“… inter-culturally by, churches elsewhere affected by these industries? How can national churches and ecumenical bodies support the local churches? ”
This project will study ELCA churches in Western North Dakota for two years to explore the impact upon local congregations of the rapid social and economic changes that have come with the hydraulic fracking industry. These impacts include extensive in-migration, economic growth and increased inequality, pressure upon social and physical resources, services and infrastructures, and environmental degradation. This study will research the impact of these changes upon the social structure of these congregations, as well as explore their ecclesiology and sense of mission in relation to migrants and the larger community. Preliminary research indicates that congregations have been deeply affected by these changes internally. Moreover, while many churches have extended themselves through social service, they face challenges in two areas, namely eccesiologically how to assimilate migrants within their congregations, and theologically how to respond to the social, economic, and environmental challenges which the extraction industry poses to the larger community. To support these churches comparative research will be conducted among local congregations in Western North Dakota. Moreover, as churches and communities all around the world are impacted by these globally operating industries, a global perspective is also necessary for churches to be able to support each other inter-culturally. Therefore this project will provide an inter-cultural theological contribution to North Dakotan churches through the cross-cultural comparison with ELCSA Lutheran congregations in South Africa that are also deeply impacted by the extraction industries.