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Dimensions of Community Structures in the Parish



Publication Type:

Student Thesis


Community may be a major organizing principle of church. In more general terms, community may be defined as a sustainable group of moderate size, with capacity to foster mutuality and trust. Larger communities may be clusters of several smaller groups. In the past the family served as the basic community in the parish and in the rest of society, but today this is not an accurate way to describe neither society, nor church. Presently small groups have appeared (spontaneously or provoked by clergy) and have become a manifest feature of the Roman Catholic Church and of many Protestant and Evangelic denominations all over the world. These new groups cannot compete with families or similar economic units, which are based on biological or sexual relations. But as a community structure in the parish, they are occasionally a substitute for the family. People join more intentionally and withdraw easier but the groups are far more committing than the traditional parish life and they may also connect the individual to the larger parish and society and in this way they operate as a mediating structure. The groups feel they are the small church in the parish, with their own authentic ecclesiality. The task of this thesis is to improve the existing tools that describe and distinguish between the new community structures. The improved tools make it possible to compare these groups to other parish-based groups. The existing typology is formed exclusively for the American Roman Catholic Church and is neither helpful outside this sphere, nor consistent to ecclesiological parameters. The tools are based on a model, which is bias and has a normative perspective that does not allow for a group to simultaneously score high on inner and public life. Therefore I have identified some indispensable dimensions and built a model where the variables can vary freely. The most interesting dimensions are: cohesiveness, churchliness and publicness.


author = {Gunnar Widforss},
title = {Dimensions of Community Structures in the Parish},
month = {May},
year = {2005},
url = {}