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Service and Faith Grant

The Impact on Christian Faith and Congregational Life of Organized Community Caring

The Service and Faith Grant was funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and was a three-year $702,000 grant to the Center for Family and Community Ministries within Baylor University's School of Social Work. Much recent research had focused on congregations as a community resource and how professionals who seek to address community needs can relate more effectively to congregations. This research took the opposite tack-how does community service impact the faith of congregation members? What patterns of organized community caring deepen and mature the faith of congregational volunteers and what depletes their resources for caring? The project was carried out by six research partners representing the faculties of four universities in four regions of the country: Baylor University (Texas/Southwest), University of South Carolina (South Carolina/South), Calvin College (Michigan/Upper Midwest), and Whittier College (California/West). The project director was Diana Garland, Chair of the Baylor School of Social Work, with Dennis Myers, associate project director, Director of the graduate program at Baylor School of Social Work. Research partners were Paula Sheridan (Whittier College), Beryl Hugen (Calvin College), Terry Wolfer (University of South Carolina), and David Sherwood (Baylor University). Baylor University played a vital role in studying the effects of service on congregations as well as on their communities. The Center for Family and Community Ministries' mission is to help congregations minister more effectively with families. With the School of Social Work's focus on the integration of faith and practice, this research provided many learning opportunities for students as well as community and congregational leaders.