Accessibility and Role of Churches Within Merced Neighborhoods
Alexandra M. Stone-Macias, Anais Guillem, David Torres-Rouff, PhD
While collecting data on the number of public service buildings in Merced, approximately 59 churches were identified in Merced via Google Maps search results. Comparatively, 24 schools and 18 community clinics were also counted using Google Maps, suggesting a predominance of churches within the city of Merced. This study seeks to investigate the role of churches in Merced neighborhoods through resident attitudes on the accessibility of churches and the memories attached to these churches. Neighborhood delineation within this study uses resident perceptions and mental mapping. Resident attitudes regarding neighborhood boundaries, the proximity of public service buildings in relation to neighborhoods, and the experiences and memories attached to churches in Merced are collected using interviews and examined using thematic coding analysis. By examining the role of churches in Merced’s community and the significance behind their predominance, it is possible to not only examine how these factors contribute to Merced’s social identity, but future steps can be taken to bridge the gap between the City of Merced and UC Merced through church-based programs or activities.
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