Our Hidden Safety Net: Social & Community Work by Urban American Religious Congregations

From colonial times, religious congregations and religious organizations in the United States have been providing not only for the spiritual needs of their congregants and communities, but for their social welfare as well. Indeed, until the close of the 19th century, religious groups were virtually the nation’s sole provider of social services. Social work, the profession now dedicated to caring for the human and social needs of society’s most disadvantaged members, is rooted in religious theology and practice but is now distanced from faith-based social services.