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Organizing Religious Work for the 21st Century:
Exploring "Denominationalism"

Project Overview

Technological and cultural changes are transforming the way work is done.  These are changes that affect all segments of American life, including religion.  For much of this century, for instance, many people did religious work through centralized denominational systems that linked congregations to regional and national offices.  Most of these structures are still in place, but it is clear that they are feeling the pressures of these unsettled times. Meanwhile, hundreds of new religious organizations are being formed to serve congregations. This project is an attempt to assess the changes afoot in existing denominational systems, while also mapping the emerging forms of cooperation through which congregations are channeling their ministries.

The Organizing Religious Work Project began in 1997 as a project of the Hartford Institute for Religious Research. The full project entailed over 70 researchers and associates throughout the country looking at religious organization at the three levels of congregations, judicatory officials and denominational structures and their executives.

This project specifically looked for the organizational connections through which communities of faith:

1. provide their participants with opportunities for worship, education, spiritual support, and nurture
2. provide service and care to their communities
3. speak out for the values they believe in
4. come to understand and work with people different from themselves
5. remember and pass on their own faith tradition
6. obtain the resources and professional leaders they need to do their own local work
7. hold each other accountable 


This research is being done under the auspices of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford Seminary, in Hartford, Connecticut. This study is funded by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., an Indiana-based foundation with a special concern for the institutions that provide the religious resources upon which a flourishing and humane society depends.

The "Organizing Religious Work" project is co-directed by Dr. Nancy T. Ammerman*, author of Congregation and Community, Dr. Adair T. Lummis, co-author of An Uphill Calling: Ordained Women and Men in the Protestant Ministry, and Dr. David A. Roozen, director of the Research Institute and co-author of Rerouting the Protestant Mainstream: Sources of Growth & Opportunities for Change.  Dr. Scott L. Thumma was our Research Associate.

*Nancy Ammerman is teaching at Boston University and can be emailed at nta@bu.edu.



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