The Churches' War on Poverty [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Lyle E. Schaller
eBook Category: Spiritual/Religion
eBook Description: When Congress approved the Economic Opportunity Act a new war on poverty was fully launched by the government. This book deals with the churches' involvement in that war. The church has always been concerned about the poor. But the focus here is on new efforts in this new war on poverty resulting from a new mobilization of religious and secular resources.
eBook Publisher: United Methodist Publishing House/Abingdon Press, Published: 2002
Fictionwise Release Date: January 2004
During the first fifteen years following the end of World War II the primary focus of the main-line Protestant churches in America was on the suburban middle-class family. This was reflected in the emphasis on new church development by denominational home mission boards. It was reflected in the migration of hundreds of central city churches to the suburbs as the members of the congregation first moved their own places of residence and later voted to take their churches with them to the security of suburbia. It was reflected in the criticisms of Gibson Winter and others who described the "suburban captivity of the churches."
At the same time that the major efforts of American Protestantism were being directed toward the people in suburbia, hundreds of other churches and church-sponsored agencies were continuing the centuries-old Christian ministry to the poor, the deprived, the dispossessed, and the destitute. This ministry was being conducted in an almost total absence of publicity and frequently with limited funds, but usually with unlimited dedication. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this work during those years when three fourths of the American people were living in prosperity and poverty was a forgotten issue. These efforts by the churches against poverty and on behalf of the poor must not be forgotten, but that is not the subject of this book.
In 1962 the nation rediscovered poverty; in 1963 a new wave of concern about the poor began to sweep across the nation; and in 1964 President Johnson declared unconditional war on this newly rediscovered enemy. In 1964 Congress approved the legislation known as the "Economic Opportunity Act," and the new war on poverty was launched.
This book is about the churches' involvement in that new war. It is written on the assumption that churchmen will be better equipped to respond to the call to enlist in that war if they are informed about the nature of the churches' early participation and the questions that are being raised by that involvement.
Therefore this book has a twofold purpose. The first purpose is to briefly and quickly survey the nature and variety of the churches' participation in this war on an old enemy. The second purpose is to raise up and examine some of the questions, issues, and problems that have emerged from these experiences. It is too early to evaluate the content of the churches' contribution, and therefore very little space is devoted to that question.
The outline of the book reflects these two purposes. The first two chapters describe some of the ways the churches have responded to the call and the way the mobilization has proceeded. Hopefully this will be of interest to churchmen who are now only considering enlisting in the war and to those who seek a progress report on the early months of the war. Experienced veterans may want to skip past these first two chapters.
Chapter 3 presents a description and interpretation of the churches' efforts on the housing front. This appears to be the area in which the interest of the churches is growing most rapidly, and it may attract a larger share of the financial and institutional resources of the denominations than any other front in the war. Various other areas of activity by the churches are reviewed in Chapter 4.
In the next three chapters several of the major questions and issues confronting the churches are examined. Some of these have grown out of the alliances which the churches have entered into, many have emerged from the desire for the "maximum feasible participation" of the poor, and a few have been produced by the lack of clearly defined goals within the churches.
A five-point framework for structuring the response of the churches is suggested in the final brief chapter. This section is based on the assumption that the churches' response should be determined, not by the nature of the immediate problem or by the plea of the government, but rather by the nature of the church and the call of the Lord.
Like all books, this one is the product of many people. It is impossible to list here the names of all the individuals who have contributed to the writing and publication of this volume, but their help is gratefully acknowledged. Several persons, however, were especially helpful in offering advice, information, insights, and ideas or in criticizing a preliminary draft of the manuscript. This list includes Hyman Bookbinder, Milan Brenkus, Richard O. Comfort, John F. Duffy, Jr., Shirley E. Greene, Charles L. Herron, Dean M. Kelley, Donald H. Larsen, Charles Rawlings, Jon M. Templin, A. J. White III, Samuel S. Wiley, Robert L. Wilson, and Paul and Betty Younger.
The reader should not misinterpret this statement and conclude that all these people endorse every statement in this book. Several of them disagree with some of the interpretations and value judgments offered here. These differences of opinion did not inhibit their cooperation, and for this I am grateful. Obviously errors of fact and interpretation are the responsibility of the author and not of generous and helpful friends and fellow churchmen.
This volume is dedicated to the three pastors who helped me find my way into the Christian ministry and to whom I owe a greater debt of gratitude than they realize.
Lyle E. Schaller
May 30, 1966
Copyright © 1967 by Abingdon Press