loren Eric Swanson: March 2007

Saturday, March 31, 2007

What a week!

A week ago I was picking my mom up from the hospital--Nothing too serious, but it required an overnight stay. I drove directly from the Sacramento Airport to the hospital to get Mom. Of course she wanted to stay through lunch. "No sense letting all that good food go to waste!" As a whole Mom and Dad are doing great. Dad's speech continues to improve and they are always energetic and full of life. From Stockton I drove to San Jose and hooked up with Don Wilcox for our drive to Treebones Resort (www.treebonesresort.com) near Gorda on the Big Sur Coast. This was the third meeting of my last leadership community for (Southern California) externally focused churches. As usual, John Handy (former senior VP for Mattel Toys) was spectacular in his presentations on innovation. Got back Thursday night and was supposed to fly to East Asia yesterday but I mistook 6am for 6pm and missed my flight so left today instead. Am currently at the SFO international terminal awaiting my flight. It's a long one and I'm in coach all the way.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Serendipitious Discovery of $62 Million Dollars

For the past two days I've retreated to the cabin in the woods to make progress on my dissertation. During this time I have been working on the penultimate chapter of the dissertation where research findings are graphed, charted and analyzed. Gary Dungan, my personal assistant at Leadership Network who refers to himself as a SHERPA (Servant-hearted, enthusiastic, resourceful personal assistant), has been of incredible help transforming quantitative data into pie charts and graphs.

One of my best discovery is that the thirty-three churches in my study, which came from the first three Externally Focused Leadership Communities, together, since 2003 have given
3,463,003 hours of service to the community, which translates to an economic value of $62,268,466! Amazing isn't it?

Monday, March 19, 2007

North Park College

This weekend I've been in the Chicago area speaking at a Externally Focused Conference. In our family photo album is a picture of my dad peering out through the gates of North Park College in Chicago (It has since been changed to North Park University). So yesterday I took a short drive to see how the campus looks. It's a great school with Swedish Covenant roots and an outstanding Swedish restaurant right across the street from what is now Old Main. Of course I stopped in for some Swedish Pandcakes and lingenberries. Tre Kroner is the name of the restaurant. A following is an online review:
Tre Kroner (Three Crowns in Swedish - check out their flag) is a small restaurant sitting in the incredibly diverse North Park neighborhood of North-Central Chicago. Walking in that neighborhood, you are apt to pass people of the over 20 language groups represented in only a few blocks. The restaurants within a few blocks of Tre Kroner reflect this as well - Chinese, Mexican, Ecuadorian, and Middle-Eastern cuisine are within 100 yds of the door (the Thai restaurant just closed, unfortunately). Across from North Park University and Theological Seminary (run by the Evangelical Covenant Church, a Swedish-descended denomination), Tre Kroner provides meals with a scandanavian flavor, mostly Swedish, but with a few Norwegian flares to round the pot. It is a mandatory item for nearly every overnight visit of mine to Chicago. Reservations are accepted for dinner, but I never make them, as the wait is usually short for a table. Lunchtime is a different story. Tastefull light jazz or big-band music plays quietly in the background. HOURS Tuesday-Saturday 7:00am-10:00pm. Sun 9:00am- 3:00pm LAYOUT Walking through the doors, your first impression is how small the restaurant is. On warm days, the line for tables often spills into the sidewalk. On cold Chicago days, a walk by the window will reveal whether there is any room to stand inside (next to tables) - if not, you may want to try again later. Two moderately-sized tables sit in the middle of the small room, each able to hold 6 people. The rest of the tables are for couples (those by the streetside window can seat 4 in a pinch) and line the walls. Some of the tables are quite cramped, and the tables themselves are close enough to make the setting "intimate" with those other than your planned dinner companions. DECOR The most apparent addition to the decor is the whole-wall mural of a pastoral setting with somewhat goofy-looking fairy tale creatures playing marbles. Yes, this sounds strange, and it is. But it somehow seems to fit with the decor. The rest of the walls are tastefully decorated with Scandanavian flags, pictures and posters. Tables are covered with linens with paper over-covers which are replaced between diners. A small bud vase and candle holder are on each table. The coffee/juice/cash register service area, complete with an espresso-cappuccino machine, is a cutout in one wall, decorated to look like a dark wood gazebo. SERVICE If the setting makes you think that you are in for a diner-style meal, the service will erase that thought immediately. Servers are well-trained, polite, attentive, and professional. The service is well above average, with attention to the rules of ettiquette above that of "fancier" restaurants. You don't have to worry about your main course being stacked on top of your half-finished soup in a rush for assembly-line efficiency, nor will a server hover over your table waiting for you to present payment for the bill. However, the servers are watchful, and a subtle glance will bring quick eye contact and immediate response. MEALS Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner are available through the week, with Brunch on Sundays. My favorites for Breakfast are their quiches, which change from day to day, but usually include a vegetable and a seafood selection at a minimum. Swedish pancakes and potato pancakes with ligonberry are another favorite with those I have met at the restaurant. Meusli, fruit, and other lighter fare are available. Expect to finish a good breakfast, including a stout espresso for about $10. Lunch and dinner offer similar menus and also vary from day to day depending on what is available at market. Quiche is usually available for lunch as well as breakfast. For dinner, I usually go full-hog" with several courses. Hearty breads, coarse grain crackers, and light swedish wafers with cheese spreads help you bide your time over conversation as you await your meal. Soups vary from day to day, and their thick vegetable offerings are among my favorites. If you wish for a salad, try their berry vinaigrette. The salmon dishes they prepare are always wonderful, with imaginative sauces that compliment rather than smother. Their fillets are also well-performed and again sauces are a high point. Portions are sufficient, not overwhelming. Presentation is a point of pride, and dishes are usually accompanied by a comfortable (if not huge) portion of vegetables such as asparagus arranged in a decorative manner. For non-meat eaters, there are several vegetarian offerings. Homemade berry pies and a cappuccino are my favorite finishing touches. I usually walk from lunch in the $10-12 range, and dinner will run me $20-30 with tip. One downside is that they don't have a liquor license, but they also don't charge you a corking fee if you bring your own bottle of wine.Recommended:Yes

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Little Cabin in the Woods--Day 3

Just finishing up my third sequestered day in this beautiful 500 sf cabin near Estes Park. Today I submitted the first draft of four chapters of my required seven chapters so I am making some progress. The cabin is a great environment for contemplation and concentrated work. Yesterday, something caught my eye and I looked out the window to see two deer grazing a few feet from me. (Look closely at the picture)Last night I put my coat on and sat out on the deck and stared at the sky that sparkled with majesty. "The heavens declare the glory of God." The cabin has a very comfortable Murphy bed and a small wood stove to take the edge off the morning and evening chill. I brought my Bose IPod deck so can listen to tunes when I choose. At the moment I'm listening to Jeckyl and Hyde--a play Andy, Jeff and I saw on Broadway several years ago. Brings back good memories of being in New York! I do miss Liz but can I say if one is to be alone, this is the place to be. I'll enclose a couple of pictures that capture my experience. I'll spend one more full day here tomorrow before going to Wheaton Illinois on Friday.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Small Hut in a Lonesome Spot

Yesterday I drove up to Estes Park for a four-day study retreat where I hope to make some serious progress on my dissertation. Through the kindness and generosity of a dear friend, I'm staying in a one room cabin with a Murphy bed --and its a great environment for concentrated study. The setting is beautiful. I look at the window to see the mountains and trees and step out on the deck to smell the pine trees and feel and take in the fresh, clean air. Being here reminds me a bit of St. Manchan's prayer. He asks for a simple hut but then keeps adding to his request. Like Manchan, I have requested Internet access, Starbucks coffee, etc. It's worth the read...

St. Manchan of Offaly's Poem
(Composed Circa 450-550 A.D.)

Grant me sweet Christ the grace to find---
Son of the Living God!---
A small hut in a lonesome spot
To make it my abode.

A little pool but very clear
To stand beside the place
Where all men's sins are washed away
By sanctifying grace.

A pleasant woodland all about
To shield it from the wind
And make a home for singing birds
Before it and behind.

A southern aspect for the heat
A stream along its foot,
A smooth green lawn with rich topsoil
Propitious to all fruit.

My choice of men to live with me
And pray to God as well;
Quiet men of humble mind---
Their number I shall tell.

Four files of three or three of four
To give the psalter forth;
Six to pray by the south church wall
And six along the north.

Two by two my dozen friends---
To tell the number right---
Praying with me to move the King
Who gives the sun its light.

A lovely church, a home for God
Bedecked with linen fine,
Where over the white Gospel page
The Gospel candles shine.

A little house where all may dwell
And body's care be sought,
Where none shows lust or arrogance,
None thinks an evil thought.

And all I ask for housekeeping
I get and pay no fees,
Leeks from the garden, poultry, game,
Salmon and trout and bees.

My share of clothing and of food,
From the King of fairest face,
And I to sit at times alone,
And pray in every place.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Wells not Walls

This morning Jay Williams sent me this picture from an AIDS walk folks from his church participated in a few months ago. One of the working principles of externally focused churches is that they partner with those who care about what you care about. The people of First Evangelical Free Church care about people infected with and dying from AIDS...and so do a lot of others. (Click on the picture for a better visual)

In 1978 Paul Hiebert of Fuller Theological Seminary developed a construct that help us think about who we can and cannot align ourselves with. Hiebert makes the distinction between a “bounded set” and a “centered set.” Picture a bounded set as circle. Inside the circle are the distinctive beliefs and practices of those inside the circle. It is this set of distinctive beliefs that determine who is in the group and who is outside the group. Traditionally, this is how denominations have defined themselves—by how they are different from everyone else. The major question of those in the bounded set is, “Are you one of us?”

A “centered set,” on the other hand, consists of persons who share a common affection, interest, pursuit or allegiance to someone or something. The centered set can be depicted as a dot on a sheet of paper without any boundary determining who is “in” or who is “out.” Some people may be less passionate or committed than others but they are all directing themselves toward the same center. The major question of those of the centered set is, “Do you care about what I care about?”

Recently, a couple of Aussies came up with a good illustration of the difference between a bounded set and a centered set. They write,
In some farming communities, the farmers might build fences around their properties to keep their livestock in and the livestock of neighboring farms out. This is a bounded set…. In our home in Australia…ranches are so vast that fences are superfluous. Under these conditions a farmer has to sink a bore and create a well, a precious water supply in the Outback. It is assumed that livestock, though they will stray, will never roam too far from the well, lest they die. This is a centered set.[i]

Churches that are transforming their communities think in terms of sinking wells rather than building walls. A “well” is what people in the community mutually care about. Churches that are transforming communities don’t divide over their differences but unite with other churches and organizations around their common love for the community. It’s about the well not about the wall.
[i] The Shaping of Things to Come, by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 2004, p.47

Monday, March 05, 2007

Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development

Myers, Bryant L. Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1999.

I use the term transformational development to reflect my concern for seeking positive change in the whole of human life materially, socially, and spiritually. The adjective transformational is used to remind us that human progress is not inevitable; it takes hard work, and there is an adversary who works against our desire to enhance life. True human development involves choices, setting aside that which is not for life in us and our community while actively seeking and supporting all that is for life. This requires that we say no to some things in order to say yes to what really matters. Transformation implies changing our choices. P. 3

I understand Christian witness to include the declaration of the gospel by life, word, and deed. By life I refer to the fact that Christians are the message. We are the sixty-seventh book of the Bible. People read our live, our action and our words and believe they know what being a Christian means. By word I refer to the need to say what the gospel story is and invite others to make it their story. By deed I refer to the fact that the Christian faith, at its best, is an active faith, engaged with the world and seeking to make it more for life and for the enjoyment of life. P. 4

In the spiritual realm, the critical question is, Whose God is the true God?, and the answer is an idea. This frame allows us to reduce the gospel message to truth in the form of propositions, even a set of “spiritual laws.” Christian witness is reduced to works and speaking.
At the level of the physical world, the question is, What works? The answer comes in the form of effective methods and good technology. Deeds and doing are the real thing. We then reduce the gospel message and evangelism to working for justice or saving God’s creation. P. 9

Therefore, in dealing with the gospel message, we cannot separate word, deed, and sign without truncating our message. Words clarify the meaning of deeds. Deeds verify the meaning of words. Most critically, signs announce the presence and power of One who is radically other and who is both the true source of all good deeds and the author of the only worlds that have life it is fullest. P 10

The poor are poor largely because they live in networks of relationships that do not work for their well-being. Their relationships with others are often oppressive and disempowering as a result of the non-poor playing god in the lives of the poor. Their relationships within themselves is diminished and debilitated as a result of the grind of poverty and the feeling of permanent powerlessness… Poverty is the whole family of our relationships that are not all they can be. P. 13

The best of human futures lies in the direction of the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ as the person who offers the way to become part of God’s kingdom. Because poverty is fundamentally relational, I then articulate the twin goals of transformational development as changed people and just and peaceful relationships. By “changed people” I mean people who have discovered their true identity as children of God and who have recovered their true identity as children of God and who have recovered their true vocation as faithful and productive stewards of gifts from God for the well-being of all. P.14
I begin by the reiteration the basic affirmation that the ownership of the development process lies with the people themselves. P. 15

Once again the dwelling place of God is men and women (Rv21:3). There are no more tears, or death, or crying, or pain, nor is there famine or drought (Rv 7:16, 21:4). Everything is made new—the people and their city. There is no church in this new Jerusalem because it is no longer needed; God and the Lamb live among the people (Rv 21:22). The mission of the church as a “history-making force” (Newbigin 1989, 129) is completed. The kingdom of God stands alone at the end of time. It is the final reality; all other kingdoms have passed away.
The nations now walk by the light of the glory of God sone forth by the son…the measures of value are turned upside down. God, the most valuable commodity in the world, the commodity of greed and violence, is so common that it is used to pave the streets. The foundations of the city are made with precious stones (Rv 21:20-21), because we have a new understanding of what is valuable. These gemstones re simply beautiful, no longer objects of greed in the eyes of humankind. P.42

Abundant life means no limits to love, no limits to justice, no limits to peach (Hall 1985, 99). Anything that is for life, that enhances life, or that celebrates life is pointing toward the kingdom. Africans pray “life as well as the means to make life worth living” (Okorocha 1994, 79).

Transformation begins with a changed person. All other transformational frontiers are now more easily breached in a more comprehensive way with a greater hope of being sustainable. P 117

The Newer Deal: Social Work and Religion in Partnership

Cnaan, Ram A. with Robert J. Wineburg and Stephanie C. Boddie. The Newer Deal: Social Work and Religion in Partnership. New York, New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

Congregations are groups of persons who voluntarily band together for religious purposes and who share an identity with one another. These groups of people usually own a property where they periodically meet and observe a theological doctrine that to some extent guides their governance and worship practices (Garland 1997) p. 28

In 1826 Joseph Tuckerman, a Unitarian clergyman from Boston, initiated “ministry-at-large” in response to the devastating economic depression of 1819. He proposed that the church should help needy families, regardless of their religious affiliations—a revolutionary idea at the time. P. 117

Leonard Bacon summarized the concept of religious-based service in a sermon titled “The Christian Doctrine of Stewardship in Respect to Property,” which he presented at the Young Men’s Benevolent Society in New haven in 1832. In this sermon, which was later published and widely circulated, he said that people must actively seek out ays to do what God expects of them. Such actions must extend to all aspects of life and link voluntary service and personal philanthropy as a means of doing God’s will. Bacon’s thinking on the role of religion and the voluntary organizations in social welfare ran counter to that of the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian camps. Yet for many of his day, it was Bacon who best answered the moral question “Lord, what wilt though have me do?” and the answer he gave was “the BUSINESS OF DOING GOOD” [sic]. Thus, Bacon’s directive sparked the rise of church-affiliated civic associations that sought to spread the Word of the Lord and do good for others. In many ways, Bacon laid the moral ground for religious-based philanthropy that reflected the donor’s religious beliefs. P 118

Oates (1995) noted that in 1797 Philadelphia Catholic parishioners met to organize an orphanage for children whose parents had died following an outbreak of yellow fever. By 1806 they had established the Roman Catholic Society of St. Joseph for the Maintenance and Education of Orphans to support the St. Joseph Orphan Asylum and hired a matron as manager. In New York, in the mid-1830s, Bishop John Dubios ordered that all church collections on Christmas Day go to the care of orphans. In 1838 he allocated all collections on Easter Sunday to theat purpose as well. These Collections were the forerunners of the Campaign for Human Development, which annually distributes some $50 million to community-based social services that address poverty and empowerment. P. 119

In 1817 the New York Society for the Prevention of Pauperism was formed. Between 1818 and 1824 this society published annual reports that traced the origins of pauperism. Ironically, among the causes of poverty, the last one of a list of ten was the numerous charitable institutions of the city. P. 119

The case of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia illustrates the development of welfare under congregational auspices. In 1839 women in the congregation formed the Evangelical Sewing Society to sew for the poor. In 1873 the same congregation established the Baptist Orphnage, later known as Baptist Children’s Services. A few years later, the congregation established the Philadelphia Home for Incurables…Another Baptist congregation in Philadelphia active at the time was the Baptist Temple, headed by Russell H. Conwell. Along with an impressive array of social services, in1884 Conwell established a night school for working people so that those from a lower economic status could have an opportunity to advance their social and occupational standing in society. Conwell’s night school was to become Temple University, one of the larges universities in Philadelphia. P. 120

One group that was highly influential in the Social Gospel movement was the Salvation Army. In 1890 General Booth published In Darkest England, in which he called for members of the Salvation Army to reach out to the poorest people in society. He argued that the moral improvement of the poor was dependent upon the amelioration of their material conditions and well-being. The overt presence of the army’s religious and social soldiers made its campaign visible and popularized the responsibility of religious people to help others in need. The saying, “No place was forsaken for the Army, no man or woman sunk so low as to be excluded from God’s bounty” best represents this denomination’s social perspective. Because all are God’s creatures, the Salvation Army made no distinction between the worthy and the unworthy poor. P 123

While delivery of social services through the churches had worked in London and in Glasgow, it did not work for America’s COSs [Charity Organization Societies] because of the nation’s religious and ethnic pluralism. This movement of service delivery away from the churches presaged an even greater change that was to occur in the twentieth century: the secularization of social welfare, which occurred partly because of the contributions of Mary Richmond and the philosophy of the Charity Organization Societies (COSs). Lubove (1965) noted that “Charity Organization was the creation of middle-class Protestant Americans, denouncing rigid sectarianism in charitable affairs, but inspired by an evangelical sense of mission” (p. 16) 124

A review of over 35,000 abstracts written between 1977 and 1997 for social workers 220 sources mentioned the term “religion.” “A close review of Social Work Abstracts failed to identify a single source that dealt with the religious-based social service organization as a service provider and/or a partner for social work. Nor was there any mention of religious-based social services that complement the services provided by the state, foundations, residents’ associations, and academic disciplines.” P. 51 Similar patterns were found at papers presented at academic conferences, in textbooks, course outlines and encyclopedias of social work.

The Invisible Caring Hand: American Congregations and the Provision of Welfare

Cnaan, Ram A. with Stephanie C. Bodie, Femida handy, Gaynor Yancy, and Richard Schneider.The Invisible Caring Hand: American Congregations and the Provision of Welfare. New York, New York; New York University Press, 2002

“Thus, the parable of the Good Samaritan is the most common metaphor for the quality of faith-based care.” P. 5

No government can force congregations and religious groups to help the needy. Only the invisible caring motivation that is partly normative, partly religious and uniquely American can describe the work of the religious congregations in ameliorating the pain, suffering, and poverty of millions. P.8

It is estimated that there are more than 350,000 local religious congregations in the United States. They are thus the most common and widespread institution in our society. It is also estimated that more than half the population holds active membership in a local religious congregation (Finke & Stark, 1986)[1] p. 9

As we demonstrate, congregational involvement in a social service delivery way is a phenomenon unique to the United States that began only 150 years ago. While religious organizations—the Church with a capital C—has sponsored many social programs throughout the world, congregation have historically been reluctant to become involved in social programs. After all, the primary mission of a congregation is to provide a religious framework and communal site for worshiping. Its second mission is to sustain the congregation and to guarantee resources sufficient to carry out its primary mission. Social services delivery can come only after these two missions are achieved.
It was only when church and state separated (official disestablishment) that congregations sought to become a more meaningful part of the lives of their members. The result was innovation and public involvement. This change coincided with massive immigration and urbanization and a dramatic increase in social problems, as well as a threat to the Protestant hegemony. Congregations committed themselves to helping the newcomers, hoping to transform them and thus to attract new members to te denomination, if not the congregation. Non-Protestant groups, especially Jews and Catholics, were afraid of losing members and developed parallel services. P. 10-11

This is the first study of the scope, nature, dynamics and variability of congregational social services congregation. We discovered that belonging to a congregation is a powerful prosocial experience, one that overshadows even religious beliefs. Indeed we found that the group dynamics of belonging to a “moral community” brings people to care for others much more than “individual religious beliefs.” P. 11

Members of all religious congregations, regardless of their specific faith traditions, set out to influence their communities by performing activities that add to the quality of life in the community. These activities can be subsumed under the term social ministry… p. 58

One study, of about 1,000 congregations in Californian, found that each and every one of them was engaged in at least one form of social service provision (Silverman, 2000)[2][3] (P 62)

We believe that methodology accounts for the difference in findings between Chaves’s congregations and our own. P. 62

What is evident is that the nation’s congregations are serving in some cases as the first line of the last frontier of social care for those desperate for something to eat, a safe place to sleep, or care for their children. P. 65

Congregations are, as a rule, highly involved in service delivery that helps people solve personal problems and meet material needs. They are less involved in efforts to bring about social and political change. P. 69 Churches find it that it is hard to change the environment but one can change individuals—Illustration of Mariners redefining goals at Mariners.

What the examples of homeless shelters and soup kitchen teach us is that when congregations cannot provide a costly and complex program on their own, they may collaborate with or support others in the delivery of such a program. The power of congregational collaboration is to assist other providers or to enrich the community network of support is a topic we have only started to unravel and that requires further research. P. 71

A third of day care in the United States is housed in congregational properties. This makes the religious community the largest provider/host of day care in the country… p. 72 (Lindner, Mattis, & Rogers, 1983; Trost, 1988). Lindner, E. W., Mattis, M.C., & Rogers, J.R. (1983). When churches mind the children: A study of day care in local parishes. Ypsilanti, MI: High Scope Press
Trost, C. (1988, August 29). Debate over day-care bill spurs odd alliances and raises issue of church-state separation. Wall Street Journal, p. 32.

On the basis of our study of 251 congregations, we identified several characteristics of congregational involvement. First, congregations, with few exceptions, provide some form of social and community service delivery. There services range from large, formal programs to small, informal services. Second, the area most frequently addressed by congregations are services that benefit children, the elderly, the poor and the homeless, as well as the community at large. P. 79

One way to understand congregational involvement in social and community services provision is to imagine the United States without congregations. Without congregations, one-third of the children now in day care centers would have no place to go. Most scout troops and twelve-step groups would have no meting place. Many food cupboards, soup kitchens and homeless shelters would disappear, leaving a large number of people hungry and on the streets. New immigrants and refugees would lose their strongest supporters and their anchor as they move into mainstream American life. Numerous old and sick people would be neglected, and the waiting list for institutionalized care would double. The list goes on and on, underscoring the important fact that the absence of congregations in the United States would create a significant social void, along with the loss of the religious, spiritual, and social support provided by congregations. P. 81

…congregations are a major force in sustaining the quality of life in the community and that they are essential for social stability in urban neighborhoods. P. 82

We then assess the fiscal contribution of congregations to social services by assigning monetary replacement value to the services and financial support provided by the 251 congregations in our study. First, we estimate the percentage of the annual congregational budget allotted to social services programs. We then assess the imputed economic value of the 1,005 programs reported in our study, that is, how much it would cost to replace a faith-based service with a similar secular social service. To determine these costs, we assess the dollar value of clergy / staff / volunteer hours; the value of space used by the program; the value of utilities; and the value of in-kin support. These indirect costs, together with the actual dollar support, are used to determine the average fiscal value of the program reported in our study. By determining the fiscal contribution, we are able to establish a measure of the congregational investment to social programs and community service. P. 83

…congregations are highly effective in attracting members to volunteer as a group to carry out social programs. Member’s enthusiasm and the nature of the work often attract additional volunteers from the community. P 84

The size of the congregation was not significantly correlated with the percentage of annual budget allocated to social programs. Thus we can assume that, regardless of size, congregations allocate 22.6 percent of their operating budgets to social services. P. 89

It is important to note that in our sample as a whole and for each city, the mean percentage allocated to social programs (22.6 percent) was higher than traditional tithing….whereas American corporations, on average, designate only about 1 percent of their pretax net income for charitable contributions (Gasaskiewicz, 1997). By any of these three measures congregations can be considered the most charitable in supporting social programs that benefit the community. P. 80-90

The key question is: What is the estimated replacement value of all the social and community programs provided by local religious congregations? P.90

Volunteer hours represent the congregation’s most important resource in social service provision. According to Dodgkinson and Weitzman (1993), each volunteer give, on average, 4.6 hours per month. Taken as a whole, volunteer hours account for half of all hours spent in social service provision by congregations. P. 94

We therefore assessed the value of congregational member-volunteer time at $11.58 an hour. This figure accords with the average hourly rate computed in 1992 by the Independent Sector and supported by an economic analysis carried out by Brown (1999) p. 95

While congregations function primarily as gathering places for collective worship, they also function as social safety nets. P. 100

Jackson and his colleagues (1997) found that “belonging to a coalition increased the likelihood of offering programs in each of the eight categories [of service]….Affiliation with a coalition made it more likely for a faith-based institution to offer a program, particularly in the areas of Emergency Services, Housing, Economic Development, and Health and Fitness” (p.9 Jackson) p. 159

According to McGavran and Winfield (1997), viability in congregations—that is, increased membership and sustained income—is linked with active involvement in social and community affairs. P. 178

It is our contention that volunteerism is strongly associated with membership in a religious congregation and that personal religious faith alone is a weaker explanation for the decision to volunteer. Three factors account for congregational membership as a strong motivator for volunteerism. First, congregations are not only religious settings but also social settings that enable people to fulfill their psychological need for meaning, self worth, and love. Second, congregations are small groups that, according to social psychologists, hold significant power over their members. Third member ship in an active group that holds many face-to-face meetings increases one’s chances of being asked to participate in a volunteer activity. P. 212

Our hypothesis is supported by three independent sets of data. First comparative studies of volunteers and nonvolunteers show that religious belief alone is not significantly associated with the decision to volunteer. Second, members of evangelical congregations are less likely or equally likely to engage in social volunteering than mainline denominations because the group culture is more concern with salvation and proselytization than with social service. Furthermore, being “more” religions is not associated with higher rates of volunteer activity. Finally religious people in other countries are less involved in volunteerism than are those in the United States. P. 212

According to the Independent Sector study (Hodgkinson, Weitzman, 1994), one-third of all those who volunteer, or 17.6 percent of the population, volunteer within, and for, religious organizations. P. 213

Two competing hypotheses have been advanced to explain the relationship between religion and social concern (volunteering to help others). The direct-link theory holds that religious people, by theological education or personality, are more concerned with the welfare of others and therefore help the needy more than people who are not religious. The club theory holds that religious people are not more concerned with the welfare of others but that belonging to a congregation that helps others influences them to comply with the group’s norms and culture and to utilize active personal networks to recruit coreligionists to join in volunteer work. Consequently, congregants exhibit high rates of volunteerism. Wuthnow (1991), for example doubts that personal faith alone, without the impetus of congregational membership, would motivate people to help others. P. 215
…religious people do not volunteer more compared with nonreligious people, nor do they give more hours to volunteering compared with nonreligious volunteers. Finally we show that religious people volunteer within the context of a congregation and that this context leads to increased external (communal) volunteerism. Thus religious beliefs, in and of themselves, do not explain the link between religion and volunteerism. P. 216

Hodkinson and her colleagues also found that the average hours of volunteering rose from 1.6 hours for those who do not attend worship services to 3.4 hours for those who attend weekly. The correlation between volunteering and the organized religious community suggests that people who worship together forma community and therefore are more likely to volunteer as a group or as representatives of the group. P. 216

Robert Wuthnow (1994a) noted that ‘religious organizations tell people of opportunities to serve, both within and beyond the congregation itself, and provide personal contacts, committees, phone numbers, meeting space, transportation, or whatever it may take to help turn good intentions into action (pp.242-243) p. 217


However, these authors (Wilson and Janoski 1995)also found that only 38 percent of the conservative Protestants who did not attend church regularly were volunteers for social causes, compared with 71 percent of the conservative Protestants who attend church regularly. This, attendance at services—being part of a religious congregation—is associated with willingness to help others in the community, rather than the liberal or conservative slant of one’s perspective. P. 217

Another key finding by Wilson and Janoski (1995) is that those who attend services are more likely to volunteer than those who do not. Attendance/nonattendance is more important than frequency of attendance. Of those attending worship at least a few times a year, 48 percent reported volunteering, while only 34 percent of nonattenders reported volunteering. P.217

According to the first Canadian national survey of giving and volunteering (Statistics Canada, 1998), those with a religious affiliation volunteered more than those with no religious affiliation (33 percent versus 28 percent). The difference increased dramatically when those who attended church weekly were compared with those who did not attend church weekly (46 percent versus 28 percent). P. 218

Frans Lammertyn and Lesley Hustinx studied 715 students in Katholic University, Leuven [Belgium]. They found that religion and religious beliefs did not significantly impact volunteering. However, church attendance was strongly and significantly associated with volunteering….Belgian students indicated volunteering was twice as prevalent among those who attended church regularly, while religion and beliefs in God were not significantly associated with volunteering. P. 218

Yonish and Campbell (1998), in their analysis of the Independent Sector’s data on volunteering, concluded that those who attend worship services, regardless of religious tradition, are more likely to volunteer than those who do not and that “more frequent church attendance corresponds with a greater proportion of volunteers” (p. 8)…According to these authors, there is no better evidence for the impact of church attendance on volunteering “than the fact that, ceteris paribus, church attendance rivals education as a predictor of volunteering” (p.12) (emphasis in the original) P. 219

Penny Edgell Becker (2000) found that among church members, those who volunteer consider other congregation members among their best friends more often than those who do not volunteer. Moreover, once friendship is considered, the salience of religious loses any predictive power. In addition, Becker found that the relevant group for attenders who volunteer is not neighbors but congregational friends. P. 220


Church attendance is a much stronger predictor than anything else. Put simply, church attendance and participation in church programs are by far the strongest predictors of volunteering. People who participate tend to volunteer and visa versa, telling us that volunteering should be conceptualized as a close cousin to worship attendance and program participation. ON THE BACK SIDE OF PARTICIPATION CONGREGANTS CONSIDER SERVICE TO BE CONSTITUTIVE p. 221

Peter Kaldor and his colleagues (1999) studied church participation in Australia. In a random sample of 8,500 individuals, the authors asked a series of questions on religious participation and community volunteering. Questions about volunteering outside the congregation produced significant findings: “The Australian Community Survey found that 21 percent of church attenders are involved in care, welfare or support groups, compared to 7 percent of non-attender.” P. 222

Most volunteer coordinators now that the best way to recruit volunteers is to approach tem through people they know and trust. Volunteering is social, and therefore, it is the participation in a congregation and the bonding with other congregants that foster volunteering among religious people. It is the social function of the congregation that actualizes the religious teaching of helping others. P. 222

Involvement in the social life of a congregation increases the likelihood that an individual will engage in activities shared by other members with whom he or she has face-to-face contacts. Given that many congregations are involved in carrying out social services, it is likely that congregants will come into personal contact with—and join with—others already engaged in volunteer work. People who join groups, especially religious congregations, are likely to internalize the norms and activities prevalent in these groups. P.225

Findings from our interviews and the literature review support the view that volunteering is not the direct result of religious beliefs and teaching. These finding sow that volunteering is mediated by congregational activity and social connections that channel religious beliefs and teachings into action. P. 227

Volunteerism is enhanced through conformity with group norms that call upon members to come together and help others in need. P. 227

Moreover, retention is higher because volunteer work, when done with friends, provides a basis for social interaction and gratification from significant people such as close friends, relatives, and religious counterparts. We are most likely to be influenced by what significant people think of us and to attempt to meet their expectations. P. 228

As we pointed out in the preface, Americans believe in economic and social self-reliance, yet by age sixty-five, close to two-thirds of all Americans will have experience at least one year of poverty (Rank & Hirschi, 1999). Because the U.S. government doesn’t provide a safety net for those in extreme need, this responsibility has been delegated to local communities and, by default, also to local congregations. When someone is hungry and homeless, help is most likely to come from members of a local congregation. When children of working parents are left alone at home, the local congregation is most likely to offer an after-school latchkey program similarly, when people are discharged from alcohol rehabilitation centers, it is most likely that they will turn for support of the AA group housed in the local congregation. In other works, in America, congregations are the “hidden” safety net p 281


We found that the net value of congregational social and community services averaged $15,306.72 per month, or approximately $184,000 per congregation per year. This contribution is, for the most part, in the form of volunteer hours and other noncash support. The magnitude of this congregational contribution to social services provision can best be appreciated by comparing it to costs incurred by secular providers who must pay for the types of in[kind support that congregations voluntarily provide at no cash cost. P 282-283

[1] Finke, R & Stark, R. (1992). The churching of America 1116-1990: Winners and losers in our religious economy. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
[2]C. Silverman, Faithpbased Communities and Welfare reform: California Religious Community Capacity Study (San Francisco: Institute for Nonprofit Organization, University of San Francisco, 200).

Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action

Massaro, Thomas S.J., Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2000.

In fact, many of the laudable social institutions and practices that we take for granted today have their roots in teachings and activities of the Christian community, including the Catholic Church. For example, the complex system of hospitals and modern health care from which we all benefit sprang from charitable works that were sponsored by churches, both Protestant and Catholic, in previous centuries. Modern labor unions and group insurance policies are an outgrowth of various activities of guilds and sodalities, agencies through which members of the medieval Church practiced mutual support, often under direct religious auspices. Churches organized the first schools in our nation and in other lands, and much of our educational system at all levels is still religiously affiliated. It was the Church that cared for poor families before there were public social service agencies. The contemporary social work and nursing professions grew out of the efforts of church personnel, largely nuns and laywomen, Catholic and Protestant alike, to assist families in need of resources, expertise and healing.
For good reason, then, the Church has been called the “godmother of the nonprofit sector.” The Church continues to have significant impact on the shape of all these activities and professions as well as various social movements for justice, civil rights, and a more humane world. In fact, there is a recurring historical pattern by which assorted efforts begin with religious motivations and zeal, and then come to be regularized and routinized in the form of secular institutions. This is a beneficial, constructive aspect of the Church’s service to the world and in no way diminishes the Church, as long as we remain conscious of the way these developments are a credit to the Church and its efforts at advancing social justice in our world. P. 14-15

To our existing belief in the benefits of charity, we have added a commitment to justice. Where charity tends to involve individuals or small groups of people acting to meet the immediate needs of others, work for justice involves a more communal and even global awareness of problems and their potential long-term solutions. Where the notion of charity calls to mind voluntary giving out of one’s surplus, the notion of justice suggests that there is an absolute obligation to share the benefits of God’s creation more broadly than we see in the present order. P. 19

Amidst some years of uneasy relations between Church and empire, a North African Christian named Tertullian asked a simple but provocative question: “What has Jerusalem to say to Athens?” His inquiry was not really a matter of geography, for he was speaking metaphorically. The Greek city of Athens represented all the treasures of secular culture, including the great traditions of learning and the arts that came from pagan figures such as Homer, Sophocles, Plato and Aristotle. Jerusalem, capital of the holy Land, sacred to the Jewish tradition and the city whose streets Jesus had trod, stood for the heritage of biblical faith and religious piety. At the start of the third century, Tertullian’s reflections were suggesting questions we still wrestle with today: How can and should we relate our citizenship and discipleship? How can we simultaneously remain participants in the life of the Church and participants in a secular culture that resists and even rejects the demands of faith? P. 29

According to this ethic of social engagement, the two most extreme answers to Tertullian’s question (“nothing” and “everything”) are both misguided and potentially dangerous. If we were to claim that “Jerusalem” has nothing to say to “Athens,” we would be giving up the struggle before it begins. It would be irresponsible to deprive society of the contribution of religiously motivated persons whose ideas and energies are the potential basis for much needed activism and social movements for great improvement. To take just a few examples from our won country, where would American society be if religious groups had not agitated for the end o\to slavery (in the Abolition movement), to extreme militarism (the peace movement), to racial injustice (the Civil Rights movement), and to extreme poverty (the fight against hunger, homelessness, and illiteracy)? P.33

The best representative of nineteenth-century Social Catholicism in England was Cardinal Henry Edward Manning (1808-1892)…. Besides fervently speaking out about social injustices, Maning performed many symbolic and substantial deeds to demonstrate his concern for the poor and his desire to awaken rich Catholics out of their slumber of apathy. In the 1860s he canceled plans to build a new Westminster cathedral so the money could be used to open over twenty new schools for children in poor families. P. 70-80

When we read Patristic literature, we might be dissatisfied with some of its positions on social issues. They may seem at first blush to be overly simplified and, therefore, largely irrelevant to the complexities of our modern era. For example, on the issue of private property, several of the Church Fathers wrote angry denunciations of greed and selfishness but did not pay sufficient attention to the detailed arguments supporting the continued recognition of private ownership of property. Basis the Great, for example, preached a famous sermon in which he boldly stated that all our surplus wealth belongs to the needy and should be distributed to the poor immediately. John Chrysostom went so far as to advocate a form of communism when he wrote: “For ‘mine’ and ‘thine’—those chilly words which introduce innumerable wars into the world—should be eliminated… The poor would not envy the rich, because there would be no rich. Neither would the poor be despised by the rich, for there would be no poor. All things would be held in common.” P 97-98

Nine Key Themes of Catholic Social Teaching
The dignity of every person and human rights. “Because we all somehow reflect the image of God in our rational minds and in our physical bodies, we are all entitled to be treated with respect and dignity. Because we are intelligent and free beings, God intends us to be immune from slavery, manipulation, or exploitation.” P 115-116
Solidarity, common good, and participation. “Solidarity is the single word that captures a complex of meanings. It calls attention to the simple and easily observable fact that people are interdependent; they rely upon each other for almost all their biological and social needs….We cannot realize our full potential or appreciate the full meaning of our dignity unless we share our lives with others and cooperate on projects that hold the promise of mutual benefit.” P. 119-120
Family Life. “The family occupies a special place in Catholic social teaching; it is the most intimate sphere in which people cooperate and the first place where children learn about themselves, their individual identities, and their vocations within the wider society….The well-being of the entire society absolutely depends upon healthy families, committed marriages, and responsible parenthood. Family life is where we learn and practice the virtues of love and compassion that allow us to imagine alternatives to the ruthless competition and selfish individualism that we witness all too often in the business world and in our market-based society.” P. 124-125
Subsidiarity and the proper role of government. “The term subsidiarity comes from the Latin word for “assistance,” and it refers to the way the various levels of society should relate to each and assist one another in bringing about the best outcomes for all people. One of the benefits of the principle of subsidiarity is that it respects the natural groupings tat people form with their neighbors. For example, if the people of a small village agree on a goal (say, building a road or cleaning up a polluted swamp) and have the means to accomplish I, they should avoid involving any larger bodies in the task.” P 128-129
Property ownership in modern society: rights and responsibilities. “…the Catholic tradition also makes us aware of the benefits of individual ownership, which not only encourage the most efficient and the most orderly of property arrangements but also gives us an incentive to be productive and to care for the goods God has created…. To ignore the needs of our less-fortunate neighbors, whether out of selfish motives or mere neglect, is to frustrate the very purpose of God in creating the material world we share.” P. 132-133
The dignity of work, rights of workers, and support for labor unions. “…labor is portrayed as neither a necessary evil nor merely a means to the end of supporting family life; rather, labor is presented as something that is intrinsically good for us. In our work, we can discover rich meaning and develop our potential. Evan in the humdrum routine of daily life in the workplace, work is more than a taxing or boring necessity. P. 141
Colonialism and economic development. “Elsewhere in Sollicitudo re socialis, the Pope [John Paul II] identifies a number of ‘structures of evil,’ including the crushing burden of international debt, the arms race, and a form of economic domination often termed ‘neo-colonialism.’ John Paul II denounces these harmful trends and patterns which are responsible for the worsening plight of the poorest as they suffer from the effects of unemployment, a housing crisis, illiteracy, and other obstacles in their full human development. P. 148
Peace and Disarmament. “The Christian presumption against violence gave way to the noble desire to protect the innocent from harm. Many believers reached the conclusion that the best we can do in these difficult situations is to limit the damage while we defend innocent civilians by means of the deadly force we otherwise would choose to avoid. Taking up arms in justified causes such as these came to be referred to as strange acts of love, undertaken with the same reluctance that parents feel when they are forced to discipline their unruly children.” P. 151-152
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable. “In once sense, the notion of the ‘preferential option for the poor’ is relatively new to Catholic social teaching, as this phrase appeared in no papal social encyclical until 1987, and in no church documents at all until 1979. But in another sense, the notion of the preferential option for those who are weak and vulnerable has been present within the Christian tradition from the very start. The ministry of Jesus, in both words and deeds, was deeply wrapped up with this commitment to the well-being of the least fortunate. Without using the actual phrase “preferential option,” the Church has practiced this option in many ways, formal and informal, as it has placed concern for the most vulnerable members of society among its top priorities…. In identifying itself with the concerns of the poor, the Church is here interpreting its entire mission as one of service to those in need. Bringing the gospel to people in the fullest sense means caring simultaneously for their many needs, spiritual and material. The Church is most clearly itself when it is acting on the imperative to meet the urgent needs of the most vulnerable—the ones Jesus Christ so loves.” P. 158-159

Mother Teresa, a hero to millions, was famous for calling her admirers to ‘find your own Calcutta.’ By this she meant that it is important, wherever you find yourself, to take advantage of whatever opportunities arise for social involvement and world for justice….
Take, for example, the story of St. Peter Claver (1581-1654) He started out as an ordinary Spanish Jesuit of his day but, almost by accident, found himself ministering to some of the most oppressed people on earth—thousands of Africans kidnapped and being sold into servitude in the slave markets of Cartagena, Colombia. Peter Claver dreamed about single-handedly ending the institution of slavery and dramatically confronting the entire seventeenth-century establishment of colonialism that supported the many cruelties he witnessed. But he was limited to what he could realistically do: make simple visits to the slave ships and prisons where he could console, counsel, and offer the sacraments to those deprived of their freedom and dignity. Over his forty years of ministry, St. Peter Claver baptized some 300,000 slave. By showing these men, women, and children the respect owed to children of God, he certainly did contribute to the change in attitude that eventually abolished the slave trade.

Christianity and Social Work

Christianity and Social Work: Readings on the Integration of Christian Faith and Social Work Practice. Edited by Hugen, Beryl. Botsford, Connecticut: North American Association of Christians in Social Work, 1998.

It would be hard for anyone to deny that the Christian church is one of the true originators of charity. Out of ancient Israel’s concern for justice and mercy toward the sick, the poor, the orphaned, the widowed—from Micah and Hosea, Jeremiah and Isaiah—grew the compassion of Jesus and the devotion of Paul. The justice and love of God set forth and exemplified tin the Judeo-Christian tradition has given drive and direction to much of western culture’s charities. Historically the whole shape and operation of organized welfare is inexplicable apart from this religious conviction and commitment. Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant thought have all along continuously shaped the ideological basis of social work practice. P. 2

Both in congregations and in church agencies, church social workers have the task of building and strengthening communities. The most effective outreach ministries of the church (i.e. “evangelism”) are those which extend the hospitality and care of the church community to those who do not have such a community. P. 16

Ed Bacon, Rector of All Saints [Church in Los Angeles], has pointed out that when the church gives birth to a ministry, then successful calls on society to support that ministry, and finally the ministry is secularized and integrated into society, then the church has facilitated social transformation (Bacon, 1996). P. 17 [Bacon, E (1996). Presentation: Louisville Institute Conference, Louisville, KY]

Starting in the mid-nineteenth century, in response to the demands of the industrialization of American cities and towns, the religious settlement workers created, financed and staffed outreach programs to the most marginalized inhabitants of the inner cities. They formed Bible classes, kindergartens, industrial schools, clubs, loan banks, job bureaus, dispensaries, reading rooms and other programs that laid the groundwork for later social reforms p. 27

Between 1860 and 1900, some fourteen million immigrants came to America and about another nine million, mainly from southern and eastern Europe…arrived between 1900 and 1910” (Trattner, 1979, p. 135). The massive crowding illnesses, and social problems created by the influx of largely unskilled, illiterate, foreign-speaking individuals was unparalleled in our history. In New York City, two-thirds of the population lived in tenements in 1890, while Chicago, then the fastest growing city in the world, packed inner-city residents near the putrid-smelling, unsanitary stockyards where slaughtered animal carcasses fouled water and air. P. 29 [Trattner, Walter I (1979). From poor law to welfare state. (2nd. Ed.), New York: Free Press.]

The solution to these changes was to set up a specialized form of city missions in these abandoned churches to Americanize, and hence Christianize, the new arrivals by offering them resources and support. These citadels against the onslaught of massive social problems were called Institutional Churches. Programs and activities developed in these “open” or “free” churches (because there was no charge for the pews) were adopted by the social settlers and others following in their footsteps (Bremmer, 1956). These churches viewed themselves as “Institutions” that ministered seven days a week to the physical and spiritual wants of all the people within their reach. [They] sponsored clinics, free Saturday night concerts, self-supporting restaurants and lodging houses, wood wards for the unemployed, “fresh air work” for women and children, and “gold-cure” establishments for drunkards. There was a marked emphasis on practical education. Institutional churches sponsored libraries and literary societies and carried on kindergartens, trade schools, and community colleges (McBride, 1983, p.xi) p. 30 [Bremmer, Robert H. (1956). From the depths: The discovery of poverty in the United States. New York: New York University Press.] [McBride, Esther Barnhart. (1983). Open church: History of an idea. U.S.A., By the author.]

Much of the philosophy undergirding the mission societies’ work came from a societal view of women as the moral guardians of the home. In the North, missionary society members organized under the banner of “evangelical domesticity,” the notion that the natural spiritual superiority of women gave them the authority to protect their homes and children from the evil influences of society (Lee, 1981). P. 31 [Lee, Susan Dye. (1981). Evangelical domesticity: The Woman’s Temperance Crusade of 1873-1874. In Hilah Thomas & Rosemary Skinner Keller, (Eds.), Women in new worlds, (pp.293-309). Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Deaconesses were distinguished from the city missionaries by the clothing they wore, their communal living arrangements, their formal connecting to the church, and their unsalaried service (Deaconess Advocate, February 1901)….Their task was to “minister to the poor, visit the sick, pray for the dying, care for the orphan, seek the wandering, comfort the sorrowing, [and] save the sinning…” Thoburn & Leonard in Lee, 1963, p. 37)….In the first thirty years of the Methodist diaconate, the Chicago Training School, founded by Lucy Rider Meyer, sent nearly 4,000 deaconesses and city missionaries to work in hospitals, schools, settlements, rescue homes and churches. P. 33 [Lee, Elizabeth Meredith. (1963) As among the Methodists: Deaconesses yesterday tody and tomorrow. New York: Woman’s Division of Christian Service, Board of Missions, Methodist Church.

Additionally, “the spontaneous will to serve, “so evident in earlier church volunteers was subverted by the drive for professionalization. Previous values that had stressed compassion, emotional involvement, and vigorous love of humanity, according to social work historian Roy Lubove (1965), were “educated out” in preference for a “scientific trained intelligence and skillful application of technique” (p. 122). This new climate of professionalism at the beginning of the twentieth century changed the relationship between helper and those helped. Agencies became bureaucratic rather than evangelical, more contractual than spontaneous, and more removed from their clients. P. 36 [Lubove, Roy. (1965) The professional altruist: The emergence of social work as a career 1880-1930. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

In the 1930’s America was a phenomenally rich country by world standards. When the Russians viewed the film, The Grapes of Wrath, they marveled that the Okies had cars. P. 145

Yet, in one respect at least, the medieval church protected the poor. Only the church was large enough and universal enough to speak for those outside the [feudal] system….It is significant that the three services most typical of the church at that time were the hospital, the hospice, and the sanctuary. With the fragmentation of the church following the Reformation, this safeguard was lost and did not appear, in America, at least, until the federal government assumed something of this role in the 1930’s. p.151