The Religious Sector's Presence in Local Community Development
AbstractThis article identifies the extent, service offerings, and location similarities or differences among secular community-based organizations, religious congregations, and faith-based organizations that engage in service delivery in low-income urban communities. The literature shows that religious organizations provide significant social services to communities, but little is known about how they compare to their secular counterparts within the same geographic context. Employing qualitative and quantitative approaches together with GIS applications for spatial analysis to survey data from religious and secular organizations in North Philadelphia, this article measures the influence of the religious sector in local community development. The article concludes that religious institutions, specifically congregations and faith-based organizations, have a significant community presence in their offerings, presence, and location and provide a substantial level of service to individuals in that they operate as “silent partners” within communities, providing important—although often unseen “institutional capital” to local development in urban America.