Newsletters

Resources Roundup  vol. 5, no. 6   (3/2001)

The final issue of Clergy Notes presents a selection of resources on the Internet that clergy have found helpful—information about congregations, ministry, and research in the field of religion, as well as demographics, government, social services, and other information. This issue includes an interview with John Wimmer, director of the Indianapolis Center for Congregations.

When Rendering Unto God  vol. 5, no. 5   (2/2001)

Money is an awkward topic for most clergy. They hesitate to ask the congregation for contributions, in part because their own salary is involved. Possible alternatives include placing the responsibility for fund raising efforts in the hands of lay people. Clergy appeals for funds seem to work best when placed in a theological context of stewardship. This issue includes an interview with Carol Johnston, assistant professor of theology and culture at Christian Theological Seminary; and resources.

Religious Organizations and Political Activism  vol. 5, no. 4   (1/2001)

Americans may be ambivalent about the participation of religious organizations in public life; yet these organizations play an important role in speaking out, organizing, and lobbying on behalf of contentious public issues, from education to abortion. Groups that disagree theologically often find themselves in agreement on specific issues, and can work together toward a common goal. This issue includes an interview with Desmond Ryan, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference; and resources.

Small Group Ministries  vol. 5, no. 3   (12/2000)

Small groups have been a staple of faith communities since long before anyone organized workshops on how to lead an effective small group. Jesus gathered together 12 disciples. Jews have long prayed together in a minyon, a group of 10. Today, small groups often function as entry points for newcomers to the congregation—not just as fellowship groups for existing members.

When Construction Projects Become Destructive  vol. 5, no. 2   (11/2000)

Congregations often run up against strong protests from neighborhood residents when they propose to expand their facilities or move to a new location. The majority of a congregation’s members may live outside the neighborhood where its building is located. Yet, increasingly, congregations have family centers, counseling centers, schools, child-care centers, and gymnasiums-facilities that attract a steady flow of traffic throughout the week, multiplying the potential for conflict with neighbors. Thoughtful planning and communication are key to minimizing disputes and bad feelings. This issue includes an interview with Tammara Tracy, a township administrator for the City of Indianapolis; and resources.

Continuing Education for Clergy  vol. 5, no. 1   (10/2000)

As clergy approach middle age, they often find that they need to recharge their vocational batteries, if they are to avoid burn-out. Continuing education courses for clergy afford them the chance to reconnect with their faith, and with colleagues. Brief, intense periods of study and reflection seem to work best for most. This issue includes an interview with Dan Moseley, director of continuing education and professor of preaching and parish ministry at Christian Theological Seminary; and resources.

Advertising Religion: A Necessary Evil, or Just Necessary vol. 4, no. 12   (9/2000)

Many in the clergy are reluctant to advertise in secular media, though lay people are generally more open to the idea. Culture and even theology will determine whether advertising is appropriate for a particular congregation. For advertising to work, it must be well thought out and given time to show results. This issue includes an interview with George Martin, a former Episcopal priest and director of the Church Ad Project, a leading company in the field of religious advertising; and resources.

Clergy in the Classroom  vol. 4, no. 11   (7/2000)

The principle of church-state separation has banished religion from the schools in its overt forms. Still, religion has played a crucial role in the shaping of culture, and there are opportunities for clergy to share their particular knowledge and insights with students in the classroom. This issue examines the circumstances under which clergy may be invited to speak in the classroom, with suggested topics, and offers guidance as to what is permitted and what is not. The issue includes resources and an interview with Ken Knowles, a teacher of Bible Literature at Carmel High School.

Readings on Religion, Spirituality, and the New Reformation vol. 4, no. 10   (6/2000)

This issue surveys recent books dealing with the changes sweeping American religion. One author examines the rapidly growing

Alternative Services  vol. 4, no. 9   (5/2000)

New congregations are springing up-sometimes as an off-shoot of established congregations-aimed at members of the so-called Generation X. The services feature guitar-driven music and a conversational preaching style. This generation-which presumably has little patience with staid church forms-is said to be

World Religions in Indianapolis  vol. 4, no. 8   (4/2000)

Immigration over the past decade has brought a number of previously underrepresented groups to the city, who have brought with them their religious traditions-some of them unfamiliar to Americans. Indianapolis now has Sikh, Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic congregations, among others. As with previous immigrant groups, their religion sustains their culture as they make the transition to assimilation. The issue includes resources and an interview with K.P. Singh, co-founder of the International Center of Indianapolis.

Lunch and Food for the Spirit  vol. 4, no. 7   (3/2000)

A number of congregations in Indianapolis sponsor weekly or monthly meetings at the lunch hour. Most are located downtown, and they attract workers and business people, the homeless, and others seeking a brief spiritual respite to accompany their lunch. Those who attend often belong to other congregations. The issue includes resources and an interview with Susan Jean, leader of Christ Church Cathedral’s

When Average Doesn’t Mean Typical  vol. 4, no. 6   (1/2000)

Statistics are often misleading. A congregation may be mathematically

Good Information, Sound Decisions  vol. 4, no. 5   (11/1999)

In this issue of Clergy Notes, we introduce you to some of the measurements that local clergy are using to evaluate their neighborhood and community. Some turn to the information eager to attract new members. Others consider the data helpful in planning neighborhood outreach. We all are searching for reliable and accessible information. Today, huge amounts of statistical and other data are available, usually for free, if you know where to look. Making sense of the information, however, can be tricky.

Changing Expectations for Clergy Activists  vol. 4, no. 4   (10/1999)

In this issue, we explore how the public role of clergy has changed over this century. Sometimes that change has been shaped by congregations who expect their clergy to be hands on managers and leaders. Community building often is regarded as an internal, rather than external, activity.

Congregations as Social Providers  vol. 4, no. 3   (9/1999)

In this issue, you’ll read that the average congregation sponsors or houses at least four different community programs. Others argue this

Ministerial Associations in Indianapolis  vol. 4, no. 2   (8/1999)

This issue of Clergy Notes explores the role of ministerial associations in Indianapolis. Some support the emotional and spiritual needs of clergy, while others help religious leaders or congregations come together in a common goal. A few have moved from a

Hispanics and Congregations  vol. 4, no. 1   (7/1999)

In this issue of Clergy Notes, we examine how Hispanics-the fastest growing group of immigrants in America-are shaping the religious culture here in Indianapolis. Today in the city there are Catholic, United Methodist, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Pentecostal, and Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations with largely Hispanic memberships.

Getting and Giving the 4-1-1  vol. 3, no. 4   (4/1999)

Whether beginning a daycare or creating a sense of partnership within a neighborhood, we clergy often lament the lack of money, volunteers, or technical assistance necessary to carry out community ministries. Recent studies by The Polis Center indicate that most congregations and clergy fail to leverage one critical commodity that is accessible and inexpensive – information.

What – Me a Racist?  vol. 3, no. 3   (3/1999)

While there are hopeful examples of congregations trying to address systemic racial injustices, the reality remains that racist attitudes exist even in those organizations which historically have advanced the cause of racial integration. Most Indianapolis congregations are overwhelmingly composed of one race – in itself an obstacle to interracial dialogue and acceptance.

Congregations and Computers  vol. 3, no. 2   (1/1999)

While many congregations own computers, few benefit fully from their capabilities. How important are these

Call It Declension…Or Staying Power  vol. 3, no. 1   (2/1999)

Scholars use the term declension to describe the deterioration or declining influence of an organization or institution. The theme of declension…encourages the tendency to pay more attention to what religion is not doing and what it used to do rather than to what it is doing and continues to do.

Cities on a Journey  vol. 2, no. 7   (12/1998)

As a child, I was brought up with Bible maps that plotted in huge squiggles Abraham’s wanderings through the ancient Near East. The community which Abraham and Sarah drew around them seems a model for our contemporary experience of rootlessness, and aspiration for community: for a place where blessings are shared, strangers welcomed, faith is passed on, hope takes root, and relationships are tested.

What Do You Know?  vol. 2, no. 6   (11/1998)

What Do You Know? Suppose this question were posed to you: What do you know about your congregation’s neighborhood? What do you know about the city of Indianapolis, and how can you learn more? A goal of the Project on Religion and Urban Culture has been to better understand where clergy get their information, and what they do with it. What do we know?

What’s Your Place in the City?  vol. 2, no. 5   (10/1998)

Do religion and religious communities really contribute to the civic life of a neighborhood? Do congregations provide valuable services, and if so, what kind? Are houses of worship gathering places not only for members, but for neighbors? If so, what goes on at these gatherings?

Meeting at the Crossroads: Religion and Urban Life  vol. 2, no. 4   (9/1998)

The better I get to know the faithful people of the congregation I serve, the more I’m convinced they have deep yearnings and aspirations to make a contribution to the common good. They wonder what knowledge and energy they have to offer the people around them, and seek wisdom and spiritual grounding to help them enrich the lives of their families and communities.

Summer Reading: Additions to Your List  vol. 2, no. 3   (7/1998)

There’s a myth that the long hot days of summer are a time for easy living and light reading. We have asked some friends about their summer reading, and the titles they recommend sound anything but lightweight:

Connecting the Congregation and the Academy  vol. 2, no. 2   (2/1998)

An interview with David Bodenhamer, Director of The Polis Center. The conversation centered on research being conducted by the Center for its Project on Religion and Urban Culture.

Knowing Our Place  vol. 2, no. 1   (1/1998)

For many congregations, the boundaries that traditionally kept them apart – or aloof – from the wider community have been crumbling. Enclaves once defined by denomination, neighborhood, ethnicity, or class may find that the definitions have changed, or become irrelevant. Without the old verities of turf and tribe to sustain them, these congregations may wonder where they fit into a shifting landscape.

Welfare Reform Poses New Challenges for Congregations vol. 1, no. 10   (11/1997)

On Oct. 21, a diverse group of clergy, lay people, and non-profit leaders gathered at North United Methodist Church to discuss the impact of welfare reform on religious outreach programs. The daylong conference,

You Carry   vol. 1, no. 9   (10/1997)

There is nothing settled in the life of a religious community. Many a congregation started its life in the center of town, moved to a residential neighborhood as its members become more prosperous, pulled up stakes again, and now sits in the middle of a parking lot in the suburbs. In spite of this movement, the fact that

Learning from Students  vol. 1, no. 8   (8/1997)

What influences the relation between congregations and their neighborhoods? You’ll find you end up with a handful of questions. But good questions are more interesting than pat answers.

The Other Side of Prosperity  vol. 1, no. 7   (7/1997)

All the economic signs say the country is prospering. Unemployment is down, profits are up, and governments are getting more tax dollars than they expected. But there may be another side to this rosy picture. Many churches say they receive more calls for food, clothing, and cash than they did a year ago

Coming Down from the Volunteer Summit  vol. 1, no. 6   (6/1997)

Congregations of all sorts have been in the volunteer business a long time. Polis researchers have found that the volunteers congregations recruit are mainly for the educational, administrative and liturgical programs of the congregation. Community service is important to many congregations, but in most cases it is not the highest priority.

Urban-Suburban Partnerships are Growing  vol. 1, no. 5   (5/1997)

Around the Indianapollis metropolitan region, inter-church partnerships are being created and considered. Researchers from The Polis Center are observing several urban-suburban partnerships.

Taking Care of Business  vol. 1, no. 4   (4/1997)

How do congregations react when the neighborhood changes? Most congregations don’t do anything, according to Hartford Seminary sociologist Nancy Ammerman and her colleagues.

Two Maps of the Same Neighborhood  vol. 1, no. 3   (3/1997)

A map doesn’t tell the whole story about the territory. When you talk with residents about their neighborhoods, you are soon struck by the different ways citizens describe their environment.

Banking on Community  vol. 1, no. 2   (2/1997)

Some sociologists believe a neighborhood has capital just like a bank.

Community Lost?  vol. 1, no. 1   (11/1996)

Are we becoming a nation of loners? Yes, claims sociologist Robert Putnam in his essay