Community Ministries Today: Nine Regionally Dispersed Case Studies

Annie E. Casey Foundation



Case Study Sector


The term "community ministry" refers to a faith-based social service model, sometimes referred to as “interfaith” or “ecumenical coalitions.” Community ministries define themselves as faith-based, but they are separate organizations from the congregations and denominations that provide them with volunteers and financial contributions. The focus of their ministry can range from the neighborhood community to small towns and counties.
Research interest in faith-based social services has surged as a result of the pressure being exerted on these nonprofit organizations. Most of what we know about religious social services is based on studies of congregations, whereas there has been little written about the structure and work of community ministries. Community ministries have their own resources and governance, however, and often have collaborative partners other than the congregations. Therefore, it is important to include community ministries in the analysis of faith-based social services.
This study addresses the role and capacity of community ministries in supporting and strengthening disadvantaged children, families, and neighborhoods. The research involves nine mini case studies representing regional and organizational variation:

  • United Ministries, Greenville, South Carolina
  • Northwest Assistance Ministries, Houston, Texas
  • South Louisville Community Ministry, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Christian Community Action, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Northwest Interfaith Movement, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Portland, Oregon
  • Faith Works, Redding, California
  • Schenectady Inner City Ministry, Schenectady, New York
  • Capitol Hill Group Ministry, Washington, D.C.

The four major areas of inquiry at each site are:

  1. Organizational structure and strategies
  2. Programs
  3. Capacity of the ministries in terms of budgets and staffing
  4. Clients’ needs and the impact of welfare reform



  • Strategy


  • Northern America

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