In August 2018, Religious Studies associate professor Annie Blazer presented new research at the meeting of the International Society for Media, Religion, and Culture in Boulder, Colorado. Her research presentation was entitled “Religion, Media, and Racial Reconciliation in Richmond, Virginia.” It detailed research findings from Blazer’s ongoing anthropological research on the effects of rapid gentrification on historic black churches.
The paper focused on East End Fellowship, a racially integrated evangelical group in Richmond, and highlighted the role of social and new media in their promotion of racial reconciliation. Blazer argued that the group’s use of media, and particularly song-writing, has allowed them to successfully bridge white evangelical and black evangelical approaches to worship, community, and race relations.
This case study matters because it stands in stark contrast to most congregations in the U.S. that either do not prioritize racial integration or have not been able to racially integrate. Blazer is continuing anthropological research on this topic and has been accepted to present at the Ninth International Conference on Religion & Spirituality in Society at the University of Granada, Spain in April 2019.