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The Urban Church Leadership Center (UCLC) was created from in-depth research and analysis of community needs. Today, the value for research continues as the UCLC staff and local church leaders work together to consider the changing reality of the urban church.

Greater Grand Rapids Study of Congregations: Congregational Life and Leadership in our Urban Area

The latest report from a 2017 study of congregations was conducted under a partnership between the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation and the Calvin College Center for Social Research. The report focused exclusively on the greater Grand Rapids geographic area—Grand Rapids, Kentwood, and Wyoming. This urban area defines the boundaries of the Gatherings of Hope Initiative, whose mission of serving urban pastors and churches provided the main impetus for the present study. The process of crafting the survey questionnaire that forms the backbone of this report was guided mainly by the issues and concerns that define the day-to-day work of the various programs that formed part of the Gatherings of Hope initiative, particularly the Urban Church Leadership Center. The survey findings, in turn, have shaped the leadership training opportunities that the UCLC provides to urban church leaders and their congregations. In addition to the survey, this report incorporates the findings of an extensive census of congregations in the study area.

Gatherings of Hope: How Religious Congregations Contribute to the Quality of Life in Kent County

The 2007 study of Kent County congregations was also conducted by Foundation and Calvin College Center for Social Research staff. The findings of that study, which were published under the title of Gatherings of Hope: How Religious Congregations Contribute to the Quality of Life in Kent County, documented the many contributions congregations make to the lives of the residents of Kent County. That study informed the launch of a major new line of work at the Foundation that took its name from the title of the report.