The completion of any book is a collaborative endeavor, reflecting the efforts of many more people than those whose names appear on its cover. There are many individuals and organizations that we wish to thank for their contributions to this project, and sincerely hope that we have not overlooked anyone in doing so. Where we extend our gratitude to the multiple persons and organizations listed below, we do so alphabetically because it would be impossible to rank–order the contributions of so many.
We extend a special thanks to the religious leaders and benevolence workers in local congregations who gave generously of their time and insights to make this study possible. We are especially grateful to those who welcomed us into their congregations to observe and participate in their benevolence programs. Members of the religious communities whose stories are told here never failed to engage us on intellectual, material, and spiritual issues—and not necessarily in that order. Although we take full responsibility for the interpretations offered here, we have tried to be respectful in our dialogue with our subjects’ experiences and viewpoints. We pay all these persons of faith the highest compliment in saying that we think about faith–based benevolence work quite differently now than we did going into this study.
Various organizations provided generous funding for the study, including the Joint Center for Poverty Research; the Louisville Institute; the MSU Criss Fund; the PricewaterhouseCooper Endowment; the Religious Research Association; the Rural Health, Safety, and Security Institute; and the Southern Rural Development Center. We also thank the reviewers of our research proposals, reports, and other writings submitted to these organizations. We are especially grateful to Mark Abramson, Paul Lawrence, James Lewis, and Scott Thumma in this capacity. Portions of this book were presented as conference papers at various annual meetings,