Magazine article The Christian Century

Congregations Serve as Beacons of Hope. (News)

Magazine article The Christian Century

Congregations Serve as Beacons of Hope. (News)

Article excerpt

They are beacons of hope everywhere. They are houses of worship in every corner of the U.S. providing assistance to individuals and families through hard times, especially in sudden emergencies. And that included a growing number of mosques well before the September 11 terrorist attacks thrust U.S. Muslim communities into the spotlight.

In this nearly universal practice of caring, congregations with widely different beliefs and from many locations respond in moments of need, with cash (88 percent) and food (85 percent) the most frequent responses. Clothing, shelter, medical attention and crisis counseling follow in that order (see graph below). Also, in last year's study of 14,301 congregations by Faith Communities Today (FACT), almost nine out of ten congregations reported that they serve as the last resort for neighbors in need.

Among ministries of care, senior citizen programs proved to be most common at 45 percent, but about a third of these churches, synagogues and mosques also support ministries in day care, tutoring-literacy and health programs. …

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