Whilst much research has established that religious congregations have a long history of initiating social services that address many and varied community welfare and health issues, little attention has been paid to the process involved in this congregationally-based response as well as little paid to the unique issues that arise such as the role of clergy in their development and operation. Some research has however identified examples of congregationally-initiated programs evolving to the point where their link to their initiating congregation becomes effectively severed. The research reported in this article is drawn from a larger research project that identified a framework for understanding the complex processes by which congregations initiate, operate, and modify their social services. However, it focuses in particular on the resources such congregations can bring to a wider community and the need for intentional strategies to address the risk that such resources may be lost if the link to the congregation is allowed to atrophy. Whilst the more comprehensive framework focuses on an integrated understanding, this article gives specific attention to those issues and strategies relevant to maintaining the link where that is the implicit expectation of the congregation rather than taking it for granted and being surprised when it is found to have gone.
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