Center for Social Research

Gatherings of Hope report released from the Kent County Congregations Study


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(PDF, 100pp., 4.7Mb)

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Our report on the Kent County Congregations Study of 2007 is now online! The report, entitled Gatherings of Hope: How Religious Congregations Contribute to the Quality of Life in Kent County is downloadable now in PDF format and bound, full-color copies are available for purchase from the Calvin Campus Store.

As reported on Sunday in the Grand Rapids Press, the KCCS is the most comprehensive study of religious congregations and how they contribute to the quality of life in Kent County. Inspired by the philanthropic vision of Doug and Maria DeVos and funded by their foundation, the project affirms the need for educational, community and religious sectors to collaborate in efforts to improve the lives of children and their families.

These major findings of the report are found in the Executive Summary:

  • Kent County is an unusually religious community. Compared to congregations across the country, Kent County residents are significantly more likely to attend religious services. Kent County congregations are larger in size, have more leaders, are better funded, and are more likely to have participated in or supported a social service program.
  • Hundreds of congregations are located in areas of poverty and great need. Compared to majority White congregations, Black and Hispanic congregations in the county average three to four times the proportion of people with household incomes under $25,000.
  • Local congregations transfer $75.6 million annually to denominations and to international, domestic and county aid and missions—but only 14 percent is clearly designated for Kent County.
  • Worship services in Kent County take place in 28 different languages, reflecting cultural and ethnic diversity. At times multiple languages are spoken in the same congregation.
  • Religious attendance is strongly associated with service to others. Almost 5,200 people from Kent County congregations—including paid staff and volunteers—participate in community service activities. Congregation leaders spend time worth $8.8 million annually on civic and social efforts.
  • Congregations supply 2,827 volunteers for educational programs, but only a third of congregations report any involvement with public schools.
  • Kent County congregations offer higher numbers of social service programs than comparable national averages—2,338 programs in all. Religious participation is not required by 70 percent of these programs.
  • Other institutions would have to generate from $95 million to $118 million to replace the services and programs that Kent County congregations provide annually in their community-serving ministries.

Gatherings of Hope is being distributed today to over 200 religious and community leaders at the Kent County Religious Leaders Symposium, held at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville.

Posted by Neil Carlson on Monday, November 10, 2008 at 03:39 PM
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