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Urban Church ImaginedReligion, Race, and Authenticity in the City$
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Jessica M. Barron and Rhys Williams

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479877669

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479877669.001.0001

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Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters

(p.47) 2 Urban Outfitters
Urban Church Imagined

Jessica M. Barron

Rhys H. Williams

NYU Press

This chapter discusses in more detail the extent to which the congregational culture at Downtown Church is predicated on a sense of fashion and connects with those who are comfortable with cultural consumption. The core of Downtown Church is a “matrix of authenticity” triangulated by middle-class consumption of city spaces, urban nightlife and entertainment, and the visible presence of racial and ethnic minorities thought to characterize the diversity that marks a city. The emphasis on a particular type of congregant, and the image of what makes a church authentically urban, combine to form a “designer church.” The gendered nature of many of these expectations is clear and appears in several church-sponsored events. Another example of this aspect of the congregation’s culture is a dress code for those involved in being a public presence for the church (such as the greeters); the code itself is not focused on modesty or more conservative notions of propriety, but rather emphasizes contemporary fashion.

Keywords:   urban nightlife, cultural consumption, designer church, dress code, matrix of authenticity

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