Discipleship/Citizenship Project

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Fri, 10/01/1993
End Date: 
Sun, 12/31/1995

Under the auspices of the Center for Ethics and Social Policy at Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California, John A. Coleman and associates researched six diverse social and political actions groups in the United States in order to understand how Christian concerns inform their outlook and the myriad ways in which their social vision is articulated. The six organizations were: (1) Bread for the World, (2) Operation PUSH, (3)Focus on the Family, (4) Pacific Institute for Community Organizing – PICO, (5) Habitat for Humanity, and (6) Pax Christi, USA. Over a three-year period beginning in 1993, Coleman and associates examined the literature produced by each of these organizations describing their mission, activities and organizational history, and conducted extensive on-site interviews at key service delivery location for each of these organizations.
Researchers sought and gathered information along the following questions: (1) How much do these organizations encourage a congregational and parish-based strategy for their service delivery activities? (2) What are the difficulties involved in sustaining their activities at the local church level? (3) How do the personnel in these organizations experience and articulate the tension between citizenship and discipleship? (4) How do these organizations view the relationship between citizenship and discipleship? (5) What specific problems do these organizations encounter in using discipleship language in public and in employing notions of citizenship within their base in Christian discipleship? All of these inquiries were driven by the underlying quest to understand the relationship between commitment to one’s religion and to one’s nation.
The findings were presented in several conferences; additionally, Coleman used the research materials in his lecture at several educational institutions.