Poverty, Wealth and Social Change

“…America might consider more effective ways to engage in social welfare reform to address current issues such as poverty, health care, and immigration. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Esther Chung-Kim Claremont McKenna College Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

In light of current issues on poverty, homelessness, health care, the widening gap between the rich and poor, and the concerns about immigration, this project addresses timely concerns by examining both the immediate results and long-term consequences of poor relief policies. The research in this book has relevance for examining current institutions meant to provide a safety net for the poor and for considering how churches respond to the poor within their community, as well as strangers, foreigners and displaced people groups. By examining the historical roots of how key Protestant denominations, including branches of Lutheran, Reformed, Presbyterian, and Mennonite churches addressed poor relief, this project demonstrates that religious reformers during the Reformation contributed not only to new ethical ideals, but also advocated for varying levels of social change around poor relief. Despite the secularization of many poor relief programs, church leaders continued to shape the development of poor relief, through their support of poor houses, orphanages, hospitals, schools, the sustainable funding of relief funds, and refugee care. Upholding the primacy of Scripture, these reformers believed that the Scriptures were meant to be relevant for each generation, so they saw their job as applying and interpreting the Scriptures for their congregations and communities to make a difference in their world around them.