Church and Community Project: Dissemination of Discoveries

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Mon, 07/01/1991
End Date: 
Wed, 06/30/1993

Carl Dudley and Phil Tom directed the “Dissemination of Discoveries from the Church and Community Project” as the study’s final phase in order to: (1) continue to counsel and learn from the social ministry projects initiated by the Church and Community Project and (2) to implement a strategy for disseminating study findings to congregations, denominational leaders, church organizations, and academic institutions, among others. As of May 1992 (one year after the termination of “seed money”), twenty-five individual projects still existed with 24 still active in June 1993. Of the original twenty-five programs, nine focused on education ministries, three on projects for the elderly, four on housing projects, five on community betterment ministries, and four on advocacy ministries. Project staff rated 22 of these programs as “strongly viable,” having enough human and financial resources to continue for at least another year. <p> Staff members and ministry representatives shared findings in a variety of formal and informal gatherings throughout the grant period. A large number of publications in the form of articles, books, manuscript presentations, a newsletter and “brief papers” communicated insights and interpreted the data collected since the study’s inception. Four seminars with faculty members from McCormick Theological Seminary and two with faculty of Indiana schools at Purdue University, featured presentations based on Church and Community data. The project’s culminating conference titled “Changing Patterns and Continuing Issues in Church and Community Ministries” was held from July 20-23, 1993 in Chicago. <p> Project researchers concluded that social ministry can lead to stronger congregations based on the following responses by church members: (1) members expressed positive attitudinal changes related to participation in ministry; (2) membership and participation in some churches increased as a result of their ministry projects; (3) an increase in ecumenical cooperation occurred; (4) members expressed a sense of pride and accomplishment in their community action projects; (5) they felt their community and/or denomination saw their church in a better light; (6) congregations became more aware of the needs of others and of the interrelationship between themselves and their communities; and (7) many church members reported a deeper personal faith because of their participation in the ministry.