Community Capacity Building in African American Churches
Chapter 6. Community Capacity Building Toward Nurturing Sanctuary
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Faith is a house with many rooms. There’s plenty of room for doubt on every floor…. Doubt is useful. It keeps faith a living thing.
Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it in relative opacity… [including] a certain communion of the faithful with Sacred things.
Much of the existing research on African American religious involvement tends to focus on religious affiliation being one or more of the following: (a) a valued set of practices and interactions of institutional engagement; (b) a buffer or mediator between personal, familial, environmental, or other pathology; (c) a Pan-African process of return to faith roots of cultural legacy and reclamation; and/or (d) a vital political institution of collective uplift, within and across many historical moments and into today.3 To contribute to the first two of these research strands through a unique “three-legged stool” of collaboration, Nurturing Sanctuary analyzed the contributions of a group of churches that worked with health department staff and university researchers ← 155 | 156 → to improve the means through which the churches enrich their faith-health, capacity-building missions. Capacity building is “maximizing local area assets of individuals, families, organizations, and others, [so they] can be brought together to collectively nurture an improved quality of life.”4 Community capacity building is the “nurturing” of nurturing sanctuary. Sanctuary is a specific room in a place of faith. It is movement to a place of refuge from the tensions of nation-state...
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