Worth Repeating

So why do churches still matter? For one thing, a church, or any religious community, is a sort of first responder to social problems. Churches have stepped in where housing policy has failed, providing badly needed beds for homeless people in the Chicago suburbs. Church professionals are front-line mental health care providers, usually intervening in family crises more quickly (and cheaply) than a therapist can. Churches are the major cultural institution for a lot of Americans, the only place we sing or play instruments or absorb something like a public lecture. They provide space for all kinds of hermit-crab community groups, from Alcoholics Anonymous to after-school tutoring. And they offer access to social capital to people whose schools and extended families aren’t as helpful as they could be. Churches are, for many people, the only place where they mingle on equal terms with those of different generations, economic classes or political ideologies (though we don’t mingle too much across racial lines, unfortunately).

Benjamin J. Dueholm, Local churches are still a vital – and vastly underappreciated part of society, The Daily, (http://learn.thedaily.com) April 29, 2012

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