Date of Graduation

Spring 2011


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

John Schmalzbauer


Pentecostalism, expressive worship, contemporary music, the body, kinetic motion, trance, cognition, Assembly of God, ethnography

Subject Categories



One prominent characteristic of historic Pentecostal praxis is lively, ecstatic music. After tracing the roots of Pentecostal music and its developments up to the present, this study investigates the production and experience of contemporary worship in Evangel Temple Christian Center, an Assemblies of God congregation in Springfield, Missouri. Using ethnographic interviews and months of detailed field observations, this study traces the internal dynamics of musical expression in terms of evident tensions such as the balance between processes of institutionalization with ecstatic charismatic experiences. Combining research on music, cognition, and materialist theories with firsthand ethnographic data, problematic conceptions of the human body arise. The Pentecostal body is both restrained and expressive, distrusted and celebrated. Evangel Temple is balanced carefully between processes of formalization and charismatic praxis, and due to its implementation of a range of sacred music genres, it caters to all age groups and retains vitality and vibrancy.


© Travis Warren Cooper

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