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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Few congregations seek government money

Money"Charitable choice” made headlines a few years ago. A provision of the welfare reform law, it increased government funds for faith-based social services. But only 7 percent of congregations—Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish or other faiths—have applied for grants during the last four years, according to a study by John C. Green, political scientist at the University of Akron (Ohio).

“Government grant activity is not tremendously important for congregations ... even though they’re engaged in social services in a wide variety of areas,” Green said.

His study of 1,692 survey responses grouped ELCA congregations with mainline Protestants, of which only 5.3 percent sought grants. Black Protestant congregations led the groups seeking government funds, at 23.9 percent, with Roman Catholics next at 8.2 percent.

Most common social services offered through congregations include: marriage counseling, 68.5 percent; food pantries, 63.5 percent; family counseling, 58.8 percent; and senior citizen services, 58.3 percent.


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