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Faith in Communities

Introduction

Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam reports that faith is the #1 predictor of giving and serving in America.  Led by senior fellow Amy Sherman, Sagamore has a long history of research, capacity building services and policy work to bolster the “faith factor” in addressing society’s most challenging problems.

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amy sherman

Dr. Amy Sherman

Dr. Amy Sherman is the founding director of the Center on Faith in Communities.  She is the author of numerous books and hundreds of publications aimed at understanding the church’s role in society and strengthening faith-based compassion programs.

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Byron R. Johnson, Ph.D. - Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences - Director, Institute for Studies of Religion - Director, Program on Prosocial Behavior - Baylor University - Global Flourishing Study (GFS) Ð 09/30/2021

Dr. Byron Johnson

Byron Johnson, Ph.D. is Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University. He is the founding director of the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR) as well as director of the Program on Prosocial Behavior.

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Sagamore senior fellow Chip Weiant began working on iterations of The Ohio Good Community Project more than 30 years ago. The Buckeye project is based on the foundational work of Sagamore CEO Jay Hein and senior fellow Amy Sherman in demystifying the role of "the faith-driven intermediary."

The Ohio Good Community Project

Faith-driven intermediaries, unlike secular ones, uniquely serve individuals and communities by emphasizing inward spiritual transformation as a necessary component of whole life flourishing. Personal transformation by faith is a defining part of humanity that sustains pro-social and ethical impact and becomes a force multiplier for thriving communities generation after generation. In recent years, this work has been accelerated by large, multi-year grants from the Fetzer Institute and Lilly Endowment.

Origins

The implementation of this community-flourishing-acceleration project is ongoing but has been significantly accelerated in 2022 by a generous multi-year grant from the Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

“The Fetzer Institute is helping build the spiritual foundation for a loving world. They work with thought leaders to develop programs, research projects, convenings, and funding collaborations in the sectors of faith, spirituality, democracy, education, and organizational culture.”

Fetzer leadership has just completed a strategic master plan that is devoted to motivating the work of long-term, result-gaining applied theory in community flourishing like,Weiant’s GOOD Community model. 

Identifying and building the capacity of existing city and county community catalysts (essentially leaders who organize local intermediary networks) is a key part of Weiant’s labors. He and others are tasked with connecting and equipping Ohio’s Christian Leaders and their communities through qualified catalysts. To do so, he has created essential resources that offer aid and a shared bridge to practitioning and emerging GEN Y & Z catalysts.

Resources

The Good Citizen guide includes over 50 essential Bible references relating to the role of good government and the relevance of defined good character virtues to effective personal and organizational self-governance. The guide provocatively demystifies the thesis of true “dual-citizenship” and provides strong logical arguments and tools for Christians (particularly GEN Y & Z rising leaders) to better reconcile and integrate their national citizenship and their Kingdom-citizenship convictions.  

The tools outlined in Good Citizens allow users space for mentored self-assessment and reflection. Specifically, one tool, Uncommensense, is a framework of 20 robustly defined character ethics. The assessment asks for user honesty and (eventually trusted peer review) with the hope of observing ethics displayed positively in one’s life as well as identifying self-deceived areas to focus improvement efforts over time.

 

Good Citizens serves as a perfect Christian prequal to the project’s follow-on series also authored by Weiant called The Civil Society Tutorial. The Tutorial includes three sequential study guides written in the language of conscience that appeals to faithful, secular and NONE groups. These guides are entitled:

These field guides are brief and illuminate the sole pathway for renewing civil society culture in a pluralistic American culture that serves all our neighbors. Living the virtues of Scripture authentically and consistently is the “secret sauce” of trust-sustaining relationship, so essential to community-building over time.

Progress

In the first six months of the Fetzer Institute supported initiative, The Ohio Good Community project re-edited, branded and published it’s essential resource series, earned the partnership of the Ohio Governor’s Office of Faith-Based & Community Initiatives as a key statewide advocacy partner, organized and began systematic exchanges among a cohort of 10 practitioning Ohio city and county representative community catalysts, located a GEN Y project leadership successor team, and hosted 100 community catalysts at the Ohio Statehouse allies Match 17, 2022 to a day-forum for best-practice exchanges (see images.)

Outcomes of the first annual forum included the 20th anniversary celebration of the Ohio Faith-Based Office and Governor Mike DeWine’s robust commitment to support faith-based intermediaries, the roll out of a statewide faith-friendly flourishing community shared index or “dashboard metrics” trail project.

Meet the Team

Chip Weiant earned his B.A. in Public Policy Analysis at Miami University and did graduate work in public policy at the University of Rhode Island focusing on the moral implications of public policy on free enterprise, individual liberty and human flourishing. Mr. Weiant also leads the National Better Business Bureau’s Center’s for Character Ethics Project and is addressing both passive and absentee-fathering challenges in the Heartland through his DADLAB Father-Focused, Parent Strengthening Project.

Weiant strives to renew cultures of trust by leveraging leadership character and organizational ethics assessment, training and best practice advocacy within existing networks of American institutions. Chip’s portfolio of work includes the publishing and dissemination of UncommonSense, the EthicalEnterprising Framework and The Civil Society Tutorial series which earned the Sir John Templeton Freedom Award in Ethics in 2008.

Caleb Ingram is the Executive Director of Declare Dayton, which serves as the convening body for congregations and ministries engaged with the Ohio Good Community Project. Caleb is passionate about seeing lives changed and cities and communities revived with hope through Jesus Christ. After working in local church ministry for a number of years, he has now been serving full-time with Declare since 2016 to unite the body of Christ to worship and serve together. 

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The Quiet Revolution: This is Our City

American citizens have always been the backbone of ambitious solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. The twenty-first century has seen an unprecedented rise in generosity and a steep decline in global poverty. In The Quiet Revolution, readers are invited inside the White House to see how presidents have aided in this success by rallying Americans to serve their nation by volunteering in their local communities and around the world.

President George W. Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative was a catalyst for many of these dramatic social improvements. Yet, the big story is not what happened in Washington, D.C., but rather what takes place in countless communities across the nation. There is not a social problem in America that is not being addressed by a faith-based or community group every day.

The Quiet Revolution is about championing the unsung work of ordinary volunteers spurred by faith and simple goodwill to roll up their sleeves in order to care for their neighbors in need.

Click the image to buy a hard copy of The Quiet Revolution, or download the kindle or Audiobook version.

In his 2014 book The Quiet Revolution, Sagamore Institute’s Jay Hein highlights the work of George W. Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative  to work towards solving the world’s most pressing problems.  Alongside this story is an even bigger story: the tale of how American citizens–not just American Presidents–have continued to be the backbone of change. As Jay writes, Americans have always possessed an “extravangant generosity, both in manpower and in money” towards making the world a better place. Jay seeks to empower readers that citizen action remains the most important vehicle for this type of impact. As the lines between business and social enterprise become blurred, Carl Schramm’s point proves true that “all entrepreneurship is social.”

This is Our City

 The Quiet Revolution‘s last chapter “This is Our City” underscores key ways in which this citizen-led revolution is taking place:

  • Giving: The nonprofit sector is the fastest growing segment of the American economy. Private giving is roughly about $300 billion annually, proving that “charity is big business across the states.”
  • The vast majority of giving (73%) comes from individuals’ annual gifts and bequests (8%). Foundations and corporations combine for only 19%.
  • Service: Skills-based volunteering is a key way for corporations to give back through donating pro bono services or volunteer time.
  • Urban Entrepreneurs: Innovative nonprofits are popping up, led by bright leaders such as Kirbyjon Caldwell of the Windsor Village United Methodist Congregation in Houston. Windsor’s 1st project in the 5th Ward was a 104,000-square foot Power Center that houses 10,000 low-income families along with a Chase bank, a hospital clinic, business suites, a school, the business technology center of the Houston Community College, and a banquet facility.
  • Social Investment: An emerging field of social enterprise is venture philanthropy in which big investments are made to organizations that show promise for big returns on investments, much like how investments are made to for-profit businesses.

Compassion in Action

The Compassion Agenda

In January 2007, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI), headed by Jay Hein, launched a series of monthly Compassion in Action Roundtable meetings to highlight organizations, programs, and policies addressing critical social needs. The roundtables convened and facilitated discussion between policymakers, government officials, philanthropists, and faith-based and community service providers around targeted issues. 

The events revealed President Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative as a broad-based, community-centered reform agenda, showcased innovative projects and promising practices, and drew attention to government efforts to expand and support the work of faith-based and community organizations actively engaged in serving their neighbors and communities. The initiative enabled some of America’s most effective social service providers to compete fairly for Federal funding, in order to make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.

Compassion in Action Roundtables

16 January 2007

Combating Youth Violence

This inaugural Compassion in Action Roundtable convened government, philanthropic and nonprofit leaders, including representatives from the Department of Justice, to discuss grassroots solutions for reducing youth violence and to showcase the accomplishments of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. 

22 March 2007

Improving Prisoner Reentry Services

This roundtable, titled Faith and Community-Based Partnerships to Improve Prisoner Reentry Services, assembled leaders from various sectors working to reduce criminal recidivism and its impact on local communities. The event also featured final results from the Ready4Work program.

16 April 2007

Promoting Service and Civic Engagement

This roundtable examines volunteerism and the contributions of the nonprofit sector in America. It further stresses the importance of civic leaders gaining a clearer understanding of the non-profit sector’s strength and potential, and the faith community’s role in leveraging volunteerism as it works to strengthen communities.

19 July 2007

Faith-Based Partnerships to End Homelessness

This roundtable discusses why faith-based and other community nonprofits are often best equipped to provide the compassionate touch and the personal accountability homeless persons need to transition successfully from the streets to stability. 

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