Transforming Churches and Communities: Cooperative Developments in a World of Growing Inequality

“Connecting churches and cooperative businesses can provide new interfaces between personal and systemic solutions to rising inequality as well as new encounters of church and community, revitalizing both. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Joerg Rieger Vanderbilt University Contact Me
Rosemarie Henkel-Rieger Southeast Center for Cooperative Development Contact Me
Marcus David Trammell Vanderbilt University Divinity School Contact Me
Francisco J Garcia, Jr. Vanderbilt University Contact Me
Vonda McDaniel Central Labor Council of Nashville/Middle TN AFL-CIO Contact Me
Stephen Emanuel Handy McKendree United Methodist Church Contact Me
Robert Overton Southeast Center for Cooperative Development Contact Me
Mark DeVries Justice Industries Contact Me
Juan Marcial Floyd-Thomas Vanderbilt Divinity School Contact Me

About this collaborative inquiry team

Our project will explore the links between churches and cooperative businesses (co-ops) through review of the work done historically and presently and by studying the connection between churches and several co-ops that have sprung up in recent years. Co-ops are efforts of the community to create work that is fulfilling and rewarding. By sharing decision-making, responsibility, and profits, co-ops are tapping into our common humanity. The co-op model provides a framework for churches to help foster economic activity that provides not only financial resources but also meaningful work, starting with the most exploited. Charitable efforts that seek to support communities can now be combined with constructive efforts that promote meaningful work, enriching communities in need, churches, and individuals. This project allows us to explore both personal and systemic challenges of our time and link them to the faith and work of the church. How might co-ops provide opportunities for churches to employ their assets and their social capital in the community more constructively, and how might churches benefit from opportunities to deepen their faith, grow spiritually, and become more vibrant in this context?