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Caring Cultures
How Congregations Respond to the Sick

By Susan J. Dunlap

Caring Cultures
Paperback, 260 pages $29.95
Published: 1st August 2009
ISBN: 9781932792874
Format: 8.5in x 5.5in

Subjects: All Practical Theology, All Religious Studies, Care & Counseling

Skilled pastoral caregiving, Susan Dunlap argues, requires an understanding of the culture of the local congregation where it is practiced. An engaging example par excellence, Caring Cultures looks closely at three very different congregations’ responses to the body in times of illness: an African American congregation in the Apostolic Holiness tradition; a Euro-American mainstream Protestant church; and the Latino members in a Roman Catholic parish.

With vivid examples drawn from the author’s interviews and observations, this beautifully written book shows how each congregation has developed divergent ways of thinking about the body, habits of responding to it, and understandings of God’s response to the body’s pain or peril. The author offers unusually rich descriptions of care-giving as it is displayed in these three congregations, integrating both well-explained theory and moving personal stories.

Chapter 1:  Introduction

Chapter 2:  Healing Waters Apostolic Holiness Church

Chapter 3:  Healing Waters’ Beliefs-Practices

Chapter 4:  First Downtown Church

Chapter 5:  First Downtown Church’s Beliefs-Practices

Chapter 6:  Our Lady of Durham

Chapter 7:  Our Lady of Durham’s Beliefs-Practices

Chapter 8:  A Practical Theology of Care for the Sick


“The depth and attentiveness of Dunlap’s research and the compassion and beauty of her writing, make this book important reading.”

—Dorothy C. Bass, Director, Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith

“A challenging, hopeful book. Dunlap’s insights may very well help us set right much that is wrong with today’s care."

—Will Willimon, Bishop, the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church

"Weaving theological, sociological, psychological, and pastoral perspectives together articulately and sensitively in her analysis of the insights gained of the ways these churches dealt with illness, Dunlap has modeled very well the ways in which congregational studies can yield fruit, not just for pastors and congregations, but for researchers across the disciplines."

Pneuma 32 (2010)

Susan J. Dunlap (Ph.D. Princeton Theological Seminary) is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology, Duke Divinity School.  She lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Publication Details:

 Paperback , 260 pages
 8.5in x 5.5in

 Baylor University Press

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