community is a unique Christian community of over three hundred committed charismatic Christians in Augusta Georgia who live a covenant and ecumenical lifestyle. Emerging from the Charismatic Renewal Movement of the 1960s, members of Alleluia have maintained a lively charismatic dimension of the Christian tradition with a willingness to make a life-time covenant commitment to each other. Since 1973, this group of people has exhibited heroic virtue, self-sacrifice, humility, deference for one another, and service to others outside their boundaries. They claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit in their daily lives. Their leaders lead with a strong sense of service and Christian love and a willingness to lay down their own agendas. A major feature of these covenant makers is that they strive for daily Christian unity while being committed to one another of the twelve plus various denominations and fellowships. Swenson had the opportunity of living among these people for twenty months. During this time, he used a mixed method approach involving over one hundred interviews and three hundred instruments to create both qualitative and quantitative measures of the lives of these people. To structure their story, he used the dilemmas of the institutionalization of religion from the scholarship of Thomas O’Dea and secularization theory. The data gathered gives abundant evident that these Alleluia faithful have substantively resisted the secular influence so common in Western culture.
Don Swenson is professor emeritus of sociology at Mount Royal University.
Introduction: The Conceptual Framework, Historical Background, and Methodology
1. The Fundamental Dilemma: Alleluia and Its Secular Environment
2. The Dilemma of Mixed Motivation: A Case Study of the Elders of the Alleluia Community
3. The Symbolic Dilemma: Ritual Manifested in Alleluia
4. The Dilemma of Administrative Order: Gender Roles in Alleluia
5. The Dilemma of Delimitation: A Study of Ethics within the Alleluia Community
6. The Dilemma of Power: A Study of Conversion in Alleluia
7. The Interpretative Dilemma: An Investigation of Belief Systems in Alleluia
The Alleluia Community located in Augusta Georgia is an alternative charismatic community consisting of Christian families living together and sharing common resources as an expression of love and service. Swenson’s important study draws on O’Dea’s five dilemmas of the institutionalization of religion to probe how Alleluia navigates the tensions between the sacred and the secular, charisma and its routinization, and the prophets of renewal and renewal movements. Swenson discovers that the community has built safeguards that enable it to resist the forces of secularization. Interestingly, Swenson proposes a sixth dilemma—the interpretative dilemma, or order of belief—in which the human experience of the sacred is structured around myth, story, belief, ritual, experience, and community. This book is valuable for those interested in Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity, the sociology of religion, and theories of secularization.