What is a ‘faith community’?

Dinham, Adam. 2011. What is a ‘faith community’? Community Development Journal, 46(4), pp. 526-541. [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article asks ‘what is a faith community?’ This is important because of a re-emergence of faith and the ‘faith community’ as a public category in many Western countries. This is reflected in the United Kingdom in a public policy interest in faiths as repositories of resources for ‘strengthened community’. Thus faiths are understood as ‘containers’ of staff, buildings, volunteers, networks, values and skills which can be ‘harnessed’ in key community domains, especially the provision of welfare and social services, extended forms of participative neighbourhood governance, and initiatives for community cohesion. Resources in each of these areas are understood to reside in ‘faith communities’ and faiths are frequently seen as ‘good at community’ in these terms. But do we know what a ‘faith community’ is? Using communitarian ideas of community, this article explores the notion of the faith community and the implications of policies about them for faith-based practices in community settings. It argues for the application of community development values to understanding ‘faith communities’.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)


October 2011Published

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Date Deposited:

14 Oct 2010 12:27

Last Modified:

09 Jul 2020 15:03

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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