Church and Community Project (Planning Grant)

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Sat, 11/01/1986
End Date: 
Tue, 06/30/1987

“The Planning Grant for the Church and Community Project” involved intensive planning over a seven-month period for the larger “Church and Community Project” that enabled 40 Protestant and Catholic congregations in Illinois and Indiana to identify and develop social programs for their communities. In the backdrop of the Reagan Administration’s shift in responsibility for social concerns from the public to the private sector, project director Carl Dudley and the Center for Congregational Ministries of McCormick Theological Seminary launched this effort to: (1) encourage churches to expand social ministries to create healthier communities, (2) vitalize and strengthen the congregations involved and, (3) learn the impact these ministries have on such things as congregational dynamics, community and social change, and church leadership. <p> The planning phase established four regional administration centers, in Chicago, Indianapolis, Northern Indiana and Central Illinois. Each team, consisting of a coordinator and five denominational leaders, nominated up to ten “typical” congregations, that is, local churches interested in social ministry but not significantly active at the time. Called “contract congregations,” these were joined by partner organizations to develop community social ministries reflecting: (1) congregational identity, (2) social analysis and, (3) organizational support. In June 1987, thirty-one contract congregations and their 25 partner congregations were awarded planning grants to develop ministries in one of the six areas: education, employment, housing, health, hunger and world peace. <p> The project’s research developed on two levels. First, workshops were conducted to ensure maximum efficiency in communication and program development, encouraging feedback and making adjustments as needed. Second, research resources concentrated heavily on congregational participation and community change. Project staff believed that the information gathered might eventually result in a database to help better understand congregational decision-making in general and participation in social concerns in particular.