A powerful portrait of inner-city faith and action
Amidst a game room, transient hotel, car wash, and unpaved parking lot, members of the First Corinthians Missionary Baptist Church worship in a rickety structure abandoned during Chicago's race riots. In a vivid participant-observer study of this congregation, Frances Kostarelos ushers readers into its Sunday services, committee meetings, and prayer meetings and into the homes of its members. Filled with photographs and conversations with parishioners, her portrait sheds light on a remarkably little understood social formation that shapes the lives of millions of inner-city African Americans—the evangelical storefront church.
Kostarelos illumines the nature, role, and function of religion in this congregation and in the African American community at large. Squarely contradicting social critics who characterize the storefront church as a capitulation to white economic power tructures or as an otherworldly escape from the ghetto, she portrays the institution as the legacy of a 300-year struggle against oppression, the embodiment of solidarity among working-class and poverty-stricken African Americans, and a viable vehicle for shaping African-American identity and collective action in the face of inner-city decline.
Frances Kostarelos was born in Greece and grew up in Chicago. She holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago and teaches at Columbia College Chicago.