Space-Sharing by Religious Groups

Multiple stained glass window columns in a cathedral
Download PDFNumrich, Space Sharing


This article examines space-sharing arrangements between congregational subgroups as one iteration of the larger phenomenon of space-sharing by religious groups. Cases of both ineffective and effective space-sharing arrangements in Roman Catholic parishes, Jewish synagogues, Muslim mosques, and Hindu temples will be offered, “effectiveness” being gauged by the degree of conflict in managing the common space. Drawing upon insights from commons management research based on the pioneering work of political economist Elinor Ostrom, the article argues that an effective or relatively conflict-free space-sharing arrangement can usually be attributed to the adequacy and clarity of the design principles underlying the arrangement. The article will conclude by discussing similarities and differences between space-sharing by congregational subgroups and other iterations of the space-sharing phenomenon (host and guest congregations, joint operation of a facility, and use of a third-party venue). [1]

Introduction: Space-Sharing Arrangements

The phenomenon of religious groups sharing common space is becoming commonplace in the United States. Such arrangements can involve one congregation using another congregation’s building, religious organizations operating a joint facility, or religious groups using venues that are managed or co-managed by a third party.

This article will examine a familiar iteration of the space-sharing phenomenon—two or more distinguishable subgroups within a congregation managing their use of common space at different times and for different purposes. I focus here on subgroupings defined by differences in ethnic identity and/or religious beliefs and practices though distinctions of social status, generation, gender, or sexual orientation can also create congregational subgroups. What makes for effective management of the common space, that is, a relatively conflict-free space-sharing arrangement? Conversely, what accounts for ineffective management, that is, a generally conflictual space-sharing arrangement?

The article has four sections. First, I will discuss insights from commons management research that lead to the following hypothesis: the effectiveness of a space-sharing arrangement can usually be attributed to the design principles underlying the arrangement—the more adequate and clear the principles, the more likely the arrangement will be relatively conflict-free. Second, drawing upon scholarly and other reports, I will offer cases of both ineffective and effective space-sharing arrangements in Roman Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu congregations. Next, I will analyze the cases according to the design principles underlying the space-sharing arrangements, identify potential thresholds of dissonance that can undermined such arrangements, and discuss both minimalist and maximalist definitions of “effectiveness” in managing congregational common space. Finally, I will conclude with speculations about other space-sharing contexts.

I prefer the term “common space” to “sacred space” for two reasons. First, the shared space may not be designated as sacred in a permanent or ongoing sense. Whereas the common space at times may be a church sanctuary, a mosque prayer hall, or a temple sanctum, at other times it may be an ordinary room. Moreover, the common space may sometimes be used for purposes not considered “sacred” by the participants, such as social activities or cultural celebrations. Second, the term common space alludes to the notion of a “commons.”

Insights from Commons Management Research

An extensive body of commons management research derives from the pioneering work of political economist Elinor Ostrom.[2] A “commons” is a resource shared by two or more parties over time, ranging from household refrigerators to community playgrounds, from bodies of water to bodies of knowledge.[3] Much of commons management research has focused on sharing natural resources (like fishing grounds). I have found nothing to date regarding religious groups sharing common space in the way I have framed this article.[4]

In her groundbreaking Governing the Commons, Ostrom described eight design principles that characterize effective management of a shared resource or “commons” over time: (1) the boundaries of the commons and its legitimate users are clearly defined, (2) the rules of use match the local context, (3) users have opportunities to modify the rules, (4) outside authorities respect the users’ right to create their own rules, (5) users’ behavior is self-monitored, (6) a system of sanctions is in place for rules violations, (7) conflict-resolution mechanisms are easily accessible, and (8) large-scale commons use involves multiple layers of governance.[5] Ostrom’s principles have held up well over years of application and study.[6] Note that the importance of rules is explicit or implicit throughout the principles, though specific rules will differ according to the context.[7]

I will use these design principles in assessing the effectiveness of the space-sharing arrangements in the congregational cases described below, though all eight principles need not pertain in every case. I am arguing that the more adequate and clear the principles, the more likely the space-sharing arrangement will be relatively conflict-free; conversely, inadequate and unclear principles will likely conduce to a generally conflictual space-sharing arrangement.

In framing effectiveness in terms of the degree of intergroup conflict I am again drawing upon insights from commons management research. As Dietz, Ostrom, and Stern observe, managing an environmental commons inherently involves struggle and conflict.[8] I would argue that the potential, at least, for intergroup struggle and conflict is inherent in managing congregational common space. My definition of an effective arrangement as “relatively conflict-free” is admittedly minimalist in that the intergroup relationship can be actively congenial or rather aloof—either way, it is not contentious. (I will discuss a maximalist definition of effectiveness below.) The frequency of group interaction is not relevant to my inquiry about the effectiveness of the space-sharing arrangement. The intuitive notion that minimal interaction conduces to better group relations due to fewer opportunities to “cross” each other’s paths—in both senses of the word, physically meeting and fostering conflict—does not always hold. The duration of the space-sharing arrangement over time is also not relevant to my inquiry.[9] An arrangement may be short-term and can dissolve for any number of reasons, as when a subgroup of a congregation accumulates enough resources to purchase or build its own facility.

Cases of Space-Sharing by Congregational Subgroups

I have selected both ineffective and effective cases from scholarly and other reports that reflect three variables in space-sharing arrangements by congregational subgroups. First, I have organized the cases according to religious tradition, in this order: Roman Catholic parishes, Jewish synagogues, Muslim mosques, and Hindu temples. Second, the subgroups in all cases differ by ethnic identity and/or religious beliefs and practices. Third, I have included cases that reflect different rates of group interaction. My assumption is that the effectiveness of the space-sharing arrangement does not depend on any of these variables—the larger religious tradition, group distinctions of ethnicity and/or beliefs and practices, or the frequency of intergroup contact. The accompanying figure shows the cases; the descriptions begin with the ineffective cases in each tradition.

Figure. Cases of Congregational Space-Sharing

Type of CongregationIneffective CasesEffective Cases
Roman Catholic ParishesAll Saints Catholic Church
Duplex/Integrated Parishes
St. Catherine’s Catholic Church
St. Francis de Sales Parish
Jewish SynagoguesCongregation Shearith Israel
Congregation Beth Elohim
Kehilat Chovevei Tzion
Muslim MosquesIslamic Cultural Center of Greater ChicagoNorth Hudson Islamic Educational Center
Hindu TemplesPittsburgh TemplesHindu Bhavan
  1. Roman Catholic Parishes

All Saints Catholic Church. Religion scholar Brett Hoover describes the frequent and often contentious interaction between Anglos and Latinos at the pseudonymous All Saints Catholic Church in a Midwestern city. Hoover calls this a “shared parish,” that is, “two or more cultural groups, each with distinct masses and ministries, but who share the same parish facilities.”[10] He claims that this arrangement “has become, whether in incipient, intentional, or ad hoc form, the primary local way in which Roman Catholics address cultural diversity within the [U.S.] Church.”[11] Hoover argues that this parish model “institutionalizes both avoidance and connection,” requiring continual negotiation between the two groups.[12]

Although All Saints has one administrative structure and seeks to serve all parishioners,[13] asymmetries of power and privilege affect the relationship between the dominant Anglo group and Latinos on many levels.[14] Significantly, the two groups have differing understandings of rules and norms, including protocols for facilities usage. Hoover reports that the Latino priest “on many occasions pleaded that his parishioners obey the parking rules so that they not incur the wrath of the americanos, potentially limiting their ability to conduct ministry.”[15]

“Duplex” and “Integrated” Parishes. High levels of intergroup tension characterized certain Catholic parishes in previous periods of American immigration history even though the frequency of group interaction was quite low. Italian immigrants were accommodated in “duplex parishes” in the late 1800s, relegated to the basements or annexes of established churches in an arrangement so untenable that the Catholic hierarchy eventually abandoned it in favor of the ethnic parish model.[16] Catholic historian Silvano Tomasi quotes from the written history of Transfiguration Parish in New York City regarding the minimal group interaction in 1897: “Father McLoughlin did his best to make the two races coalesce, by compelling the Italians to attend services in the upper church, but found that far better results could be obtained by having the two people worshipping separately.”[17]

The inequities and denigrations of such an arrangement were patently obvious. “The immigrants were not even in full control of the church basements [and other spaces] they were using,” writes Tomasi.[18] “What a humiliation,” complained the Italian priest serving the Italian parishioners of the cathedral in St. Paul, Minnesota, “for us, here, numerous as we are . . . to have to come here in this low and humid hall, placed under the feet of a dissimilar people who sometimes look down on us.”[19]

For Puerto Rican migrants to New York City following World War II, the archdiocese instituted an “integrated parish” model analogous to the Italian duplex model.[20] Here, again, interaction with the dominant parish group was both relatively infrequent and inequitable. In describing the typical relationship, church and society scholar Ana Maria Diaz-Stevens explains that “the faithful in the basement church often felt treated as second-class citizens and second-class Catholics, because the basement represented social distance from the upper church.”[21] Diaz-Stevens finds the phrase “internal colony” more suitable than “integrated parish” in describing the Puerto Rican experience.

St. Catherine’s Catholic Church. The arrangement at the pseudonymous St. Catherine’s Catholic Church in Houston also exemplifies low frequency and contentious group interaction.[22] In the past, whites seemed to have been the de facto dominant group at St. Catherine’s, a remnant of whom still attend. In addition, St. Catherine’s today features “a totally segregated Vietnamese Mission” plus “five ethnically based Catholic Communities which function as effectively parallel—often hostile—congregations.”[23] Anthropologist Kathleen Sullivan notes how little group interaction takes place in the parish, even at the “multicultural evenings” held four times a year,[24] but she also reports that “inter-ethnic conflicts” flare up around scheduling snafus.[25] Although some complain that the white minority still wields undue influence in the parish, authority is invested in the official statuses of the Vietnamese Mission and the five Catholic Communities, and the pastor has made strides in broadening the representation of the parish’s oversight councils.[26]

St. Francis de Sales Parish. We began this section with the case of All Saints Catholic Church, a “shared parish” characterized by high frequency/high tension group interaction. Brett Hoover advocates a different model, which he calls “communion,” based on Catholic theological and ecclesiological principles, offering St. Francis de Sales Parish in Holland, Michigan as an example.[27]

The pastor of St. Francis, Fr. Stephen Dudek, has chronicled the transformation of the church from a shared parish dominated by whites to a communion model characterized by high frequency/low tension group interaction.[28] A fire that destroyed the church facility provided an opportunity for the constituent ethnic groups—“English, Spanish, and Vietnamese speakers”—to build a new church “designed to sustain the faith life of three unique communities and to promote among them cross-cultural understanding and dialogue.”[29] In this design, reverence replaces antagonism: “reverence must be shown for all cultural groups within the parish, as well as for what is proving to be a new culture, the multicultural context itself. Reverence is exhibited for self and others as a mutually enriching two-way process.”[30] Dudek offers several strategies and practical suggestions for creating a reverent multiculturalism in a parish, including acknowledging loss of group privilege,[31] empowering subordinate groups,[32] and establishing a broad-based but nimble decision-making process.[33] Dudek also encourages “intercultural dialogue” instead of “[t]he natural tendency in multicultural parishes [which] is to minister using a parallel-tracks approach where each ethnic group worships, catechizes, and functions as Church in a way that affirms individual group identity but rarely promotes true dialogue across cultural boundaries.”[34]

  1. Jewish Synagogues

Congregation Shearith Israel. This synagogue in New York City offers a historical case of internal congregational conflict over ethnic identity and religious beliefs and practices. Sephardic Jews founded Shearith Israel in 1654, the first synagogue in North America and the only synagogue in the city for more than a century and a half. Ashkenazi Jews attended early on, and although the two groups “differed from each other linguistically, culturally and in the manner in which they practiced their religion,” explains one account, “they lived together harmoniously and shared the same synagogue until 1825.”[35] The congregation followed the Sephardic minhag, or custom, in its worship services.

The harmonious space-sharing arrangement began to unravel as the number of Ashkenazi members increased in the early 1800s: “The new immigrants found the rituals of Shearith Israel very strange, and repeatedly asked the trustees to hold separate services for them. They were denied.” Tensions escalated when the Sephardic leaders denied membership to most of the Ashkenazi applicants in 1825 and barred an Ashkenazi member from reading the Torah passage in synagogue services after he refused to offer the customary monetary donation to do so. A contingent of Ashkenazis left Shearith Israel and established their own synagogue, Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, according to the German and Polish minhag, though the two congregations maintained an amicable relationship.[36]

Although Shearith Israel still calls itself “The Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue” and follows the Sephardic minhag, its membership includes Ashkenazi Jews. “Today,” proclaims its Website, “Jews of all backgrounds make up our welcoming, traditional community.”[37]

Congregation Beth Elohim. This synagogue in Charleston, South Carolina offers another historical case of internal congregational conflict. Here the Sephardic/Ashkenazi division was overlaid with tension between traditionalists and reformists that eventuated in the first Reform synagogue in the United States. Beth Elohim was established by Sephardic Jews in 1749, and although Ashkenazi Jews joined the congregation from the beginning, the Sephardic minhag was followed by all and those who favored that tradition dominated the synagogue.[38]

By the 1820s, Beth Elohim was “severely autocratic” and religiously moribund, according to one historian.[39] In 1824, a group of reform-minded members petitioned the synagogue’s board of directors to make several changes in the religious services: inclusion of English, deletion of “superfluous” elements, and reduction of the overall length.[40] The board refused to consider the petition, leading several of the reformists to depart and establish the Reformed [sic] Society of Israelites, which lasted into the 1830s.[41] But in the early 1840s, a reformist contingent in Beth Elohim (some from the defunct Reformed Society) again pushed for innovations (including installation of an organ) and were opposed by the traditionalists.

As historian Robert Liberles reports, “The synagogue’s minute books attest to the bitter divisions within the congregation” over the proposed changes.[42] At one point the president refused to allow the board to meet in the building, defying them to break in if they dared. For a time, the contending parties agreed to worship in the building on alternating weekends.[43] The dispute was finally settled in the courts in favor of the reformists. This shift at Beth Elohim was influenced by cultural factors in the larger society, including the American Reform Jewish movement.[44]

Kehilat Chovevei Tzion. This “dual” synagogue in a Chicago suburb offers a contemporary case of Sephardic and Ashkenazi groups sharing a common facility, the only such arrangement in the area and one of only a few in the United States.[45] Jewish solidarity and ethno-religious sensitivity have undergirded the relationship between the two groups from the start. As one of the rabbis puts it, “We fully accept each other as brothers and sisters in faith. But at the same time there is a concern that we want to preserve the individual rituals that we cherish as sacred.”[46]

The building features separate sanctuaries for Ashkenazi and Sephardic worship. The men’s and women’s sections are positioned side-by-side in the Ashkenazi sanctuary, front-and-back in the Sephardic sanctuary. In both, the podiums for the Torah reading are adjustable in order to accommodate the Ashkenazi practice of reading from a slanted surface and the Sephardic practice of reading from a flat surface.[47]

The building also has areas used by both groups, including a social hall, classrooms, and kosher kitchen facilities. The rabbi calls the overall design a combination of “sacred space and shared space,” saying, “Our children will play together, our children will attend groups together, we will have kiddishes [celebrations], social functions, educational programs, but at the same time there will be unique prayers.”[48] The rental agreement for use of the building specifies that a supervisor approved by the synagogue must be present for all group activities and an approved mashgiach, an expert in kosher rules, must oversee the preparation of food in the kitchen.[49]

One Sephardic member of Kehilat Chovevei Tzion expressed her appreciation for the relationship between the synagogue’s two constituencies: “[We are] more than friends. We are family.” Even so, worshiping separately can be “bittersweet” for some members, as another member remarked about the first Rosh Hashanah services in the new building, though he hoped that the sounding of the shofar would inspire both groups “to look back and realize there’s no way we could’ve done this in any way without the help of God. Simple as that, it doesn’t happen otherwise.”[50]

  1. Muslim Mosques

Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago (ICCGC). This mosque was preceded by a Bosnian mutual aid and benevolent society (est. 1906) and two iterations of a Bosnian ethno-religious organization (est. 1955, reconfigured 1968), the most recent of which created ICCGC in 1972 in order to build a new mosque in suburban Chicago.[51] In the words of a promotional booklet for the mosque’s opening in 1976, ICCGC was intended to be “a fraternal Islamic organization, dedicated to serve all Muslims, regardless of their ethnic background.”[52] ICCGC’s board of directors comprised both Bosnian and non-Bosnian representatives.

Despite this equitable co-ethnic polity, some perceived ICCGC to be a de facto Bosnian organization like its precursor ethno-religious bodies. Leaders from the Montenegro region of Yugoslavia in particular sought membership in ICCGC’s Bosnian parent body in the late 1980s, which Bosnian leaders interpreted as an attempt to take control of both organizations. The dispute escalated, and at one point the dissident group changed the locks on the mosque, which “prevented many persons of Bosnian descent from entering the mosque or using it for religious or social activities,” according to a court document filed by ICCGC’s Bosnian parent body.[53] In June of 1989, the contending parties sought arbitration before the Cook County Circuit Court. A written history produced by ICCGC not long after the dispute would deem this period “troubled times.”[54]

The turmoil within the mosque mirrored that in the homeland of many members which culminated in the Yugoslav Conflict of 1991-1995. At one point in the litigation, two of the principals laid out the full parameters of the ethnic battle: “Unfortunately, as the Court is aware, the ethnic tensions, both within the Yugoslavian community and between certain members of the Yugoslavian community and non-Yugoslavian Muslims, are quite intense at this time.” The ethnic conflict was also placed into its larger religious context: “Islam is a world religion, whose adherents come from numerous ethnic groups. Unfortunately, as this Court must recognize from the painful history of this litigation, the common ties of religion do not necessarily preclude the existence of fierce ethnic and cultural animosities within Islam.”[55]

In 1990, the court appointed a temporary Custodian Committee comprising one person from “the Montenegran faction,” one from “the rival Bosnian faction,” and “a Muslim of Arab descent who is not [a] member of either faction.”[56] The committee was charged “to further the Center’s goals of cooperative action by Moslems [sic] for religious and cultural purposes . . . and [to] have primary responsibility for management of the Islamic Cultural Center.” The court also named a local Muslim university professor to serve as advisor to the committee, and issued this stern warning: “All parties are restrained from using force, violence, or threats of force or violence to interfere with the peaceful use of the Islamic Cultural Center.”[57]

The Custodian Committee labored to keep the peace as the judge watched its progress toward negotiating a fair conclusion to the conflict. In March of 1992, representatives of four parties—two Bosnian groups, Montenegrans, and non-Yugoslavian Muslims—failed to broker a resolution outside of court.[58] The final outcome in November of that year called for a reconfigured ICCGC board of directors that precluded Bosnian domination, thus reestablishing the original intention of equitable co-ethnic oversight of the mosque.[59]

North Hudson Islamic Educational Center. This predominantly immigrant mosque in Union City, New Jersey has actively recruited members from the local Latino community.[60] Estimates vary, but Latinos may comprise 25 to 35 percent of the worshiping congregation. The two groups interact at regular religious events like Friday jumah prayers and Islamic holidays. The mosque also provides services and activities tailored for Latinos, such as Qur’an studies in Spanish and an Annual Hispanic Muslim Day. The 2009 Day featured halal (religiously acceptable) empanadas, speakers relating stories of their “reversion” (the term often preferred to “conversion”) to Islam and experiences as Latino Muslims, and a martial arts display by students of a Puerto Rican Muslim teacher.[61] The page for the mosque’s Dawa (“Outreach”) Committee advertised several events for Ramadan 2015 targeting converts/reverts (both words are used), such as an Iftar dinner pairing them with “Muslim hosts,” and quoted the Qur’an in both English and Spanish.[62]

The imam reports the welcoming attitude of the immigrant majority: “The non-Latino Muslims in our [mosque] think highly of the Latino converts. They believe they are real brothers and sisters in Islam and they treat them as such.”[63] One Latina thinks that acceptance has taken some time but is now at a high level: “It’s not so shocking nowadays when you hear a Latina Muslim speak her language in front of other Latinos. It still does raise an eyebrow but the power in numbers is helping familiarize others about the growing numbers of Latinos in Islam.”[64]

  1. Hindu Temples

Pittsburgh Hindu Temples. Ritual studies scholar Fred W. Clothey describes the emergence of two Hindu temples in the Pittsburgh area stemming largely from a dispute over spaces dedicated to various deities.[65] In March of 1973, a local group representing several Indian regional identities incorporated the Hindu Society of North America, Pittsburgh, an affiliate of the organization of the same name in New York City. The following month, they established a temporary temple facility in a former Baptist church in the Pittsburgh suburb of Monroeville, with images of several Hindu deities as well as ritual spaces to accommodate the local Jain and Sikh communities.

Later in 1973, representatives of the famed Sri Venkateshvara temple in Tirupati, south India, approached the leadership of the Monroeville temple with a plan to build a Venkateshvara-affiliated temple on the site. Approvals were secured and groundbreaking for the new temple took place in April of 1975. But, as Clothey explains, it quickly became “evident that the community was profoundly divided,” especially over the issue of ritual spaces in the new temple.[66]

At a general meeting in July of 1975, a resolution was passed that called for images of the Venkateshvara sect to be located in the center of the temple, but also for images of other Hindu deities to be included in the temple and for provisions to be made to add more such deities in the future if desired. The resolution promised to refund the contribution of anyone who had supported the new temple “under the impression that this will be exclusively [a] Lord Venkateshvara Temple” and now felt dissatisfied with the “non-sectarian and broad-based” identity of the temple.[67]

The Tirupati Venkateshvara temple withdrew its support of the project upon hearing of the resolution. Various attempts at compromise failed, including a suggestion to configure the new temple with separate spaces dedicated to the respective deities plus an adjacent common hall. A general meeting in December of 1975 revealed the “hostile feelings” within the community over the issue, and that same month a group formed a corporation to establish a Venkateshvara temple in the Penn Hills suburb of Pittsburgh.[68] Groundbreaking for that temple took place the following June.

Hindu Bhavan. Hindu Bhavan temple in Morrisville, North Carolina (between Raleigh and Durham) presents a much different picture than the Pittsburgh case. Its parent organization, the Hindu Society of North Carolina, established Hindu Bhavan in the mid-1980s. The temple exemplifies what religion scholar Steven W. Ramey calls a pan-Indian philosophy that seeks to unify the many Indian regional identities and deity-particular Hindu groups in the area,[69] an “ecumenical” approach found in many Hindu temples in the United States, including the Monroeville temple discussed above.[70] From the start, Hindu Bhavan has employed “democratic” procedures, to use Ramey’s term, in selecting the deity images for the temple. By popular vote of temple members, Krishna and Radha took center place in the sanctum, flanked right and left by several other Hindu deities. An image of Mahavira sacred to Jains was also installed. Several other Hindu images were later added at the request of temple members.[71]

Hindu Bhavan’s facilities are heavily scheduled by numerous Hindu ethno-religious groups.[72] The Jain Study Center of North Carolina also uses the temple and has designated an official liaison with the temple.[73] Stipulations for facilities usage are clear and detailed in the rental contract. Allowable and not allowable activities are listed for the various spaces in the temple. For instance, “Bollywood / Western Music and any kind of Filmy Dancing, DJ, Garba, Bhangra, and loud nonreligious related Music etc. is not allowed in Temple Hall. Temple Hall is a place of worship and only Religious events are allowed. Floor dancing is not allowed except for HSNC Navratri Garba” (emphasis in original). Moreover, the temple authorities responsible for facilities usage are identified in the rental contract.[74]

The various constituent groups interact at times, for instance at the annual Indian Independence Day celebration. Describing part of the event one year, Ramey writes, “a standing-room-only crowd attended a pan-Indian fair. Representatives of each region prepared the culinary specialties of their regions and performed dances and music for the entire community.”[75]But more often, the groups use the temple in serial fashion for their own unique celebrations. Certain popular celebrations like Holi have multiple iterations, as Ramey explains:

For example, in 2000, although the Hindu Society conducted a Holi celebration for the entire community, the Gujarati association and at least one other organization held their own festivities at the Bhavan. While some people attend several of the Holi celebrations, naturally the celebrations organized by a person’s own regional association has [sic] an added significance. Moreover, the diverse languages of South Asia make it difficult for everyone to come together for festivals or other occasions, as no single language is effective for communicating to everyone.[76]

Although Ramey reports some strains over language differences and perceived north Indian dominance, Hindu Bhavan seems to manage its high-traffic facility usage with resolve and efficiency. As Ramey writes, “The democratic emphases of this temple correlate with the ritual openness that the community maintains.”[77] Interestingly, given the Pittsburgh experience, Hindu Bhavan has included an image of Sri Venkateshvara in its temple from the beginning, though a Venkateshvara group split off to establish its own temple not far from Hindu Bhavan. The relationship between the two temples is amicable—the Venkateshvara group even uses Hindu Bhavan’s facilities for occasions when their own building cannot accommodate the turnout.[78]

Effective and Ineffective Space-Sharing Arrangements: Design Principles, Thresholds of Dissonance, and Definitions of Effectiveness

What makes for effective management of common space by subgroups within a congregation, that is, a relatively conflict-free space-sharing arrangement? What accounts for ineffective management, that is, a generally conflictual space-sharing arrangement between groups? The foregoing cases suggest that the adequacy and clarity of the design principles underlying the arrangement are key.

Principles 1 (the boundaries of the commons and its legitimate users are clearly defined) and 2 (the rules of use match the local context) lay the foundation for a space-sharing arrangement. The conflictual cases all involve a dispute over some group’s access to or equitable use of congregational space. Anglos and Latinos at All Saints Catholic Church do not see eye-to-eye on the protocols for facilities usage, and the Latinos must be on their best behavior even in the parking lot so as not to “incur the wrath of the americanos, potentially limiting their ability to conduct ministry,” in the words of the Latino priest. Italians and Puerto Ricans were barred from the main sanctuary in “duplex” and “integrated” parishes. Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews clashed at Congregation Shearith Israel and Congregation Beth Elohim; in the latter case, the factions were unwilling even to worship in the same building on the same weekend. The conflict over legitimate oversight and use of ICCGC by ethnic factions within its membership became so intense that only court intervention could keep the mosque’s doors open. In Pittsburgh, the configuration of the sacred spaces within the Monroeville Hindu temple, and thus the arrangements for their use by devotees of the respective deities, was contested by the Venkateshvara group, which eventually withdrew to establish their own temple where they could control the sacred space to their liking.

In contrast, the cases with relatively conflict-free space-sharing arrangements have worked out principles 1 and 2, sometimes with great effort. St. Francis de Sales Parish transitioned from a shared parish model with Anglo dominance to a communion model of multiethnic reverence. ICCGC had to endure “troubled times,” relying on the court to reestablish its original, equitable, co-ethnic space-sharing arrangement. The arrangement at Kehilat Chovevei Tzion seems to have evolved effortlessly, while Hindu Bhavan’s ecumenical approach to the diversity within the local Hindu population and its democratic procedures for sharing common space have minimized intergroup conflict at the temple.

Principles 3 (users have opportunities to modify the rules), 5 (users’ behavior is self-monitored), 6 (a system of sanctions is in place for rules violations), and 7 (conflict-resolution mechanisms are easily accessible) provide the means for modifying the space-sharing arrangement and adjudicating conflicts over space usage. When a group has no voice in setting acceptable rules for its own use of the common space, when a group shows no accountability in using the common space and incurs no penalty for egregious behavior, when there are no procedures for resolving disagreements over common space—any or all of these conditions conduce to conflict. The untenable duplex and integrated parish models come immediately to mind, as does the intense conflict at ICCGC. The clear and detailed stipulations for facilities usage at Hindu Bhavan offer a model for avoiding or reducing conflict over the use of common space.

It should be noted here that an otherwise dominant/subordinate group relationship does not necessarily impede the implementation of the design principles. The de facto dominance of one group in some of our cases—immigrants at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center, Bosnians at ICCGC (it continues to be known locally as “the Bosnian mosque”), and north Indians at Hindu Bhavan—has not precluded the other groups from having equitable access to the common space. All parties must agree to the design principles.

As mentioned earlier, all eight design principles need not pertain in every space-sharing arrangement. Principle 4 (outside authorities respect the users’ right to create their own rules) typically would not be relevant for congregations with an independent polity, unless external arbitration is sought for an internal conflict, as in the Beth Elohim and ICCGC cases. This principle, and perhaps also principle 8 (large-scale commons use involves multiple layers of governance), may be pertinent for congregations governed by a mid-level judicatory or a larger denominational body.[79] We recall the role of Catholic authorities in the unsatisfactory duplex/integrated parish models and the influence of the Tirupati Venkateshvara temple in India in the eventual schism in the Pittsburgh Hindu community.

I have suggested that the adequacy and clarity of the design principles underlying the space-sharing arrangement can make the difference between effective (i.e, relatively conflict-free) and ineffective (i.e., generally conflictual) management of common space between groups within a congregation. That said, we must keep this claim in perspective. In their review of more than ninety studies of natural resource commons, Cox, Arnold, and Tomás note the concern that the design principles “might be seen as something of a magic bullet or institutional panacea,” or that they might be applied “as a blueprint approach” that does not sufficiently account for local conditions.[80] These authors astutely point out that this would be an ironic violation of design principle 2 (the rules of use match the local context). As the adage goes, everything is local, and so the design principles for any space-sharing arrangement must be localized. Cox and colleagues suggest a “diagnostic approach” in adapting the design principles to a local context. Realistically, intergroup conflict can arise even with adequate and clear design principles, but we can safely say that resolution of the conflict is unlikely without them.

We must also recognize the complexity of intergroup relationships. Although I have pinpointed the primary factor in each conflictual case above, the reality is that multiple factors often underlie intergroup tension. Here again we can safely say that resolution of a multilayered intergroup conflict is unlikely without adequate and clear design principles for sharing common space.

This leads us to consider what I call the threshold of dissonance. By definition, the groups in a congregational space-sharing arrangement differ in some recognizable way, but when do those differences reach a tipping point that renders the arrangement conflictual, sometimes ending the arrangement altogether? Our ineffective cases confirm that differences in ethnic identity and/or religious beliefs and practices can create powerful intergroup dissonance, but our effective cases suggest that these differences need not reach that tipping point. All Saints, duplex/integrated parishes, and St. Catherine’s Catholic Church reached the tipping point, but St. Francis avoided it. Ethnic dissonance was overcome at ICCGC and it has not troubled the North Hudson mosque. Dissonances of ethnic identity and/or religious beliefs and practices undermined the arrangements at Shearith Israel and Beth Elohim, but not at Kehilat Chovevei Tzion. The threshold of dissonance was reached in the Pittsburgh schism but not at Hindu Bhavan.

The adage is again pertinent—everything is local. The groups must work out their own space-sharing arrangement, or not. Religious leaders often play a crucial role in this, as we have seen, for instance, in the positive roles played by the pastors of St. Francis and (to some extent) St. Catherine’s, and both positive and negative influences of the lay leaders in the ICCGC case. But extra-local factors can fuel internal congregational dissonance. The situation in Yugoslavia certainly factored into the ethnic tensions at ICCGC, while the larger Reform movement in American Judaism influenced the conflict at Beth Elohim. Even so, precisely how such external factors will affect a particular congregation’s space-sharing arrangement depends in large part on the adequacy and clarity of the design principles underlying it.

One further observation can be made before turning to the definition of “effectiveness.” All religions seem to be created equal in that none seems better equipped than others to avoid conflict in congregational space-sharing arrangements. Our cases include Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus on both ends of the continuum, from generally conflictual to relatively conflict-free arrangements. Other religious cases on both ends of the continuum could have been added (see the next section for Protestant examples). Religious beliefs and practices can inform the design principles, as we saw in the “communion” model based on Catholic theological and ecclesiological principles, but no particular religious beliefs and practices guarantee a conflict-free arrangement. That member of the dual synagogue Kehilat Chovevei Tzion may believe “there’s no way we could’ve done this in any way without the help of God,” but they still needed adequate and clear design principles to make the arrangement work. Of course, this is a testable hypothesis. I encourage other scholars and observers to make a case for a religious group that has always engaged in conflict-free congregational space-sharing arrangements.[81]

I have employed a minimalist definition of an “effective” space-sharing arrangement, namely, one that is relatively conflict-free, whether the intergroup relationship can be characterized as actively congenial or rather aloof. In this view, only the degree of conflict, not the frequency of group interaction, is relevant in assessing the effectiveness of sharing common space. I suspect that the constituent groups at both St. Catherine’s and Hindu Bhavan interact with comparably low frequency, yet the relationship at St. Catherine’s is generally conflictual while the relationship at Hindu Bhavan is relatively conflict-free. Likewise, the constituent groups at both All Saints and St. Francis interact with comparably high frequency, yet the two cases fall at opposite ends of the conflict continuum.

Some—perhaps many—may wish for a maximalist definition of effectiveness. Can an aloof space-sharing arrangement among congregational subgroups truly be considered effective? Should not active congeniality be the gold standard?

I would defend a minimalist definition on three counts. First, the positive value of a relatively conflict-free intergroup relationship should not be discounted, especially in contentious times. The mere fact that distinct groups can “get along” enough to share a common space should be celebrated, especially when thresholds of dissonance can cause conflict in their own respective circles as well as in the larger society. It is no small task to share common space, and to do so without serious or sustained conflict presents a positive model whatever the frequency of group interaction.

Secondly, we should not expect too much of congregations.  Sociologist Robert Wuthnow helpfully differentiates a congregation and a community:

Community…implies a supportive set of interpersonal relationships that forge a common bond of identity and caring among people.  It requires interaction, give and take.  A congregation in contrast connotes something more akin to a gathering or an assembly than to a community.  To congregate means literally to come together.  People can be part of a congregation without knowing each other or interacting of a personal level…Having community in the form of a membership that cares for one another and interacts socially in a deep and intensive way…is not absolutely essential [for a congregation.][82].

In other words, subgroups within a congregation do not need to relate to each other with the depth and intimacy of a community.

Thirdly, congregations (and their larger religious traditions) have different gold standards or norms for how interactive their constituent groups should be. For instance, the Hindu emphasis on individual, family, and region-specific religious practices renders intergroup activities less important in Hindu temples than in the Catholic model of communion exemplified in the St. Francis case.

Other Space-Sharing Contexts

This article has examined space-sharing arrangements among congregational subgroups defined by distinctions of ethnic identity and/or religious beliefs and practices. I assume that space-sharing arrangements among congregational subgroups defined by other distinctions, such as social status, generation, gender, or sexual orientation, involve dynamics similar to those found in the cases discussed here. For instance, we see both effective and ineffective arrangements between the immigrant and American-born generations in Korean Protestant churches.[83]

I will conclude with some speculations about other iterations of the space-sharing phenomenon in the hope that further research will tease out both the similarities and the differences across types.

More than twelve percent of the reporting congregations in the National Congregations Study use a building owned by another group.[84] Such arrangements emerge for a variety of reasons, such as economic feasibility and/or geographic proximity. To take just one group, sociologist Pyong Gap Min reports that the majority of Korean congregations in the United States use space in non-Korean (usually white) churches.[85] Given a conservative estimate of more than 4,000 Korean congregations nationwide,[86] the number of host/guest relationships involving Koreans alone is significant.

In these contexts, one congregation is the legal proprietor of the common space. How does that affect the space-sharing arrangement? I suspect that design principle 1 (regarding the boundaries of the commons and its legitimate users) is clearer in such contexts, but that does not guarantee the adequacy or clarity of the other principles. The relationship between host Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church (Latino) and guest Tian Fu United Methodist Church (Chinese) in Brooklyn became so contentious that denominational authorities intervened to negotiate a covenant governing facilities usage. But the covenant did not work, the Latino pastor claiming that the Chinese did not follow the rules, the Chinese pastor admitting that many of the Chinese did not even know about the rules.[87] Again, we see the importance of the design principles regarding rules. After three years of unsuccessful mediation by the denomination’s district superintendent, the Latino congregation ceded the building to the Chinese congregation. A denominational report summarized the lesson learned by the Latino pastor: “whenever two churches share the same space, boundaries and goals must be created for a peaceful collaboration from the onset.”[88] In other words, the design principles must be adequate and clear.

This case suggests that belonging to the same denomination or religious tradition does not guarantee an effective space-sharing arrangement. We might expect conflict to surface more often when the groups differ in denominational or traditional identities, due to the potential threshold of dissonance. Yet it may be that only those who are willing to cross wide boundaries will do so, thus diminishing the potential for conflict around the differences. An example is Calvary Episcopal Church in suburban Chicago, which has provided space for a mosque in an annex basement since the 1980s without major conflict.[89] Even so, the design principles must be adequate and clear in such arrangements.

In other contexts, two or more groups enter into a legal co-proprietorship of common property or facilities, perhaps for both practical and principled reasons. Researcher Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook writes of the Tri-Faith Initiative, a joint effort of a church, a synagogue, and a mosque in Omaha, Nebraska: “The concept behind the project is that co-locating facilities will maximize the resources of all the groups involved and foster respect and greater mutual understanding among the participating religious traditions.”[90] Similar motives underlay the agreement between St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church and Temple Beth Emeth (a Reform synagogue) through their joint corporation, Genesis of Ann Arbor (Michigan).[91]

I suspect that the legalities involved in these contexts make for an adequate and clear design principle 1 (regarding the boundaries of the commons and its legitimate users), but again, that does not guarantee the adequacy or clarity of the other principles. It is certainly true that, in these cases, the groups crossed wide religious boundaries with eyes wide open, thus diminishing the potential for conflict around their differences.

Finally, what are the peculiarities of an arrangement in which religious groups use a space managed or co-managed by a third party, and thus the groups themselves have only indirect or subsidiary authority in matters of space usage? For instance, chapels and other dedicated spaces in airports, colleges and universities, hospitals, military installations, and prisons can have multiple levels of regulation, from on-site departments to parent institutions to government bodies (such as Graterford Prison outside of Philadelphia).[92] Some employers have established elaborate mechanisms for accommodating a multifaith workforce, like the Ford Interfaith Network, one of several corporate-sponsored Employee Resource Groups at Ford Motor Company.[93] Moreover, hotel conference rooms, public school auditoriums, and other rented facilities are often used for multifaith events. In all such contexts, several design principles are probably in place: (1) the boundaries of the commons and its legitimate users are clearly defined, (2) the rules of use match the local context, (5) users’ behavior is self-monitored, (6) a system of sanctions is in place for rules violations, (7) conflict-resolution mechanisms are easily accessible, and (8) large-scale commons use involves multiple layers of governance. But what about principles 3 (users have opportunities to modify the rules) and 4 (outside authorities respect the users’ right to create their own rules)?

In the review of studies of natural resource commons mentioned earlier, Cox, Arnold, and Tomás cite a critic who sees Ostrom’s design principles as “an interesting point of exit . . . [that] only partly explain the success of management institutions.” This critic goes on to say, “the real ‘glue’ that keeps an institution alive over time are the social mechanisms, i.e., trust, legitimacy, and transparency.”[94] This is not an either/or proposition. Adequate and clear design principles and social mechanisms of trust, legitimacy, and transparency are crucial to creating and maintaining an effective space-sharing arrangement by religious groups, no matter the context.

Feature Image by Tung Wong.



[1] My thanks to R. Stephen Warner and four anonymous reviewers of earlier drafts of this article. Also to students Alexandria Long and Jodi Keith of Trinity Lutheran Seminary (TLS) and Joel Wildermuth of Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO) for valuable research assistance, to Randy Litchfield (MTSO) for introducing me to commons management research, and to my deans Lisa Withrow (MTSO) and Brad Binau (TLS) for supporting my research. An early version of this article was presented in the Religion and the Social Sciences Section of the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Atlanta, November 24, 2015.

[2] See Indiana University’s Digital Library of the Commons (accessed January 9, 2016, and the four-volume series from Lexington Press, Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School of Political Economy.

[3] Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom, “Introduction: An Overview of the Knowledge Commons,” in Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice, ed. Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007), 4.

[4] Dick and Meinzen-Dick’s study of churches and one synagogue in the St. Louis area comes closest, but it focuses on congregational financial resources, not the use of congregational space per se. They cite only three sources from the commons management literature that deal with religion, none of which focuses on religious institutions (Laura Dick and Ruth Meinzen-Dick, “The Congregational Commons,” paper presented at the 13th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons, Hyderabad, India, January 10-14, 2011). Hess lists only five sources on the topic of “sacred commons” (Charlotte Hess, “Mapping the New Commons,” paper presented at the 12th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons, University of Gloucestershire, UK, July 14-18, 2008). The dearth of studies on religious institutions in commons management literature was confirmed by a search of the Digital Library of the Commons (accessed December 28, 2015,

[5] In presenting the eight design principles in this way, I draw upon both Ostrom’s original description in Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Actions (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 90, and the helpful summary provided by “Elinor Ostrom’s 8 Principles for Managing a Commons,” On the Commons, accessed January 9, 2016,

[6] Michael Cox, Gwen Arnold, and Sergio Villamayor Tomás, “A Review of Design Principles for Community-Based Natural Resource Management,” Ecology and Society 15.4 (2010): art. 38, accessed February 18, 2015,

[7] Ostrom, Governing the Commons, 89-90; Hess and Ostrom, “Introduction,” 7.

[8] Thomas Deitz, Elinor Ostrom, and Paul C. Stern, “The Struggle to Govern the Commons,” Science (n.s.) 302.5652 (December 12, 2003): 1907-12.

[9] Here I depart from Ostrom, for whom longevity is a defining characteristic of effective commons management arrangements: they are “long-enduring,” involving “the compliance of generation after generation of appropriators to the rules in use” (Governing the Commons, 90). Thus, successful commons management institutions are “robust, long-enduring,” in contrast to “failed systems” (Hess and Ostrom, “Introduction,” 7).

[10] Brett C. Hoover, The Shared Parish: Latinos, Anglos, and the Future of U.S. Catholicism (New York: New York University Press, 2014), 2.

[11] Ibid., 24.

[12] Ibid., 2.

[13] Ibid., 145.

[14] Ibid., 119-23, 209-12.

[15] Ibid., 64.

[16] Silvano M. Tomasi, Piety and Power: The Role of the Italian Parishes in the New York Metropolitan Area, 1880-1930 (New York: Center for Migration Studies, 1975), 76-81.

[17] Ibid., 77.

[18] Ibid., 80.

[19] Ibid., 77.

[20] Ana Maria Diaz-Stevens, Oxcart Catholicism on Fifth Avenue: The Impact of the Puerto Rican Migration upon the Archdiocese of New York (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1993), 111-16.

[21] Ibid., 114.

[22] Helen Rose Ebaugh and Janet Saltzman Chafetz, Religion and the New Immigrants: Continuities and Adaptations in Immigrant Congregations (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2000), 255-89.

[23] Ibid., 341.

[24] Ibid., 277.

[25] Ibid., 258.

[26] Ibid., 259-60.

[27] Hoover, The Shared Parish, 198-209, 220-21, 222-23.

[28] Stephen Dudek, “Building a Home for a Multicultural Parish: Lessons Learned,” New Theology Review 13 (2000): 37-45.

[29] Ibid., 37.

[30] Ibid., 38.

[31] Ibid., 39-40.

[32] Ibid., 42-43.

[33] Ibid., 44-45.

[34] Ibid., 41.

[35] Justin S., “Jewish Congregations of the Lower East Side,”, accessed January 6, 2016,

[36] Ibid.; “Congregational History,” Congregation Shearith Israel, accessed January 6, 2016,; “A History of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, 1825-2005,” Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, accessed January 6, 2016,

[37] Accessed January 6, 2016,; also, see “Congregation Shearith Israel,” Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture, accessed December 30, 2015,

[38] Charles Reznikoff and Uriah Z. Engelman, The Jews of Charleston: A History of an American Jewish Community (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1950), ix-x, 18, 57-58, 297 n. 183.

[39] Barnett A. Elzas, The Jews of South Carolina: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1905), 154-55.

[40] Ibid., 155-57.

[41] Robert Liberles, “Conflict over Reforms: The Case of Congregation Beth Elohim, Charleston, South Carolina,” in The American Synagogue: A Sanctuary Transformed, ed. Jack Wertheimer (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 286.

[42] Ibid., 288.

[43] Ibid., 288, 292.

[44] Ibid., 292; Elzas, The Jews of South Carolina, 159; Reznikoff and Engelman, The Jews of Charleston, 123-24.

[45] Pam DeFiglio, “New ‘Dual’ Synagogue One of Few in World for Both Ashkenazi, Sephardic Jews,” Skokie Patch, August 26, 2013, accessed January 4, 2016,

[46] Manya Brachear Pashman, “Skokie Synagogue Cultivates 2 Traditions under 1 Roof,” Chicago Tribune, September 5, 2013, accessed November 11, 2013,

[47] DeFiglio, “New ‘Dual’ Synagogue.”

[48] Mike Isaacs, “New Orthodox Synagogue Opens Doors in Skokie,” Chicago Sun-Times, August 20, 2013, accessed May 6, 2014,

[49] “KCT New Building Kiddush/Rental Policies,” Kehilat Chovevei Tzion, accessed January 5, 2016,

[50] Pashman, “Skokie Synagogue.”

[51] Fred Kniss and Paul D. Numrich, Sacred Assemblies and Civic Engagement: How Religion Matters for America’s Newest Immigrants (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007); Paul D. Numrich, “Emergence of the Rhetoric of a Unified Ummah among American Muslims: The Case of Metropolitan Chicago,” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 32 (2012): 451-53.

[52] “The Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago” (N.p., n.d.).

[53] Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division, Case No. 89CH04922, Memorandum in Support of Motion, filed January 19, 1990 (Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives, Chicago, Illinois), 13.

[54] “The Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago,” 18-19.

[55] Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division, Case Nos. 89CH04922, 90CH00311, Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Declaratory Order, unknown filing date (Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives, Chicago, Illinois), 5, 2.

[56] Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division, Case Nos. 89CH04922, 90CH00311, Plaintiffs’ Response to Defendants’ Motion, unknown filing date (Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives, Chicago, Illinois), 5.

[57] Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division, Case Nos. 90CH00311, 89CH04922, Order, filed June 19,1990 (Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives, Chicago, Illinois), 3, 4.

[58] Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division, Case No. 89CH04922, Answer to Motion for Interim Relief, filed March 23, 1992 (Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives, Chicago, Illinois).

[59] Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division, Case Nos. 89CH04922, 90CH311, Agreed Order, filed November 25, 1992 (Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives, Chicago, Illinois).

[60] Lyndsey Matthews, “The Latino Crescent: Latinos Make a Place for Themselves in Muslim America,” The Brooklyn Rail, September 4, 2009; Carmen Cusido, “Embracing Islam: Why Latinos Are Drawn to Muslim Beliefs, Culture,” New Jersey Monthly, February 8, 2010; Krystal DeJesus, “Being Latino and Muslim,”, December 4, 2010, accessed February 14 2015,; “Islam en Español: In Conversion, a New Identity,” New York Times, January 7, 2011, accessed February 14, 2015,

[61] Matthews, “The Latino Crescent.”

[62] “Dawa,” North Hudson Islamic Education Center, accessed January 7, 2016,

[63] Cusido, “Embracing Islam.”

[64] DeJesus, “Being Latino and Muslim.”

[65] Fred W. Clothey, Ritualizing on the Boundaries: Continuity and Innovation in the Tamil Diaspora (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2006), 39-43.

[66] Ibid., 41.

[67] Ibid., 41, 42.

[68] Ibid., 42.

[69] Steven W. Ramey, “Temples and Beyond: Varieties of Hindu Experience in the South,” in Religion in the Contemporary South: Changes, Continuities, and Contexts, ed. Corrie E. Norman and Don S. Armentrout (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2005), 207-24.

[70] Raymond Brady Williams, A Sacred Thread: Modern Transmissions of Hindu Traditions in India and Abroad (Chambersburg, PA: Anima, 1992), 238-40.

[71] Steven W. Ramey, “Hindu Bhavan,” accessed January 1, 2016,

[72] Ramey, “Temples and Beyond”; Ramey, “Hindu Bhavan.”

[73] Jain Study Center of North Carolina, accessed December 23, 2015,

[74] “HSNC Facility Rental Form and Contract,” Hindu Society of North Carolina, accessed January 2, 2016,

[75] Ramey, “Hindu Bhavan.”

[76] Ibid.

[77] Ramey, “Temples and Beyond,” 212.

[78] Ramey, “Hindu Bhavan.”

[79] See “Denominations,” Hartford Institute for Religion Research, accessed January 7, 2016,; “Judicatories,” Hartford Institute for Religion Research, accessed January 7, 2016,

[80] Cox, Arnold, and Tomás, “A Review of Design Principles.”

[81] Interestingly, Dick and Meinzen-Dick, “The Congregational Commons,” found that the Jewish synagogue of their study, followed by the Catholic parishes, were more successful than the Protestant churches in managing congregational financial resources, but the small sample size of their study precluded them from generalizing about these respective religious groups.

[82] Robert Wuthnow, Producing the Sacred: An Essay on Public Religion (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 44, 45.

[83] Karen J. Chai, “Competing for the Second Generation: English-Language Ministry at a Korean Protestant Church,” in Gatherings in Diaspora: Religious Communities and the New Immigration, ed. R. Stephen Warner and Judith G. Wittner (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998), 295-331; “Beyond ‘Strictness’ to Distinctiveness: Generational Transition in Korean Protestant Churches,” in Korean Americans and Their Religions: Pilgrims and Missionaries from a Different Shore, ed. Ho-Youn Kwon, Kwang Chung Kim, and R. Stephen Warner (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001), 157-80; Sharon Kim, A Faith of Our Own: Second-Generation Spirituality in Korean American Churches (Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2010), chap. 2.

[84] National Congregations Study, Cumulative Dataset (1998, 2006-2007, 2012), version 2, accessed December 26, 2015,

[85] Pyong Gap Min, “The Structure and Social Functions of Korean Immigrant Churches in the United States,” International Migration Review 26.4 (1992): 1378-79; Pyong Gap Min, “Religion and the Maintenance of Ethnicity among Immigrants: A Comparison of Indian Hindus and Korean Protestants,” in Immigrant Faiths: Transforming Religious Life in America, ed. Karen I. Leonard, Alex Stepick, Manuel A. Vasquez, and Jennifer Holdaway (Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2005), 119 n. 6.

[86] Christian Today, May 1, 2012, accessed July 9, 2014,

[87] Sam Dolnick, “Brooklyn Immigrant Congregations Clash,” New York Times, December 28, 2010.

[88] “Fourth Avenue UMC Moves Its Ministry to New Place,” The Vision, May 17, 2013, accessed February 26, 2015,

[89] Paul D. Numrich, The Faith Next Door: American Christians and Their New Religious Neighbors (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), chap. 4; Frank Vaisvilas, “Muslims, Christians Sharing Worship Space in Batavia Hope to Set Example,”, November 1, 2012, accessed May 13, 2014,

[90] Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, God beyond Borders: Interreligious Learning among Faith Communities (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2014), 84-85.

[91] Genesis of Ann Arbor, accessed January 6, 2016,; Kujawa-Holbrook, God beyond Borders, 89, 90.

[92] Joshua Dubler, Down in the Chapel: Religious Life in an American Prison (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013).

[93] “Employee Resource Groups,” accessed July 3, 2014,; “Employee Resource Groups Are Finding Support in ECD,” accessed July 3, 2014,; “Research Report: Ford Interfaith Network,” accessed July 3, 2014,

[94] Cox, Arnold, and Tomás, “A Review of Design Principles.”

By Paul D. Numrich
Paul D. Numrich is Professor of World Religions and Interreligious Relations at Methodist Theological School in Ohio and Trinity Lutheran Seminary.