The Global Role of Congregations

Robert Wuthnow

in Boundless Faith

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780520259157
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943063 | DOI:
The Global Role of Congregations

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The global role of U.S. congregations extends well beyond the occasional offering for disaster relief. The vast majority of U.S. congregations are still intensely interested in transcultural ministries ranging from missions to humanitarian efforts to refugee assistance and peacemaking. Congregations typically receive offerings for international hunger or relief between four and six times a year, although local practices vary considerably. The money congregations raise for hunger and relief goes to trusted denominational or independent agencies that administer and distribute the funds. Congregation-based committees seek to fill the gap, providing personalized and enduring support. 38 percent of those whose congregations provide any support say their church directly helps a particular missionary, 31 percent say the support goes to a missionary organization, and 22 percent say their congregation does both. Small congregations usually have meager resources and thus support a single missionary family or send money to a mission agency as part of their regular budget. Larger congregations are able to do considerably more, meaning that an effective administrative apparatus becomes crucial.

Keywords: congregations; global Christianity; humanitarian efforts; peacemaking; congregation-based committees

Chapter.  20075 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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