Doctoral research: Urban churches and poverty

May 2nd, 2014

Andrew Tripp is a Ph.D. candidate in Practical Theology with a concentration in Church and Society.  He currently serves as a hospital chaplain while in the writing phase for his dissertation.  His doctoral research is focused on urban churches and poverty.  Andrew has sought out to identify churches that are being the church through their embodiment of scripture, especially surrounding economic ethics and social action.  Lived religion is essential for Andrew and exactly what he seeks to find within his research related to urban churches and poverty.  Through participant observations and interviews, Andrew conducted his research with three Protestant congregations located in the Boston and Cambridge areas here in Massachusetts.  He specifically chose the three churches because they each have robust ministries for the poor, consist of an affluent population, and their ministry was established within the surrounding community.  The visibility of the poor, in which Andrew defines by homelessness for the purpose of isolating these three congregations, was evident in that walking to and from the T stop one could not ignore poverty and the deprivation of material needs.  Engaging in good news to the poor for these three communities meant acknowledging and providing for the material needs of the homeless population; although all that are reached through these ministries are not homeless.  One of the three congregations offers a fully functional homeless shelter to include food that is oversaw by laity.  The other two congregations provide food as their main source for meeting the needs within their surrounding communities and are also oversaw by laity.  Although the immediate need is material, the three congregations also offer space to meet spiritual needs, as well as offering space for artistic expression.

When asked, what do you want our community to know about your research?  Andrew stated that “the ministry done by the laity needs far more respect than it gets”.   Through this research, Andrew recognized that pastors are in need of resources for ministries of care that include robust resources for the laity.