What has distinguished growing American congregations from their stagnant and dwindling cousins? Some tentative answers are found in a new report from Faith Communities Today: a growing, youthful demographic setting, a multiethnic constituency, a “vital,” contemporary worship style, and a purposeful organizational disposition to grow and change. Drums and “joyful” worship often went with growth; worship described as “reverent,” unfortunately, did not often accompany numeric growth in weekly attendance (see pages 9 and 10 of the report).
Whether these recent trends are worthy of emulation is a theological and social matter the current report does not address directly. But scholars and laypeople of all stripes may find evidence to inform their perspectives. The report, covering many faiths and denominations, is based on nationwide data collected in 2005 by the Calvin College Center for Social Research.
Volunteers are needed to visit rural areas this fall to help finish a congregational census of Kent County.
Sign up for training, then cover a part of the county in late September and early October. About ten pairs of volunteers can finish the job in under a week.
Training: Saturday, September 23, 9am - 12pm at Grand Valley State University’s downtown campus. Read more below to RSVP.
Drive all over a part of rural Kent County and document the churches you find.
Approaching the covered bridge at Fallasburg Park in northeast Kent County, October 2005.
In January 2006, Calvin computer science major Mark Van Holstyn, then a junior, along with CSR Assistant Director Neil Carlson, completed the initial stage of design and deployment of a new web-based database application and research tool for Cherry Street Health Services, a non-profit health system with nine clinics serving low-income children and families in the Grand Rapids area. The web application streamlines Cherry Street’s service to help patients apply for low-cost or free medications from pharmaceutical companies. The program has been running well for over eight months now, with minimal need for training or support. CSR’s work greatly improved accessibility from remote sites, reliability and data quality, including a centrally managed drug formulary, list of physicians and strong user security. The new system also tracks health outcomes so as to facilitate research and program evaluation in the future. CSR was connected to this project through Dr. Fred DeJong, who is completing a contract for evaluation of Cherry Street’s role as lead agency in a major federal grant for Grand Rapids area health care.