Community Building

20 MAY 2017

How Small Congregations Can Serve the Community

Sometimes people ask, “What can we do?  We are a small congregation!  Here are two examples of two congregations that leveraged their resources to change the community for the better. St John’s: Building Partnerships “St. John’s United Church of Christ is a ethnic church in Aurora, Illinois, that has about twenty people in worship on […]

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8 APRIL 2017

Best Practices for Short-Term Mission Trips

“First do no harm” is a rule that applies not only to medical practice but to short-term mission trips. Given the obvious challenges involved in shuttling a group of volunteers to a distant community with an unfamiliar culture, it cannot be stressed enough that mistakes can happen, with perhaps long-lasting consequences for mission participants or […]

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31 MARCH 2017

Where To Go on Mission Trips?

When initiating a short-term mission trip overseas, the most important decision may be the first: where should we go? Here are two possibilities: Take advantage of a personal connection.  This may be someone who knows the community because they have been there, either as a tourist, as part of a mission trip, or because of […]

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Transgender Facts (Infographic)

Facts matter.  I’m reposting this infographic in light of a Trump Administration decision to remove protections for transgender students’ use of bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity. Spiritual leaders and congregations can become allies of transgender individuals by getting to know them and their stories and by advocating for their safety.  Everyone has the right […]

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16 FEBRUARY 2017

Supporting Immigrants Right From Baptism

A Catholic priest serving a culturally mixed parish, with both native-born and immigrant members, found a way to strengthen support for newborn immigrants in his charge.  The key:  linking that support to the rite of baptism. Father Dajean served six rural Mississippi parishes—four Hispanic and two Anglo that were both geographically and socially distant. The […]

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Church mission trip to Dominican Republic
9 FEBRUARY 2017

How Mission Trips Challenge Us

Do mission trips really do any good, or are they simply “faith-based tourism” masquerading as meaningful engagement? In point of fact, such trips can help Americans challenge long-held cultural assumptions. Short-term mission is hugely popular among American congregations. Sociologist Robert Wuthnow estimates that 32% of American congregations sponsor short-term overseas volunteer trips every year.[1]

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Catholic Campaign for Human Development immersion experience to learn about poverty
1 FEBRUARY 2017

Learning From the Empowered Poor

These days we don’t talk to each other enough, especially across economic class. If you wanted to talk with someone who is poor, where exactly would that happen?  Growing up middle class, high school might be the last time you walked alongside people who haven’t shared the perks of your income strata. Then college and […]

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Video: How To Have a Respectful Conversation

  How can you have a respectful conversation with someone about a really divisive issue without coming to blows?  Is it even possible?  The Minnesota Council of Churches hosted a series of “Respectful Conversations” about an upcoming marriage amendment.  Before the start, they offered the following video on the “do’s” and “don’t’s” of respectful dialogue.

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Congregations can overcome political dysfunction through civic engagement
18 JANUARY 2017

Can Congregations Address Political Polarization?

  Sad to say, American society has become a place of increasing deadlock and dysfunction. At the same time, American religious life, centered in its congregations, can offer a unique model for overcoming dysfunction.  Conversations take place there—in worship, in small group study, in team meetings. What if we practiced healthy, respectful conversation? Would the […]

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Video: Understanding What Muslims Mean by “Jihad”

  We all need a better understanding of Islam in America.  This video reports on a controversy over the meaning of the word “jihad,” which can mean “holy war” or simply “struggle.”  When an anti-Muslim activist started a campaign to define Islam as a violent religion, a group called “My Jihad” emerged to argue with […]

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