Thursday, August 29, 2013

The prayer policy: Religious informational resources

The measures reportedly being adopted by the City of League City with respect to the pre-Council meeting prayers conform to common sense except for one important point: 
  • It would make no sense to limit the outreach to congregations situated within League City
  • It would make better sense to extend the outreach to congregations most commonly attended by League City residents (i.e., voters).
The reason for this is simple.  We are not Sugar Land.  
Sugar Land / West Side is an example of a largely-suburban area that has had the time to establish a diversity of religious congregations that reflects their residential base.  League City, in stark contrast, is still at the more primitive developmental stage of attracting restaurants.  Here's a Googlegrab showing reported Hindu temples across the southern half of greater Houston (and Google tends to significantly under-report religious institutions).
League City is a bedroom community, largely a collection of residential subdivisions that exploded into being within just the past few years.  This city has not yet had time to mature and develop a full expected range of social institutions, including religious congregations.  The point of the new prayer measure is to be inclusionary, which is exactly what needs to be done (and which I applaud).   But that can't happen unless the City takes into account those extra-territorial venues which its residents have no choice but to attend given the lack of them here in newbieville.

From Wikipedia
So League City needs to compile a reference guide that includes such places.  I know of one existing public religious database for this area, but it's based on voluntary submission of information and it is limited to Galveston County, whereas League City is on the border of the behemoth Harris County with all of its additional diversity.  And it is to Harris County that many of our religious residents go. 
The public list to which I'm referring is published every Saturday in Galveston County Daily News

Low-res screengrab from the August 24, 2013 e-edition. 
I'm going to compile a list of the more prominent institutions which include those that are located a short distance outside of our city limits, but which I know from experience draw visible portions of their congregations from within League City.  Obviously this list will be incomplete and limited by my own social exposures to the various groups.  By all means, comment below or send me emails so that I can continue to flesh this out with appropriate revisions and updates. 

CHRISTIAN (all branches)
  • Too numerous to list in this space.  Refer to the GCDN source given above.
Nice crisp diagram from Wikipedia

  • The closest major venue at this time is likely Meenakshi Temple in nearby Pearland. 
  • Sugar Land, with its 35% Asian population, currently hosts the majority of greater Houston's Hindu facilities. 
  • Empty Field Zendo draws from all over Clear Lake / Galveston County and currently meets in League City.  This is primarily a western convert group. 
  • Until a few months ago, the Diamond Way congregation was meeting at a location on Dakota Avenue in League City, but they outgrew their facilities and had to move to a larger commercial location on NASA Road 1.  This is also largely a western convert group. 
  • The closest and most prominent ethnic (Vietnamese) facility is the spectacular Chua Linh Son which is alternately described as being in Santa Fe or Dickinson.  Interesting factoid:  The number of Vietnamese in Houston has been increasing at break-neck speed, particularly with recent migration from California.  About 50% of the Vietnamese community self-identifies as Buddhist. 
  • Dharma Spring Temple is located in Pearland just over its municipal border with Friendswood, and draws congregants from League City.  The Abbot of this temple frequents the Clear Lake area, sometimes leading meditation groups at local venues, including UH Clear Lake.  This is a rare blended western convert and ethnic temple. 
Linh Son is a large compound on FM 646 a bit south of its intersection with FM 517.  Dharma Spring is also situated on a large tract of land and is poised for intensification of its development.   

Screengrabbed from Googlemaps. 
  • The Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church is a vibrant congregation encompassing approximately four hundred pledged members plus their families as well as semi-pledged friends of the church.  A significant percentage of the congregation resides in League City.  Clear Lake is a southern stronghold of sorts for UU-ism, owing to its preponderance of intellectual residents whose formal educations are in the natural sciences (drawn by associations with Johnson Space Center, UTMB, UHCLC, and other local institutions).   
  • There is also the Galveston UU Fellowship which I have heard is attended by some north-county-ers, particularly former islanders who chose to move inland following Hurricane Ike but who maintain ties to the island. 
As I mentioned above, please email me or comment below if you believe other local venues (particularly those that aren't listed in other sources such as GCDN) deserve a place in this list. 

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