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Vol. II, No. I

Happy New Year! We wanted to start the year with a series of newsletters highlighting recent research, which we will make available on the HIRR web site in the coming weeks.


This first New & Notes of the New Year highlights a recent study of 15 Philadelphia congregations which explores the relationship between social action, evangelism and faith in church-based community outreach. In an era of Charitable Choice, this research is both timely and instructive.

The authors of the study, Ronald Sider and Heidi Rolland Unruh, suggest that there are five distinct ways that churches integrate sharing their faith and meeting social needs. This spectrum extends from one extreme where social service is done as an occasion for intentional evangelism to the other where outreach is informed by an implicit theology of justice. Each of the five types have distinct theological characteristics, programmatic features and understandings of the relationship between religious beliefs and social change.

Sider and Unruh also use their research to create an explicit definition of what the sufficient conditions should be to consider a program as a faith-based ministry. They clearly define organizational and resource criteria, based on a congregation’s level of investment in a social service program, which should be used to identify a faith-based social ministry. Read more about the findings of this interesting project on this web site.


The Center for Public Justice: A Guide to Charitable Choice
Information on Section 104 of the 1996 Federal Welfare Law Governing State Cooperation with Faith-Based Social-Service Providers. They also provide an extensive page of resources on the same topic.

The Welfare Information Network web site 
This site has pages on faith-based involvement which are a very rich resource for papers, links and organizations dealing with Charitable Choice.

Faith Based Involvement 
This page lies within the Welfare Information Network web site and provides links to research and policy analysis on Charitable Choice and faith-based involvement in social services.


Since we have gathered so much research and articles in the past 6 months, we recently created a new section on our site dedicated to the issues surrounding the role of the congregation in providing community social services.

On this section we posted a summary of recent research by Carl Dudley of Hartford Seminary. This report to Yale University’s Program on Non Profit Organizations describes his research on faith based social services in the Hartford area.

We've added extensive material from the Sider and Unruh study described above, including five different summaries of their findings, one of which is our current quick question

Additionally, we added David Roozen’s H. Paul Douglass lecture that he presented at the annual meeting of the Religious Research Association in October 2001.



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