Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sociology



First Advisor

Calvin B. Peters


This study is an ethnosemantic investigation of a local Pentecostal church. The investigation focused on how the members of the congregation view the nature of their religious commitment. This insider's perception , otherwise referred to as the private face of religiosity, was preserved by employing a research tool known as the ethnosemantic interview. The ethnosemantic approach was especially suited here since its main objective was to discover and describe a cultural system in terms which preserved the insider's point of view. The method avoided the assumption of what was to be considered relevant by making a verbatim record of what an insider said about his/her cultural scene. In addition to the ethnosemantic investigation, participant observation and a short mail questionnaire were employed in the study. These research methods served as cross-checks of and supplements to the interview data.

Aside from investigating a local Pentecostal group's view of the nature of their religious commitment, this study also examined the phenomenon throughout the histories of the Pentecostal movement in general and in the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee, in particular. (The latter represents the Pentecostal denomination with which the studied congregation is affiliated.) In this examination, a sociological scheme of the nature of religious commitment was utilized and proved successful in organizing the historical material. The applicability of the sociological scheme to this public face of religiosity was not evident when an attempt was made to apply the same scheme to the private face of religiosity. It was found that the local Pentecostal congregation had its own conceptual scheme of the nature of their religious commitment which differed substantially from the standard sociological view.



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